Hassan District - A Tourists' Paradise


This article is on places to visit in Hassan district, a paradise for the tourists who want to enjoy the natures' beauty and the grand intricate architecture filigree works in granite stone a marvel to behold. Hassan district is also a place of historical importance with all major kingdoms had some association with the District.

Places to visit in Hassan District

Hassanamba temple


Hassan used to be known as the poor man's Ooty. But now it is quite warm. Hassan has all the facilities of a modern town which will be quite useful to the tourists and they will get all facilities here. The tourists can camp here and from here go to the places around. It is a beautiful town in the heart of Malanad. It is said that the name Hassan came from the original name of Simhasanapura. We are experts in shortening the long names like K R Puram K G Nagar etc. There is a Devi temple in the heart of Hassan town by the name Hasanamba and the temple is open only once during October for about 12 to 15 days during the year for public. Hassan is in the South Center portion of Karnataka State. The known history of Hassan date back to the 300 BCE (before Christian era). That is about 23 centuries history. The earliest reference is that It was a part of the North Indian Mauryan empire. Around 300 BCE the Jain sage Bhadrabahu was supposed to have come accompanied by several ascetics (people who follow strict denials – spiritual minded). This is the start of the Jainism in Karnataka. This shows that there might have been local population even before this time. According to some historians the famous Chandragupta Maurya (grand father of Emperor Asoka) was a disciple of Bhadrabahu and he had also come with Bhadrabahu. They came to Shravanabelegola and settled there. Some other historians dispute this and say that Chandragupta Maurya was the grandson of Emperor Asoka and he came much after Bhadrabahu. There is a basadi (a monument) in the name of Chandragupta basadi even now exists Shravanabelegola. Anyway it established the fact that Shravanabelegola was a Jain worship place from around BCE300 (for about 2300 years). Later during the period of A D 350 to 999 the Ganga dynasty of Talakkad was ruling the present Hassan district as part of their kingdom. Later from AD 1000 to 1334 it was under the Hoysala Empire with their head quarters first at Hale Beedu and later shifted to the nearby Belur. During the Vijayanagar Empire between 15th and 16th centuries the Kings of that empire used to patronise the Channakesava deity of Belur as their family deity. For after another 200 years the area was under dispute between the Shimoga rulers Keladi Nayakas and Mysore Vodeyars. Finally it merged with the Mysore kingdom. In between the Ganaga rule and the Hoysalas this place was under the Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas. Many Jain monuments including the Gomateswara Statue of 50 feet were commissioned by the Ganaga Dynasty General Chamundaraya. In and around Shravanabelagola there are several inscriptions in Kannada, Sanskrit, Tamil, Marathi, Mahajani and Marwari languages covering the period of 600 to 1830 AD covering various dynasties and is an archaeological centre apart from being a tourist centre and Jain worship centre. Shravana is the name of a Jain ascetic and biliya (white) kola (pond) and from this the name Shravanabelegola derived to the place. Under the Hoysala rule a clan by name Angadi built up a powerful empire comprising of the entire Malanad region and they were responsible for the construction of more than 50 Hoysala temples in the region. The ISRO Satellite centre is located in Hassan.
Hassan city is easily accessible from Bengaluru, Mysuru and from any town of Karnataka by road. From Bengaluru train facility is also available.


Places Worth seeing Around Hassan


Shravanabelegola

Gomateswara


As explained earlier, the name came from the ascetic Shravana and biliya Kola (white pond). The biliya kola (white pond) tank is in the middle of the town 'Belagola'. The Main attraction is the monolithic nude statue of Gomateswara of about 58 feet high and the whole structure of the idol is well proportioned and a beauty to behold even if one is not religiously inclined. It is between 2 rocky hills. The statue of Lord Gomateswara a Jain saint is an idol of worship for centuries on a hill called Vindyagiri. It is supposed to be the tallest monolithic statues of the world. This is supposed to have been created by the Chamundaraya, the General cum Minister of the Ganga Dynasty king Rachamatta around 983 AD. Every 12th year a Mahamasthakabhisheka is performed to this statue which will be attended by lakhs of Jain devotees from all over the world. The next one is due in 2017. Since the statue is 50 feet high the abhisheka cannot be done without an elaborate and strong platform to stand and pour the abhisheka items over the crown of head of the statue of Lord Gomateswara. The steps to climb on to the platform above the head will obviously at the back of the statue so that the vision is not obstructed. The priests climb on to the platform and pour tender coconut water, turmeric and kumkum (vermillion) powders mixed with water in a thick consistency, and water etc over the head of the statue. Opposite to this is the Chandragiri where the tomb of Chandragupta Maurya and a few Jain temples are situated. Chandragupta Maurya was the founder of the Maurya Dynasty and founded the 1stt known Empire of India after 13 years of the leaving Alexander from India. The great Emperor Asoka is said to be the grandson of this Maurya founder. In his later years he embraced Jainism and abdicated the throne and followed the Jain guru Bhadrabahu Swami to Shravanabelegola in Karnataka in the 3rd century BC. He died in 298 BC at Shravanabelegola. From the above it is seen that the town is in between t hills of Indragiri and Chandragiri. This place is under the municipality since over 70 years. The place is having a Sanskrit patasala (school) to learn Sanskrit and Sastras. The Jain gurus Mutt is situate here and the priests stay in the mutt. As was mentioned in the details for Hassan, this was the first place where the Jains came in Karnataka from the Maurya kingdom and settled down. This place has historical references. There are several monuments in and around Shravanabelegola. There is beautiful pond called as 'kalyani' in the heart of the town.


