SET AMID a lush agricultural landscape ringed by distant hills, this isolated site was the I l oysala capital in the 12th and 13th centuries. While the palace has yet to be excavated, the stone ramparts that once surrounded the city can still be seen. Outside the ramparts, to the east, is the vast tank known as Dorasamudra , which was also the city’s original name.
Today, the g principal attraction of Halebid Is the Hoysaleshvara Temple, begun in 1121 by _ kings Vishnuvardhana, but never finished. This structure comprises a pair of identical pies, each with its own t-facing linga sanctuary opening on to a hall and a reened porch. Each temple also preceded by a pavilion with a huge statue of Nandi, them hull-vehicle of Shiva. As the two halls are joined togethBr to create a spacious columned interior, the temples ‘unction as a single monument, The outer walls are elevated on friezes of naturalisticand fanciful animals, Interspersed with animated carvings of scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata . Among the ‘meet wall panels here are chose of Shiva dancing on the outstretched skin of the elephant demon he had slain, Krishna playing the flute and Krishna holding up Mount Govardhan, on the south face of the southern sanctuary.
On the north face of the northern sanctuary is a a splendid Nataraja (Shiva as the Lord of Dance) and a panel depicting a crouching multi-armed and – headed Ravana creeping up on Shiva and Parvati seated on Mount Kailasa. Set on the plinth on which the temple is raised is a threedimensional composition of a warrior plunging his sword into a leonine beast with a ferocious head, interpreted as the dynastic symbol of the martial Hoysala oilers. The landscaped garden in front of the Hoysaleshvara Temple serves as an Archaeological Museum. Among the panels exhibited here is one showing a majestic seated Ganesha. A short distance south of the complex is a group of 12thcentury Bain bastis.