Middle Kingdoms of India, Part 85


Sri Krsna Lifting Govardhana
Chennakesava Temple, Belur

Sep 13, 2015 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation of India's great history, religious movements and temple architecture.

The Hoysalas

Today we begin the next to last of our Middle Kingdom dynasties in the series. Devotional images created by the Hoysalas are perhaps among the most recognized by Vaisnava devotees, because of the great number of exceptional temple carvings they constructed in glorification of Sri Krsna and His incarnations and associates.

'The Hoysalas had become a powerful force even during their rule from Belur in the 11th Century, when they served as a feudatory of the Chalukyas in south Karnataka. [113] In the early 12th Century they successfully fought the Cholas in the south, convincingly defeating them in the battle of Talakad, after which they moved their capital to nearby Halebidu.[ 114-15]

Historians refer to the founders of the dynasty as natives of Malnad Karnataka, based on the numerous inscriptions referring to them as Maleparolganda, or "Lord of the Male (hills) Chiefs" (Malepas).[116-20] With the waning of the Western Chalukya power, the Hoysalas declared their independence in the late 12th Century.

During this period of Hoysala control, distinctive Kannada literary metres such as Ragale (blank verse), Sangatya (meant to be sung to the accompaniment of a musical instrument), Shatpadi (seven line) etc. became widely accepted.

The Hoysala's Chennakesava Temple - Belur, Karnataka
Photo courtesy R. Ashok@Flikr

The Hoysalas expanded the Vesara architecture stemming from the Chalukyas, [121] culminating in the Hoysala architectural articulation and style as exemplified in the construction of the Chennakesava Temple at Belur and the Hoysaleswara temple at Halebidu. Both these temples were built in commemoration of the victories of the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana against the Cholas in 1116 A.D.

Veera Ballala II, one of the greatest Hoysala rulers, defeated the aggressive Pandya when they invaded the Chola kingdom and assumed the titles "Establisher of the Chola Kingdom" (Cholarajyapratishtacharya), "Emperor of the south" (Dakshina Chakravarthi) and "Hoysala emperor" (Hoysala Chakravarthi).[122]

The Hoysalas extended their foothold in the region of modern Tamil Nadu around 1225 A.D., making the city of Kannanur Kuppam near Srirangam their provincial capital. From this center of power they leveraged control over South Indian politics, and this marked the beginning of a period of Hoysala hegemony in the southern Deccan.

Hoysaleswara temple at Halebidu

In the early 13th Century, with the Hoysala's power remaining unchallenged, the first of the Muslim incursions pushed into South India. After more than two decades of waging war against a foreign power, the Hoysala ruler at the time, Veera Ballala III, died in the battle of Madurai in 1343 A.D. This resulted in a merger of the sovereign territories of the Hoysala empire with the areas administered by Harihara I, founder of the Vijayanagara Empire, located in the Tungabhadra region in present day Karnataka. The new kingdom thrived for another two centuries, with Vijayanagara as its capital.'


[113] Sen (1999), p498
[114] Sen (1999), p499
[115] B.S.K. Iyengar in Kamath (2001), p.124–126
[116] B.L. Rice in Kamath (2001), p.123
[117] Keay (2000), p. 251
[118] Thapar (2003), p. 367
[119] Kamath (2001), p. 123
[120] Natives of South Karnataka (Chopra, 2003, p.150 Part1)
[121] Sastri (1955), p427
[122] Barrett and William Coelho in Kamath (2001), p.126


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