Hosaholalu’s Lakshmi Narayana Temple: Offbeat Temple Gem near Bangalore - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!
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Saturday, October 19, 2019

Hosaholalu’s Lakshmi Narayana Temple: Offbeat Temple Gem near Bangalore

A monsoon day at Hosaholalu Sri Lakshmi Narayana Swamy Temple

Increasing Bangalore traffic and pollution eggs us to get out of the city, but sometimes, we end up going to the same places and over a period of time, the experience becomes stale. That is why in 2019 I have decided to explore more of the offbeat gems in our own backyard. Hosaholalu’s Sri Lakshmi Narayana Swamy temple, about 170 kms from Bangalore is one such offbeat temple gem. Built in the 13th century by King Someshwara of the Hoysala empire, this temple is as good an example of Hoysala temple architecture as Belur and Halebid, but unlike the popular temples at Belur and Halebid, this one is a bit hidden and therein lies its charm.



Like the Chennakeshava temple at Somnathpur, even the Lakshmi Narayana temple at Hosaholalu is set in a quiet little village and therein begins the rustic temple journey. Even though most of the temple that we see today was built during the reign of the Hoysalas, it is said that the Hoysalas built on an already existing temple that was built by the Gangas and the Cholas. And there are some small elements that were added to this temple during the era of the Vijayanagara kings. But, mostly, a lot of it is Hoysala style and hence for simplicity, we shall refer to it as a Hoysala temple.

Above video: Watch in 4K for best resolution. A walkaround of the exteriors of the Lakshmi Narayana temple at Hosaholalu.

Garuda carrying Mahavishnu and Lakshmi Devi on his back - Hosaholalu temple

When you enter the main temple enclosure after crossing the temple gate, all you see is a simple rectangular structure and a big lawn surrounding it, but as you get closer to it, its beauty dawns on you. I would recommend you to make a pradakshinam (clockwise walk) of the temple before you enter the main temple interiors. As you circumnavigate the temple, you will see an advanced level of Hoysala temple architecture with stories, sculpting and intricacies that is bound to blow you over. The true beauty of its look is visible from the back and you get the true understanding when you climb its first level and try to decipher the sculptures and their stories.

Different avatars of Vishnu and Indra on his Airavat in sculptures at Hosaholalu, Karnataka

Carved out of soapstone, I absolutely loved each and every bit of its carvings. Some of them are weather-beaten, but they still convey the stories that they were meant to tell after close to 800 words. Be it Garuda carrying goddess Lakshmi and Mahavishnu (where Lakshmi sits on Vishnua’s left thigh) on his back, Lord Indra on his Airavat (white elephant), Mohini avatar of Mahavishnu, Mahisasura Mardini (an avatar of Goddess Durga), Lord Krishna playing his flute while Adiseshan (the multi-headed serpent) protecting him, Lord Krishna dancing while standing on Adiseshan, Lakshmi Narasimha (where goddess Lakshmi is sitting on the left thigh of Narasimha (avatar of Maha Vishnu)), or the thumb sized Lord Anjaneya drinking coconut water, each sculpture and carving are bound to captivate your imagination.

Lakshmi pati sculpture and other beautiful carvings

Add to it the intense details of Bhagavatha, Ramayana and Mahabharata, the beautiful Samudra Manthana image, the rare Ashta Bhuja Lakshmi (8 handed Lakshmi), the various avatars of Vishnu and sculptures of Shiva, Paravathi, Brahma and Ganapati and you have a 800 year old temple gem. And all this is just the exterior of the temple. All my photographs here and the video above show you only the exteriors of the temple, but it is the interior that is the icing on the cake. I didn’t share pictures of the interiors for two reasons. One, because it is a fully functional working temple with daily pujas and hence I did not want to spoil the sanctity of the inner sanctum. Secondly, I want you to visit this temple and see the interiors for yourself with your own eyes.

Krishna playing his flute - Hosaholalu Temple

The interiors are made up of a mantapa with four super polished lathe turned pillars that support the roof and a variety of floor to roof carvings that again depict various sculptures and tell more stories. The ceilings are so well decorated that you will pretty soon notice a cramp in your neck and hence I advise you to lie down on the temple floor and admire it at leisure. The mantapa then further divides into three sanctum sanctorums or garbha griha. The one facing East is the main one and houses Lord Narayana with goddess Lakshmi. Fine lace work can be seen at the front of this garbha griha and beautifully sculpted dwarapalikas can be seen guarding the garbha griha. One can also notice the Dashavatars sculpted on the Prabhavali. Facing North is Ganesha and Sri Venugopla swamy and facing south is Sri Lakshmi Narasimha swamy. Their grabha griha also contains elaborate embroidery work.

The true highlight of the mantapa area has to be the polished granite pillars. Like other Hoysala temples, this one is a pure work of art that even artisans of the modern world with all the technology, tools and machines will struggle to replicate even in the 21st century.

Intricately magnificent - Sri Lakshmi Narayan Swamy temple at Hosaholalu, Karnataka

Even though this temple is much smaller than the ones at Halebid and Belur, most of its exteriors and interiors are in much better condition and hence an absolute treat for the true culture lover. Add to it the rustic surroundings, lack of crowds and easy access from Bangalore and you have an offbeat temple gem that should be high on your next weekend getaway list from Bangalore!

The rear view of Sri Lakshmi Narayan Swamy temple, Hosaholalu, Karnataka

How to reach here:

There are two routes to get to Hosaholalu from Bangalore. One is to take Mysore road and the other is to opt for the Nelamangala-Kunigal road from Bangalore.

If you opt for the Bangalore – Mysore road, your route would be Bangalore –> Nice road –> Ramanagara –> Maddur –> Mandya –> Melukote –> Krishnarajpete –> Hosaholalu.

If you opt for the Bangalore – Hassan road, your route would be Bangalore –> Nice road –> Nelamangala –> Kunigal –> Yadiyur –> Belur cross –> Nagamangala –> Kanthapura –> Krishnarajpete –> Hosaholalu.

Both routes should be between 170 to 190 kms depending on which part of Bangalore you live in and the commute time should be between 3 to 4 hours.

Mohini Avatar shown at Hosaholalu temple

Where to eat:

The nearest place to find good local restaurants would be Krishnaraja pete (KR pete) that is just a couple of kilometers away, but if crave for international cuisine or something specific, you should head to Mysore that is located an hour away.

Sri Lakshmi Narayana Swamy Temple at Hosaholalu, Karnataka

Temple timings:

The temple campus is usually open from sunrise to sunset. However, the temple interiors might be closed from time to time when the priest heads outside either to his home or for some work. The good thing is that the priest has mentioned his contact number on the door of the temple. So those of you who find themselves at the temple but find it closed can call the priest and usually he is extremely accommodating of visitor’s requests.

The intricately carved Hoysala era temple at Hosaholalu

Nearby tourist attractions:

1) The temple town of Melukote

2) Hemagiri falls

3) Somnathpur Chennakeshava temple

4) KRS Dam and Brindavan gardens

5) Mysore palace and Chamundeshwari temple

6) The historical town of Srirangapatna

7) The Jain pilgrimage town of Shravanabelagola

8) Hoysaleswara temple at Halebid

9) Chennakeshava temple at Belur

10) Lakshmi Devi temple at Doddagaddavalli

11) Shettihalli Rosary church ruins



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