A gem of Hoysala Hindu temple architecture. This temple is widely acknowledged as one of the best specimen for the Hindu temple architecture in India.
The temple is a fusion of two shrines, both dedicated to Lord Shiva. The first one is known as Holysaleswara (named after King Vishnuvardhan Holysala, who built this temple) and the other is known as Santaleswara (after Queen Santala Devi, wife of Vishnuvardhan). Besides, there is a note worthy Shrine to the Sun god too.
Both shrines face east and are connected by a spacious hall in front of the shrines to make it feel like a single structure.
The striking feature of the temple is its lavish sculptural works and also the intricate wall panels; typical to the Hoysala Hindu temple architecture. Both depict all most all objects that a men can perceive at the time it is built; from flowers to elephants and from Ramayana to Mahabharata.
It is believed, the temple is built at the initiative of Sri. Ketamalla, a minister to the Holysala King, as a challenge to the famous Chenna Kesava temple at Belur. In the 14th century, the fanatic Muslim invader Malik Kafur vandalized the temple, making it neglected for many years.
The Garuda pillar in this temple is noteworthy. The pillar reminds us the martyrdom of Garudas- the suicide body guards of the Hoysala Kings. Their only mission is to protect the King and Queen from any attacks. They behead themselves after the death of their masters!
Presently, the temple is under the control of Archeological Survey of India.
Halebid is about 27 kilometers from Hassan and 213 kilometers from Bangalore.