BELUR-HALEBIDDouble takeBy Dhanwanti NayakBelur-Halebid go together like twin cities. Separated only by a short drive, both were home to the Hoysala dynasty for three centuries (mid-11th to mid-14th century). Coming upon one after visiting the other is like recognising a family resemblance. Both look similar being star-shaped. They were founded by a Jain, Nripa Kama, whose kingdom was sandwiched between the Cholas of Thanjavur in the south, and the Chalukyas of Badami in the north. Nripa Kama's son and successor was Vinayaditya. He is remembered by later generations that often, incorrectly, consider him to be the founder of the dynasty. But Halebid and Belur tend to defy history. It is rare to find a place that appears so untouched by time.
The Belur and Halebid temples are cut from the soft stone called chloritic schist. It allowed for very fine detailing, evident in the intricately carved temple walls. The tradition of ivory and sandalwood handwork is reflected in the sculptures of these temples. As representations of South Indian styles they are comparable, perhaps, only to the temples at Khajuraho.
Of special interest are the engineering techniques used in `assembling' the temple, particularly the locking systems that used grid locks, interlocks and the pin and socket system! They were used for attaching separately carved panels onto the walls and ceilings, achieving a continuous and inseparable appearance for what are essentially disparate stone structures.