Shravanabelegola is well connected with Channarayapatna (13 kms), Hassan (52 kms), Mysore (80 kms) and Bengaluru (149 kms).

Belur

Belur temple


This was the capital of the Hoysala empire in their later years when they shifted from Hale Beedu. The main attraction here is the Channa Kesava Temple (temple of the beautiful Kesava – a phase of lord Vishnu). This temple was built during the period of king Vishnuvardhana the most famous king of Hoysala Empire to commemorate his conversion from Jainism to Vaishnavism (a sect of Hindus). It is built around 1117 AD. The temple is built on a raised platform and is in star shape with black granites of which will look like metal made. There is a Garuda standing facing the lord. Garuda is the carrier (vehicle) of Lord Vishnu. On the walls outside the temple there are 650 elephants in charging pose carved out of the black granites. No two of them are alike. There are figures of beautiful ladies carved from black granite stones made as bracket figures on the walls. The temple is an architectural marvel. Those interested in architecture art can spend hours and hours here. Inside the temple one can see the smooth shining granite pillars. Even in the darkness these can be seen. Each of the pillars are unique in their own individual glory. In front of the shrine on a circular smooth platform the statue of the Shanthala Devi, the consort of the king Vishnuvardhana. The bracket female figures were made on the from the inspiration the beauty of Queen Shanthala Devi. Each of the bracket figures are in different poses. There is one bracket figure as if wringing water from the long hair. The details are so minute one can see the water drops at the end of the hair. These are incredible delicacy in granite art. All the 4 figures are similarly exotic in finish and details. Belur is known as the Dakshina Kasi (Southern Varanasi – Banaras)
Belur is 39 kms from Hassan, 149 kms from Mysore and 222 kms from Bangalore.


Halebid

Halebid temple


Hale (old) Beedu (house – place) which later became Halebeedu or Halebid was the original capital of the Hoysala kings. Later they shifted the capital to Belur. Halebid is 15 kms farther from Belur. This was the first capital of Hoysalas and it was known as Dwara Samudra. This place has several Hoysala style temples and Jain Basadis. The Hoysaleswara temple on a platform is marvel of architecture. It is to be seen to be believed. The stones are having detailed scroll work of stone art. Outside the shrine facing the Shiva there is his mount (carrier) Nandi (bull) facing his lord made in granite. One can see a hillock near the temple on which was the palace of the empire. The palace on the hillock was connected with the temple by a passage. Inside the temple in a niche has the form the Shanthala Devi. This temple is the model for the Belur Channa Kesava Temple. But the figures on the walls of this temple are larger and more beautiful than that of Belur, though Belur temple is built later than that of Hale Beedu. Here also the temple walls are built from black granite stones and have the shining finish. The walls are having the beautifully chiseled forms of gods, goddesses, dancing girls, animals and birds. The dancing figures on the outside walls are like dancing poses and each pose is different from other indicating the various steps, movements and expression of the dance. Another wonder is that one can put a coconut palm leaf rib through the ears of the figures and the end will come out through the other ear or nose or mouth of the figures. Of course we are not allowed to touch these figures to prevent damages. There are guides who may demonstrate the same to us. It is said that the queen, wife of Vishnuvardhana was not only epitome of beauty but also of the dance art. The dancing figures on the walls are modelled on the dancing poses of Shanthala Devi according to some people. However, one can note that the pose of each is different, the dress and hair style of each is different and no two figure has similar dress, hair style or pose. This is also a marvel in stone art like the Belur temple. The temples and Basadis gives an indication that Vishnuvardhana was a follower of Siva in the beginning and converted to Jainism and later again converted to Vaishnavism.


Near the temple there is a museum with sculptures and gold coins of the time. There is another temple dedicated to Kedareswara. The finishing of the sculptures here is said to be so intricate that they haven beaten the goldsmiths in their art. It is like poetry in stone a marvel which surpasses that of the Belur and Hale Beedu temples. One k m from Hale Beedu is the Jain Bastis known as the Basti hills. Basti must be basathi meaning dwellings.


Koramangala Temple

Koramangala temple


From Hassan about 10 k m there is a village earlier known as Koravamangala and now called as Koramangala. This place is having 3 Shiva temples in the Hoysala style. One of them the Bucheswara temple is intact and the other two temples are in dilapidated condition. The temple is artistically finished and worth watching. This village can be called as the museum of Hoysala architecture.


Mosale


Mosale is on the Hassan Mysore route and is about 12 km from Hassan where the temple for Lord Nageswara and Channakesava is worth visiting.

Gorur


Gorur is on the way to Arkalgud at about 20 km from Hassan. There is a dam constructed across the Hemavathy River and is a picnic spot. Apart from the dam there are temples of Hoysala style dedicated to Yoga Narasimhaswamy, Trikuteswara, Vasudeva and Kailaseswara.

Manzarabad Fort


There is a fort built by the Tipu Sultan in Manzarabad which is about 7 km from Sakaleshpur. The fort is at the height of 3240 feet above sea level. It was built in A D 1792.

Bisle Ghat


It is a beautiful place with natural sceneries and is a ideal place for trekkers. This is about 65 k m from Sakaleshpur towards Subramanya.


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