Happy in Hassan

If you have been dreaming of a short getaway, look no further than Hassan — the home of iconic temples, scenic hills, and thrilling tales, writes Vathsala V P

Lakshminarayana Temple, Hosaholalu

Hassan. The name that reminds us of the architecturally splendid temples of Belur and Halebid. In fact, this eighth largest town of the state is also home to the Master Control Facility of the Indian Space Research Organisation. Founded in the 11th century by Channa Krishnappa Naik, a palegar (chieftain), this town owes its name to the presiding deity of the place, Goddess Hasanamba. Hassan is the perfect place for a short getaway with the many attractions it hosts. Here are a few places you could explore when in Hassan:

Hasanamba Temple

This temple dedicated to Goddess Hasanamba, dating back to 12th Century, is believed to have been constructed during Sanjeeva Krishnappa Nayaka’s period. The uniqueness of this temple is that it will be open only once a year, for about a week, during Deepavali. Lakhs of pilgrims from far and near throng the place. A big jatra (fair) is also held on this occasion. Though not a structure with sculptural extravaganza, the shrine has its own legends and uniqueness. The temple complex, with an entrance tower rising to 81 feet, has 101 lingas consecrated at a place, and also a shrine of Siddeshwara. The sanctum has a rock with the images of Arjuna receiving pashupatastra from Shiva, and also of a few animals. Goddess Hasanamba is revered for the miracles and legends associated with her. The practice of opening the doors of the temple only for a few days during Deepavali is being followed for years now.

Belur

Located at a distance of 34 km from Hassan, on the banks of River Yagachi, Belur was once the capital of the Hoysala empire. The awe-inspiring Chennakesava Temple here, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, was built by the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana. A fine example of Hoysala architecture, it is believed that it took nearly 103 years to construct this temple. A feast for connoisseurs of temple architecture, this temple is an important pilgrimage site in Vaishnavism, and is known for its exquisite carvings that narrate stories from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Puranas. Formerly known as Velapuri, Belur was chosen as the alternative capital city by the Hoysalas after the destruction of their then-capital Dwarasumudra, which is now known as Halibeedu or Halibidu by the Sultans of Northern India.

Bisle Ghat viewpoint
Bisle Ghat viewpoint

Halebidu

Halebidu, which is home to Hoysaleswara Temple, is about 39 km from Hassan, and 16 km from Belur. Built in 1121 AD, this temple is an architectural marvel that is actually more impressive than the Chennakesava Temple in Belur. The walls of the temple are covered with detailed friezes and sculptures depicting scenes from the Hindu epics. This erstwhile capital of the Hoysala empire is also home to Kedareshwara Temple and Jain temples that are equally rich in sculptural detail. This town, too, suffered the attacks of Muslim rulers of the Delhi Sultanate in the early 14th century.

Shravanabelagola

About 52 km from Hassan is Shravanabelagola, one of the most popular Jain pilgrim centres of Karnataka. Nestled between two hills — Indragiri and Chandragiri — Shravanabelagola is famous for its monolithic statue of Lord Gomateshwara or Bhagawan Bahubali, a Jain saint. This statue, 18 metres high, is said to be one of the tallest and most graceful monolithic statues in the world. It was installed by a Ganga general and scholar, Chavundaraya. The grand Mahamastakabisheka that takes place once every 12 years, which is the head anointing ceremony of Bhagawan Bahubali, attracts devotees from all over the world. The place is teeming with basadis that are worth a visit.

Gorur

An ideal picnic spot, Gorur is located at a distance of 22 km from Hassan. Gorur Dam across River Hemavathy, built in 1979, is the main source of water for drinking and irrigation purposes for the people of Hassan district. The garden at the dam site, and the temples of Yoganarasimha and Paravasudeva here, are the main tourist attractions. Visiting the dam early in the morning affords views of beautiful birds, while late evening visits offer splendid sunset views.

Bisle Ghat

Located between Sakaleshpur and Kukke Subrahmanya, Bisle Ghat is a picturesque stretch that is almost like heaven to nature lovers and trekkers alike. A drive through this ghat offers breathtaking views of the mountain ranges around, and a number of waterfalls, especially during the rainy season.

Hosaholalu

About 60 km from Hassan is Hosaholalu in Mandya district, famous for its Lakshminarayana Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Dating back to 13th century, this temple is a fine example of Hoysala architecture, and is famous for its exquisite sculptures. It is believed to have been constructed during the reign of Hoysala King Vira Someshwara. This temple attracts a lot of pilgrims during the annual rathotsava in the month of February, when a cattle fair is also held.

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