By Swami Harshananda
Halebidu literally means ‘old town’.
Halebīḍu was a flourishing capital city of the Hoysala dynasty (12th century CE). It was earlier known as Dvārasamudra. After Malik Kafur, the Muslim general of Alla Ud Din, invaded South India, Dvārasamudra was ransacked and it never regained its old glory. Hence it came to be known as ‘Haleya Biḍu’ or ‘Halebidu’ or 'Halebīd'. It is now a deserted village situated at 16 km (10 miles) to the east of the Belur town, in the Hasan district of Karnataka state.
The finest specimens of Hoysala temple architecture are to be found at Belur and Halebīḍu. The most important temple complex is that of Hoysaleśvara. Its construction must have started around CE 1211 but was left incomplete. It is actually a twin temple built in soap-stone of Hoysaleśvara and Sāntaleśvara and the deities (Śivaliṅgas) were named after the king Viṣṇuvardhana and his queen Sāntalā.
The two sanctums, each hexagonal in shape, stand on the same platform side by side. They are connected by a transept. There are separate navaraṅgas (assembly halls). The round walls are covered with hundreds of carved figures depicting the various scenes from the two epics. The pillars are round in shape and highly polished. The Śivaliṅgas are quite big in size.
The other temples in Halebīḍu are:
- The Kedāreśvara temple of three rooms but without any icon
- The Vīrabhadra temple
- The Rañganātha (Viṣṇu) temple
There are three Jain temples also that are dedicated to:
- Viṣṇuvardhana was Hoysaleśvara or the king of the Hoysala dynasty.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore