Belur Temple - Halebid
Hassan - Karnataka's Open Secret
Hassan is the 4th largest city in Karnataka and situated in the southern part of the state. Located around 194 Km from the capital city of Bangalore, the city is the district headquarters of Hassan District. The name Hassan comes from the name of the presiding deity Goddess Haasanamba. Founded back in 11th century by Channa Krishnappa Naik, Hassan has a very bleak history. It was under the rule of Hoysala dynasty from 11th century till 13th century. It was during this period that the splendid temples of Halebid and Belur were built. Hassan turns out to be a great spot from where to start for places like Shravanabelagola, Belur and Halebid. You will notice a strong influence of Jainism in the city, which is because many of its early rulers were of Jain faith. Shravanabelagola is the most prominent Jain centers of all. Hassan is an important city also because it serves as a home to the main control facility of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization).
Hassan not only is rich in architectural marvels, but also is naturally picturesque. The climate here is very much similar to the climate found in Bangalore and is very pleasant throughout the year. Not much shopping scope is there in Hassan but you can shop for small stone carved mementos.
Attractions - Tribute To Karnataka's Past
All the major attractions in Hassan are situated few kilometers away from the main town. And most of them are religious in nature. Halebid, Belur and Shravanabelagola are the most important ones. The temples have some magical work of carvings that make them nothing less than a marvel.
Shravanabelagola is one of the most important pilgrim sites for Jains in India. Shravanabelagola is at a distance of around 50 Km from Hassan. The name 'Shravanabelagola' means 'the land of pond'. The town has a pond and is situated between two lofty hills called Chandragiri and Indragiri. Shravanabelagola is famous for the gigantic statue of Lord Bahubali, which is the tallest monolithic statue in the world. The height of the statue is around 17 m. The image was installed by Chavundaraya in 988 AD, who was the minister of Ganga King Rachamalla Sathyavakya. It is almost impossible to find a structure so grand and imposing anywhere in the world. The statue is located on the top of Indragiri hill. There are many more temples in the town that are considered sacred by Jains.
Throughout the year, inflow of pilgrims to Shravanabelagola is good. However, during the 'Mahamastakabhisheka', the number of pilgrims rises immensely. Mahamastakabhisheka is a Jain festival that is held every 12 years. The festival was recently concluded in the year 2006 and is scheduled next in 2018. During the event, the huge statue of Lord Bahubali is bathed in milk, sugarcane juice and saffron paste. Flower petals, sandalwood powder and turmeric powder is offered by devotees. The most awaited part of the festival comes at the end when the statue is showered with flowers from a helicopter.
Situated at a distance of 38 Km from Hassan, Belur is famous for some magnificent 12th century temples built during Hoysala reign. There are three main temples in the region, but the most important is Chennakeshava Temple, which is the only Hoysala Temple still in use. The temple was built to celebrate the triumph of Hoysalas over Cholas. Started in year 1116, it took more than 100 years to complete this temple. Each and every section of the temple is heavily carved with intricate forms. You will find scenes from epics, sculptures of elephants and dancers carved on the walls of the temple. It is also believed that the images of all the Hindu deities are shown in the temple. Such mesmerizing work of art can also be seen in Veeranarayana Temple, Kappe Chennigaraya, temples dedicated to Soumyanaki and Andal.
Halebid is another place where you will get to see temples splendidly carved out of rock. Halebid was once the capital of Hoysalas which was then called Dwarasamudram. The most prominent of all is the Hoysaleswara Temple. The temple dating back to 12th century was under construction for around 90 years, but still was not completed. But during those 90 years, came up the most magnificent creation by Hoysalas. The temple is built on a star shaped platform, a huge statue of Nandi Bull is among the major attractions of the temple along with exquisite carvings on the wall of the temple. There are images of many gods and goddesses, animals, and dancers carved on the walls of the temple. The temple is surrounded by gardens from all sides and has a museum close by. Slightly smaller temples in the town are Kedareshwara temple and three Jain Temples. Halebid is at a distance of around 33 Km from Hassan. Halebid is well connected to Hassan by regular bus service.
Accommodation in Hassan
Hassan is a perfect place from where you can visit the famous nearby areas like Shravanabelagola and Belur. So many tourists choose Hassan for a stay. To accommodate them, there are good number of hotels inside the city. Many of them are star category hotels. Best of all in Hassan are Hotel Hassan Ashoke, Hotel Suvarna Regency, Hoysala Village resort, and Hotel Southern Star.
Nearest airport is in Bangalore which is at a distance of 187 Km from Hassan. Bangalore being one of the metro cities in India, it recieves flights from all corners of India and of all major operators. It takes around 5 hrs to cover the distance by road. You can either take the sevice of KSRTC buses that are regular between Bangalore and Hassan or you have the option of hiring a taxi.
Hassan has its own railhead which is around 2 km from the city center. Connection with Mangalore, Mysore and Bangalore is good with regular trains. There are express trains like Mangalore-Bangalore express which has a stop at Hassan.
Hassan is connected with good network of roads to nearby areas like Belur, Halebid, Shravanabelagola and to all other major cities of Karnataka. Hassan is an important tourist destinations so KSRTC runs regular buses between Bangalore (222 Km) and Mangalore (194 Km).
Easiest way of traveling inside the city is by hiring a taxi. Auto rickshaws are also available in good numbers. Buses are regular inside the city but are crowded.