A drive towards Hassan (Karnataka State, India), always promises some interesting places to visit. If Belur and Halebeedu pop up in one’s mind whenever Hassan is mentioned, a quick visit to Shravana Belagola en route is the typical itinerary.
But for a soul that takes off the regular path in search of other interesting places not previously visited, Dodda Gaddavalli Lakshmidevi temple, Belavadi temple offers a pleasant drive opportunity. Search further on the map and the Hoysala period temples much less on the touristy radar, can be identified. Call it madness or sheer passion to visit as many architectural marvels dotted across not just Hassan district, but all over Karnataka, led us this time to the Twin temples of Mosale in Hassan district. Temples, I visit – but as I searched for interesting places to visit in Hassan, an attractive image of a Kalyani caught my sight. A stand-alone Kalyani? No temple adjoining? The picture looks pretty, would it still look the same? Well, why not visit and check for myself, the inner voice said. And for those who are still thinking what a Kalyani is, it is the holy water tank or the stepwell, which generally can be found in the temple complex of most of the temples in south India.
An early morning drive from Bangalore in the month of June turned out to be pleasant. Located at around 185 Kms from Bangalore, Mosale is a small village in Hassan district with agriculture being the primary occupation of the villagers. A decent monsoon ensured that we drove in the scenic route and reached in about 3.5 hrs including a short breakfast break. The Google map took us to the rear entrance which doesn’t make much of a difference. The twin temples shone in the sunlight.
Declared as a protected monument and of national importance by the Archeological Society of India (ASI), the temples stand majestically in a neat and clean complex. The two temples here, standing apart a few feet are dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu, a rare combination of deities for a temple complex. Shiva is represented as Nageshwara in the temple located to the south and Vishnu as the Chenna Keshava inside the temple located to the north. Not much known or is written about these two temples which display standard Hoysala architecture, is believed to be from the 12th century and is said to have been constructed under Vira Ballala II.
Majestic towers, elegantly sculpted idols adorning the external walls, the Hoysala emblem lion being slain, the roof carvings, panels of miniature sculptures, detailed yalis on both the temples all make for an attractive sight. A very prominent sight as one takes a walk along the temple walls has to be the systematically defaced features of the sculptures.
Single tower, hall and the sanctum sanctorum are the simple features of these two temples which do not see very many visitors. Surrounded by small residential houses almost on all sides, the temple complex still stands distinctively on a slightly elevated ground. The idols inside the temples are in worship and a local villager, I believe, is the priest.
A good one hour at the temple premises and a few pictures in the camera, it was time to proceed towards the other curious place of interest, the Kalyani in Hulikere. Hulikere, is again a quaint village-like Mosale which is blessed with the remnant of Hoysala architecture. Drive on the muddy path and enter the interiors of the village, a little query here and there as we drive almost 46 kms from Mosale towards Hulikere, we finally stop the vehicle by the field side inside the village. A cordoned complex neatly maintained at the existence of the stepwell can be felt and seen only as we walk and enter the gate. Almost hidden in mother earth’s lap, the stepwell is a beautiful sight. It may be in ruins, but the beauty stands out and attracts one’s sense and sensibilities.
Located close to Halebeedu, this holy water tank at Hulikere is believed to have been the private pond of Shantala Devi, the Hoysala Queen. Walk down the steps into the bare pond today, and watch the small mandapams or the shrines dotting the pathway. Some of these shrines house a few broken idols and others look desolate. An interesting bit of information published in Deccan Herald in 2017 (DH is a popular publication of Karnataka), would give some insight into the details of this pond, hence I quote ‘The elaborate Kalyani has three levels with 30 steps. One can see an amalgamation of astronomy and architecture in this Kalyani. At mid-height, there are 27 ornate miniature shrines or sanctums adorning the steps on all the four sides. These are said to represent stellar constellations. While some of these shrines have superstructures (shikhara), some are devoid of such pinnacles’.
An eerie silence gives us ample time to wonder how royal this pond looked in its heydays when the queen herself walked down the steps and spent time here. Tall coconut tree branches at a distance swaying in the light breeze add beauty to this heritage structure. This 1000-year-old elegant and artistic construction is yet another grand contribution of the Hoysala dynasty to the architectural marvels in the state of Karnataka.
Before noon, we hit the highway once again. As we drove back towards Bangalore, we did feel like driving towards Halebeedu one more time but then we had already filled our heart and cameras with offbeat Hoysala memoirs. We headed straight to home, of course with a lunch break on the highway.
Some things to note:
- Driving in your own vehicle would prove easier to reach the interiors of Mosale or Hulikere villages.
- It would be wise to walk in comfortable sneakers while one explores these places
- Cotton dresses, cap/hat and shades will prove quite useful as the temple and the stepwell are in open place with almost no shade nearby, on a sunny day.
- Bangalore/Hassan Highway drive is scenic and the roads are well maintained.
- Best Breakfast/Lunch options on the Highway – I would recommend Swathi Delicacy and Anagha Grand but a few other restaurants are also considerably good and located before Hassan.