Karnataka: Sharvanbelgaon circuit

December 2005
Karnataka circuit- 14 Days, 2250 Kms by car

Places covered
Hampi Circuit
Sharvanbelgaon circuit

Karnataka Jain Circuit
Costal Karnataka

December 7, 2005, Wednesday: Hospet-Chitadurga-Sharvanbelgaon.(400 Kms)We proceeded to our next destination -Shravanbelgaon. This was the longest journey of around 400 Kms. Hospet to Chitragdurga was 150 Kms via Kudligi.  After a hearty lunch we proceeded without entering the city. We had to leave highways and again take a internal road. I guess proceeded via Hiryur. The road had scenic beauty with teak/supari/coconut plantations, almost a jungle, but indeed a bad road with huge potholes. Was driving at 50/60kms per hour when I missed one such pothole and the oil tank was hit with oil leaking heavily. Luckily we realized it on a highway near a road cross. We had to wait for 2.5 hours while the mechanic repaired the oil tank. We reached Shravanbelagaon late at night. We stayed at Dharmashala.

December 8, 2005, Thursday: Sharvanbelgaon.
Early morning we climbed the steep hill with 650 steps. This is one of the most popular Jain pilgrimage center in South India, and is known for its 1000 years old gigantic (57 feet) colossal monolithic statue of Gomateswara, on top of a hill.

The word "Sravanbelagola" means the Monk of the White Pond (Sravana means Monk and belagola means a White Pond). The statue of Gomateshwara was erected during the reign of the Ganga King, Rachamalla, under the patronage of his minister Chamundrayar and by sculptor Aristenemi (981 AD). The Mahamastakabhishek is held once in 12 years, when the Gomateswara is bathed in milk, curds, ghee, saffron, gold coins and hundreds of flowers. The next Mahamastakabhishek would be 2018.

In the evening, we climbed another small hill probably Chandragiri (or was it vindhyagiri?), where there more of 10th century temples.

December 9, 2005, Friday: Sharvanbelgaon-Hassan-Halebidu-Dharmsthal (200 Kms)Next day,we proceeded for Halebid-Bellur. On the way we had a hearty breakfast in Hassan at relatives place.

Halebid is 40 kms from Hassan and around 100 kms from Shravanbelgaon. Halebid and Belur are known for the Hoysala temples, which are world famous for their sculptures and architecture. It is said that they were being built for 150yrs and 3 generations were working on it. These temples are cut from soft stone allowing for very intricate carvings on the walls. Halebid (Hale’beedu) literally means ‘the ruined city’. During the 12th and 13th centuries AD, it flourished as the capital of the Hoysala Dynasty for about 150 years. It was also then known as Dwarasamudra (gateway to the seas). However, invaders who robbed it of its treasures, leaving behind the ruins of the once-magnificent Shiva temple, twice attacked it. The Hoysalas then shifted their capital to Belur, leaving behind Halebid, a city once grand and since reduced to poverty and ruins.

The astounding 12th century twin Shiva temple in hallebid, Hoysaleshwara, is unique for its two shrines in the Linga form and gigantic figures of Nandi (sacred bull). It is actually two temples attached along the north-south axis by pillared walls. This temple is twice the size of Belur's Chennakeshava Temple and the figures are larger as well. Infront of the Hoysaleshwara is the Nandimantapa and behind that is a shrine of Surya with a two-metre-tall image. Outer walls have various sculptures depicting Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagvadgeeta. The guide showed how tiny carvings were, where even a needle can be inserted in the carvings.

Bellur is 20/30 kms away. The intricate workmanship leaves you speechless in Channakeshava temple which is the only temple still in use for people to offer prayers. It is the most marvelous specimen of Hoysala architecture - the angled bracket figures depicting celestial nymphs are found here.

In order to commemorate his victory over the Cholas in the battle of Talkad, King Vishnuvardhana  built Belur Temple in 1117 A.D. It took 103 years to complete. When you complete the tour of endless carvings on outside from elephants to epics to sensuous dancers the inner part with hand-lathe huge pillars still surprise you. This Forty-six pillars support the extensive hall, each of a different design. The Narasimha pillar could be rotated at will!
Well whatever you write, words can pen down the beauty of these fantabulous pieces of art. One must see to believe this craftsmanship.

Later we proceeded to Dharmsthal. There was huge ghat of around 40-50 kms with lots of risky U-turns. But it offered a great panoramas view of mountains. Reached Dharmasthal late at night.