Where stones tell stories - Young World Club

Where stones tell stories

  • POSTED ON: 21 Nov, 2023
  • TOTAL VIEWS: 152 Views
  • POSTED BY: R. Krithika | Text by Rohini Ramakrishnan
  • ARTICLE POINTS: 150 Points

Built in the 12th century, the Channakeshava temple in Belur (Hassan district), the Hoysaleswara temple in Halebidu (Hassan district), and the Keshava temple in Somanathapura (Mysuru district) are distinct examples of Hoysala architecture, which blends the Dravidian style with the Bhumija style of central India and the Nagara style of north and western India. Read on to know more about these temples and solve the shuffle puzzle to see what artisans of yore were capable of.


The Channakeshava temple in Belur — dedicated to Lord Vishnu — is shaped like a star and was commissioned by Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana.

Completed in 1117 CE, this is the main structure in a complex that contains many other temples and smaller shrines. This is the oldest of the three temples and the carvings on the pillars are said to have inspired temple jewellery in South India.


The Hoysaleswara temple in Halebidu is dedicated to Lord Shiva but contains images from the Vaishnava and Jain traditions. The temple is actually a twin structure that contains two lingas representing the masculine and feminine aspects of the God.

The temple is known for its intricate sculptures, reliefs and friezes. The complex also contains Jain temples and a step well.


The temple at Somanathapura, also known as Channakesava, is said to be an example of the climax of Hoysala architecture. Dedicated to Lord Krishna, this temple featured three forms of the god as Keshava, Janardhana and Venugopala.

While the first idol is missing, the other two are damaged. The walls, pillars and ceiling are covered with intricate carvings and friezes depicting stories from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Bhagavata Purana.

In the 14th century, the Hoysala kingdom was invaded repeatedly by the armies of Alauddin Khilji and Muhammad bin Tughlaq. Belur, Halebidu and Somanathapura were plundered and destroyed. This led to the temples being damaged and falling into ruins.


The origin of the word “Hoysala’ is derived from folklore. A young man Sala is said to have saved his guru by killing a lion (or a tiger, according to one version) in a forest. The word ‘strike’ in Kannada is ‘hoy’ and hence Sala became Hoysala. The emblem of the dynasty also shows Sala fighting a tiger.

The basic material of the temples and sculptures was soapstone, which is a soft stone.

Interestingly, the artisans and craftsmen who built the Hoysala temples are not anonymous. They signed their work and so historians have been able to trace not just architects and sculptors but also goldsmiths, silversmiths, ivory workers, carpenters and others who worked on these monumental structures.