Hoysala Temples architecture is the building style in Hindu temple architecture developed under the rule of the Hoysala Empire between the 11th and 14th centuries, in the region known today as Karnataka, a state of India.
Hoysala influence was at its peak in the 13th century, when it dominated the Southern Deccan Plateau region.
Large and small temples built during this era remain as examples of the Hoysala architectural style, including the Chennakesava Temple at Belur, the Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu, and the Kesava Temple at Somanathapura.
Other examples of Hoysala craftsmanship are the temples at Belavadi, Amruthapura, Hosaholalu, Mosale, Arasikere, Basaralu, Kikkeri and Nuggehalli.
Hoysala temples are sometimes called hybrid or vesara as their unique style seems neither completely Dravida nor Nagara, but somewhere in between.
The Hoysala temples contain multiple shrines grouped around a central pillared hall and laid out in the shape of an intricately-designed star.
The most characteristic feature of these temples is that they grow extremely complex with so many projecting angles emerging from the previously straightforward square temple, that the plan of these temples starts looking like a star, and is thus known as a stellate-plan.
They are made out of soapstone which is a relatively soft stone. Since they are made out of soapstone which is a relatively soft stone, the artists were able to carve their sculptures intricately. This can be seen particularly in the jewellery of the gods that adorn their temple walls.
They are easily distinguishable from other medieval temples by their highly original star-like ground-plans and a profusion of decorative carvings.
Chennakeshava Temple Complex, Belur
The Chennakeshava temple complex was at the center of the old walled town located on the banks of the Yagachi River.
The complex itself was walled in a rectangular campus with four rectilinear streets around it for ritual circumambulation of the deity.
Construction of the temple commenced in 1117 AD and took a 103 years to complete.
The temple was devoted to Vishnu.
The richly sculptured exterior of the temple narrate scenes from the life of Vishnu and his reincarnations and the epics, Ramayana, and Mahabharata.
However, some of the representations of Shiva are also included.
Consecrated on a sacred site, the temple has remained continuously worshipped since its establishment and remains until today as a site of pilgrimage for Vaishnavites.
Hoysaleshwara Temple, Halebid
At the zenith of the Hoysala empire, the capital was shifted from Belur to Halebid that was then known as Dorasamudhra.
The Hoysaleshwara temple at Halebidu is the most exemplary architectural ensemble of the Hoysalas extant today.
Built in 1121CE during the reign of the Hoysala King, Vishnuvardhana Hoysaleshwara.
The temple, dedicated to Shiva, was sponsored and built by wealthy citizens and merchants of Dorasamudra.
The temple is most well-known for the more than 240 wall sculptures that run all along the outer wall.
Halebid has a walled complex containing of three Jaina basadi (temples) of the Hoysala period as well as a stepped well.
Kesava Temple, Somnathpur
The Keshava temple at Somanathapura is another magnificent Hoysala monument, perhaps the last.
This is a breathtakingly beautiful Trikuta Temple dedicated to Lord Krishna in three forms – Janardhana, Keshava and Venugopala.
Unfortunately, the main Keshava idol is missing, and the Janardhana and Venugopala idols are damaged.
Still this temple is worth a visit just to soak in the artistry and sheer talent of the sculptors who created this magnificent monument to the Divine.
Lakshmi Narsimha Temple
The Lakshmi Narasimha temple was built in 1246 CE by Bommanna Dandanayaka, a commander in the Hoysala Empire during the rule of King Vira Someshwara.
Located a short distance away in Nuggehalli (in Hassan district of Karnataka), and built around the same time is the Sadashiva temple.
It is built in ‘Trikuta’ style, that is, having three shrines- dedicated to Lakshmi Narasimha, Venugopalaswamy and Purushothama.
The outer walls of the temple bear great detailed carvings in Hoysala style.
The concrete flooring on the platform, also called jagati, is used by devotees as pradakshina path (ambulatory passageway for circumambulation).