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The hidden gems of Hassan

Bindu Gopal Rao, May 8 2017, 23:59 IST
Mavinkere Hills

Mavinkere Hills

Located about 180 km from Bengaluru, Hassan has so many secrets up its sleeve that it must be on every traveller’s itinerary. This district, which reached its pinnacle under the Hoysala rule, has a rich past. Blessed with scenic natural sights, this is also a treasure trove of Hoysala architecture and sculpture. It is believed that Hassan got its name after the presiding deity of this place, Goddess Hasanamba. Here are some lesser-known places that you must not miss on your next visit to Hassan.

Gorur Dam

Said to be India’s second largest earth dam, it was built in 1979 in Gorur village. Formed across the Hemavathi reservoir, the dam is huge and can be reached via a short walk from the main gate. The reservoir is used for both drinking and irrigation purposes by nearby villages. If you visit this place post monsoons, you can see the water in full force. Permission is necessary from the authorities to go on the top of the dam to see the reservoir.

Temples of Mosale

The twin temples of Nageshwara and Channakeshava in Mosale have intricately designed architecture and scriptures that are widely believed to be prototypes of the famed temples of Belur and Halebidu.

Chennakeshava Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Nageshwara Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and both are built in the Hoysala style of architecture.

Located in a tiny village, the place is quiet and you can spend a lot of time admiring the detailed carvings. In fact, locals believe that if you visit these temples, you get an idea of what the temples are like in Belur and Halebidu. Afterwards, take a walk around the village to get a glimpse of the rural life.

Sri Ranganatha Temple
Mavinakere is a small village near Holenarasipura and is known for its Sri Ranganatha Temple. It is a cave temple on top of a hill with a star-shaped architecture and also has a statue of Hanuman. This place is also known for the ancient Mavinakere Sri Lakshmi Venkataramanaswamy Temple. This temple is frequented by people as the deity is a family deity for many. In the temple premises, we can see stones arranged in parallel lines that remind you of the Stonehenge in England.

Holenarasipura
A small town on the banks of the Hemavati, Holenarasipura is home to an ancient temple dedicated to Narasimha, an incarnation of Vishnu. The name of the town is derived from three Kannada words — hole (river), Narasi (Narasimha, the presiding deity), and the pura (town). The main deity here is that of Lakshmi Narasimha and this temple is said to be about 650 years old. The temple exhibits the Chola architectural style. Legend has it that Vasishta Maharshi visited this place and prayed to Lord Narasimha. The annual car festival is called the Brahmotsava and this is when pilgrims flock this place.

The temple premises are quite expansive and there are numerous smaller structures dedicated to other gods and goddesses.

Sri Ramadevara Dam

This is an old dam that dates back to 1870 (as per a sign board here). From here, you can view magnificent sunrises and sunsets. The best part of the dam is that there is a path where you can walk through to the other end. Water is there on both sides and often touches your feet. There are small temples on either side of the waterbody that have old carved stones. It is believed that one of these temples actually has the goddess who protects the village. Being a waterbody, this is a great place to spot birds such as egrets, Indian pond heron and bulbuls.

Hassan has many more attractions that you can visit as well. These include the Veeranarayana Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu built around 1104 AD in the Chalukya style of architecture and the District Museum that has a large collection of antiques of archaeological importance.

In fact, the best way to discover Hassan is by talking to the locals who are sure to point out some rare gems that are off the tourist track. Hassan is certainly a place that has many places to discover and the best part is how nature and history come together seamlessly in one place.

Shettihalli Church
A circuitous drive through sand, gravel and vegetation that seems a little treacherous at first, leads you to the stunning ruins of Shettihalli Church. Built on the banks of River Hemavathi in the 19th century by French missionaries in India, the church gets half-submerged during the monsoons as it is located in the backwaters, and looks magical. Many people flock here at this time of the year to get a glimpse of the church.

However, I went in the summer and still came away enamoured by the beauty of this gothic architectural site. The European influence on the design is very evident and even though it is in ruins, this place makes for some beautiful pictures.

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