Belur Halebidu- Karnataka temple towns

Belur Halebidu is a weekend bag-packing trip where we covered Shravanbelagola, Belur, Halebidu and Chikmangalur . Its one of the first trips made when I started living in Bangalore. This trip was made in February, on the onset of spring, when the kannada country side was blooming with its sap green vegetation all around. And I was so engrossed in observing the landscape around that I almost forgot that I should click pictures. Nostalgia of landscape clutched me hard, and as far as I can recall I whenever I recovered from it, I chose to sketch, draw, scribble or paint.

A lot of the photographs (actually most of them) are done by Anubhav, this was our first trip together. And here is the link to his travelogue on his blog.

We started from Bangalore in the wee hours of the morning. On the way to Shravanbelagola, we could see the country side transform itself from pallid amorphous shadows to lustrous farming fields brimming with sunshine. Shravanbelagola is a Jain pilgrimage town. The town’s landmark is a Mahaveer statue at the top of the hillock. Its rendered with a small temple around. The top of the hillock can be reached by climbing 150 steps that are carved out of the boulders and hills itself. The structure is fairly archaic and simple, lacks complex embellishments or ornate detailing. However the spirit of the place lies in the glimpse from the top of hillock, of the landscape around.

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By afternoon, we started for Belur. Belur is yet another temple town in North western part of Karnataka. It has one big temple situated in the city’s market square. What has been fascinating about Belur temple is its spatial simplicity tied up with ornate and tasteful soapstone carving. What becomes rhetoric of Indian temple architecture is to overwhelm onlookers with too much of visual stimuli. However, special about Belur temple is that it chooses its protagonist wisely.

Next destination was Halebidu. It was yet another Hoysala temple. What made it special was its a twin mandapa temple, joined by an interior circumambulatory. The soapstone carvings and well articulated panels and embellishment work extremely well with evening sun. When we visited the temple, preservation work was in progress. The articulate star- shaped plan (which is very typical to Hoysala style) adds a sense of sophistication to the spatial experience and fills every turns with a surprise.

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Further we headed out to Amruthpura temple in Halebidu district. Its surrounded by a small village on its periphery. The spatial arrangement is very modest, three cells , one sanctum sanatorium and other two dedicated to secondary deities all connected by long corridors, embellished by sturdy , polished granite columns. The experience of being in this temple with the evening setting sun and aroma of incense being offered to the deity was a memorable experience. Even today, when I am wording this experience, it just fills me with a sense of unequalled joy, reverence and life.

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This was all that we covered during the first day, we reached Chikmanglaur in the evening, spent the night in a lodge and headed out in the morning to see the nature around. We drove to the hills, saw the morning sun from the hills, enjoyed the aromas of the coffee plantation and soaked our lungs in some fresh hill air. Towards the afternoon, we saw some waterfalls and kept our memories soaking with the landscape around and headed back to our city life in Bangalore.

To sum it up, all I can say is – the Karnataka on my palette was a refreshing delight.

 

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