Holxo Tours in Hassan
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Located in the south-western part of Karnataka, the district of Hassan has abundant natural beauty and is rich with history. Hassan reached the zenith of its glory during the reign of the mighty Hoysala Empire who made it the seat of their rule. Hassan is a veritable treasure trove of the unique Hoysala architectural tradition (vesara) and sculpture, the best specimens of which are at Belur and Halebidu.
Sravanabelagola, studded with Jain monuments, is a renowned Jain pilgrimage site.
The twin-like cities of Belur-Halebidu are separated by a short drive. Both were home to the Hoysala dynasty for three centuries (mid-11th – mid 14th centuries). The Belur-Halebidu temples are defined by intricately carved walls and sculptures in ivory and sandalwood. Standing on a star-shaped platform – the hallmark of the Hoysala architectural style – Belur’s Chenna Kesava Temple is a 14th century edifice that shows off fine stone filigree work. The Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu was built in 1152. Uniquely, it has two shrines on the same platform (also star-shaped), both dedicated to Shiva. The Shantaleswara Temple, the second temple here sits on a star-shaped platform with exquisite sculptures. Just as in Belur, many sculptures here are three-dimensional, with the back of the figures carved as intricately as the front.
Sravanabelagola has been a centre of Jain religion, art, and architecture for over 2000 years. Vindhyagiri and Chandragiri are the two famous hills here.
Standing atop the Vindhyagiri Hill is the awe-inspiring monolithic statue of Gommateswara, dedicated to the greatly revered Jain monk-saint Bahubali. Carved from a single block of granite, the exquisitely proportioned 57-foot high monolith was commissioned by the Ganga dynasty around 983 CE and is one of the largest free-standing statues in the world. Gommateswara is sculpted with all themahapurusha lakshana (signs of a great man) such as long earlobes, broad shoulders, and strong arms. The expression of absolute serenity on his face represents total renunciation and harmony. The Mahamastakabhisheka festival, held once in 12 years (next in February 2018), is a spectacular ceremony in which the statue is anointed with water, turmeric, rice flour, sugarcane juice, sandalwood paste, saffron, and gold and silver flowers.
The Chandragiri Hill has older and richer monuments that date back to the 8th and 6th centuries CE.