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Mandya’s Hoysala legacy

GS Paper 1

Syllabus: Indian Culture – Salient Aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from Ancient to modern times


Source: TH

 Context: The temples in the Mandya district of Karnataka, belonging to the period of the Hoysalas, have failed to grab as much attention as they deserve.


The Hoysala Empire:


  • It was a Kannadiga power (founder – Sala) that ruled most of what is now Karnataka between the 10th – 14th centuries.
  • The capital of the Hoysalas was initially located at Belur but was later moved to Halebidu.
  • Taking advantage of the warfare between the Western Chalukya Empire and Kalachuris of Kalyani, the Hoysalas annexed the fertile areas north of the Kaveri delta.
  • By the 13th century, they governed most of Karnataka, entire northwestern parts of Tamil Nadu and parts of western Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.


Importance of the Hoysala era:

  • It was an important period in the development of South Indian art, architecture, and religion.
  • The empire is remembered today primarily for Hoysala architecture – 100 surviving temples are scattered across Karnataka.
  • Well-known temples Chennakeshava Temple in Belur, Hoysaleswara Temple in Halebidu, Chennakesava/Keshava Temple in Somanathapura (Mysuru), etc., are known as an amazing displays of sculptural exuberance.


Architectural features of Hoysala temples:

  • Most of the temples follow the ekakuta, dvikuta or trikuta pattern – temples with a single, double or three garbhagrihas or sanctum sanctorum.
  • There are only two examples of Panchakuta shrines or temples – Keshava temple and the Panchalingeshwara temple (Mandya).


Famous temples in Mandya district:

Panchalingeshwara temple



Panchakuta shrine, with five sanctums containing five shivalingas.

At the doorways are two dwarapalas guarding the sanctum, and the signature of the famous sculptor of the Hoysala period Mallithamma is clearly visible even today

Lakshminarayana temple



Built on a high platform with stellate corners with elephant sculptures that is typical of most Hoysala temples.

 A fine specimen of Hoysala style known for ornate embellishment with sculptures and carvings that is evident both in the temple interiors and the outer walls.

Wall panels have remarkable sculptures of Panduranga, Govardhanadhari, Dhanavantri, and Dakshinamurthi, etc.

Brahmeshwara temple


Constructed during the regime of Narasimha I with all the salient features attributable to the Hoysala architecture.
Saumyakeshava temple


Dated to the 12th century CE and renovated by successive dynasties, it has both Vijayanagar and post-Vijayanagar features.

Reasons why Mandya’s temples are less popular among tourists:

  • Proximity to Mysuru, a popular tourist destination, has robbed the sheen off Mandya.
  • This is despite the fact that Mandya has 50 State-protected and Centre-protected monuments against 39 in the Mysuru district.


Way ahead:

  • Installing signboards giving cross-references to important monuments in the district in places where tourist footfalls are high.
  • With the popularity of these monuments, efforts to conserve the architectural marvels (most of which are nearly 1000 years old) should grow.


Conclusion: Bringing the lesser-known monuments to public light is important not only from a tourism perspective but to showcase a slice of history and heritage.


Insta Links:



Mains Links:

Chola architecture represents a high watermark in the evolution of temple architecture. Discuss. (UPSC 2013)


Prelims Links: (UPSC 2019)

Building ‘Kalyana Mandapas’ was a notable feature in the temple construction in the kingdom of

  1. Chalukya
  2. Chandela
  3. Rashtrakuta
  4. Vijayanagara


Ans: 4