For eight centuries now this lovingly created masterpiece has stood here on the edge of a water body.Rulers have come and gone and everything around the temple has changed but it stands still in a quiet serenity.It would be cliched but entirely true to say that it has been a silent witness to the human drama going on around it for centuries.

Generations have stood in and around it now and looked up in awe and admiration (except the vandals I chronicled in my earlier post).Every little bit of the temple is encrusted with exquiste sculptures. I am making an effort to bring some of the best to all of you in this post.I do not know the stories behind some of these and am hoping all of you will chip in with the details and then I can add them on to the post(with credit given to source).

1) A dynamic relief carving of Siva’s jubilant dance of triumph after killing the elephant demon Gajasura. Having flayed the elephant, Shiva held its skin in his outstretched hands and danced a tempestuous dance. The exaggerated twist of his body dramatically conveys his frenzied movement.

(Source: C.Sri Vidya Rajgopalan’s explanation . From the internet)

There a quite a few sculptures of this ‘roop'( Gajasamhara) of Lord Shiva but this particular one is the least damaged,If you look at the top right side of the sculpture you can notice the astonishingly delicate detail in the way the thumbnail of Shiva is shown protruding through the elephant’s skin.!! Absolutely unbeliveble that this small artistic detail has come down to us from 800+ years. Wonder what the artist was thinking when he was executing this….did he ever imagine it would be so admired and commented upon centuries later?


This next sculpture sculpture depicts Vishnu in his incarnation as the Vamana the dwarf, also known as Trivikrama. Bali, the king of the demons, promised Vamana all the land that Vamana could cover in three strides. Vamana or Vishnu Trivikrama’s first step covered the entire earth.

The Halebid sculpture shows Vishnu Trivikrama taking his second step, which covered the entire heavens. Bali squats at the left lower corner of the sculpture. Trivikrama’s third step came down on top of Bali’s head. Vishnu Trivikrama then rewarded Bali by giving him the celestial kingdom of Sutala.(Courtesy: Gregory Fegel)

3) Ravan tries to shake out  Mount Kailasa to dislodge Shiva-Parvati from their abode. Another story goes that he ws trying to move the entire mountain as it stood in the way of his ‘aircraft’ (remember, the one in which he whisked away Sita after kidnapping her from her forest dwelling?) .Please feel fre to add on these explanations.

4) The ‘naked’ roop of Shiva ( Lord  Bhairav).This exquisite work stands in one of the niches.It is very graceful,almost feminie in the fluidity of its curves.

5) This scene from the outer walls of the Hoysaleswara temple never fail to evoke a chuckle from the visitors,thanks to the explanation given by the ASI trained tourist guides.He calls those arrows the Patriot missiles of yore!!