Doorways, lintels, and subshrines

The temple’s construction started around 1121 CE and was completed in 1160 CE. It was principally constructed under the patronage of wealthy local Shaiva merchants and aristocrats. The breathtaking architectural style and grandeur of the temple add to its mystique and classifies it as one of the most unique stone-carved monuments in the world.

Southern entrance doorway - 5

The intricate lintels of the entrance gates feature the most beautiful carved frescoes of the temple. The carved lintels and the two doorkeepers placed on either side of the door are common to most Hoysala temples.

Ornate lintel at the north-eastern entrance - 9

The delicate artistry of the two life-sized dwarapalas (doorkeepers) placed at the southeastern entrance has incredible detailing. They are sculpted to stand in the tribhanga (a classical dance pose where the body bends in places – knees, hips, and neck) pose. The dwarapalas exhibit features that are associated with God Shiva such as a jatamakuta (crown formed by matted hair), the third eye, and they are shown holding a damaru (a small drum) and a trishula (trident). The jatamukutas are so remarkable that a straw inserted in any of the numerous perforations comes out from the adjacent one. The sculptures have been defaced with two hands broken, but the faces and bodies are well preserved. Two attendants accompany each doorkeeper.

The temple has an extensive iconographic representation of episodes from the epics. These sculptures do not merely serve a decorative purpose but are essential to the integrity and composition of the structure. The Halebeedu temple has twin sanctums and enshrines two lingas (a short column-like structure that is the universal representation of Shiva) called Hoysaleswara and Santaleswara. It is said that Hoysaleshwara (the king of the Hoysalas) is dedicated to King Vishnuvardhana and Shantaleshwara to his wife, Queen Shantaladevi.

Note: The word Ishwara translates to 'Lord of' and is a title dedicated to Shiva. Temples dedicated to Shiva often end with the word Ishwara. Example - Mahakaleshwara, Omkareshwar, Trimbakeshwar, etc.

Nandi, the bull, is a great devotee of Shiva and his mount. A temple dedicated to Shiva will always have a statue of Nandi facing the deity. The Halebeedu temple has two shrines for Nandi on the outside, where each seated Nandi faces the respective Shiva linga inside. A 7-foot tall statue of the Surya is also housed inside the temple.