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South India 2015

As we began to plan our fourth trip to the subcontinent, we decided it was time to explore South India…

From Mumbai to Chennai via the southern tip of India: we visited Goa, some sites of Karnataka we had not seen before, toured the Western Ghats, got bored in Kerala before getting our fill of temples in Tamil Nadu.

Read on to learn how we fared along the road, what we saw, liked (and did not like).

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Southern Karnataka



The temples of Belur and Halebid, dating from the 12th century are true treasures of architecture. The sculptures and bas reliefs are so vivid and fine, that we nearly expected them to come to life before our eyes. We have a blog entry with general impressions of Southern Karnataka and also dedicated a photo gallery to the temples and landscapes of Hampi.

Hoysaleshvara temple in Halebid, the second capital of the Hoysala dynasty which reigned over a large kingdom between the rivers Krishna and Kaveri from the 10th to the mid 14th century. This temple, dedicated to Shiva, was begun in 1121 but never finished.Halebid, Hoysaleshvara temple: friezes of animals interspersed with carvings of scenes of the Ramayana surround the base of the temple.Halebid, Hoysaleshvara temple: detail of one of the friezes depicting musicians.Halebid, Hoysaleshvara temple: row of dancers, each one different from the other.Halebid, Hoysaleshvara temple: dancers between Kali on the left and Krishna on the right.Halebid, Hoysaleshvara temple: Lord Krishna lifting Govardhan hill so that people and animals could stay beneath it and escape torrential rains which the god Indra had sent in a wrath.Halebid, Hoysaleshvara temple: dancing Ganesh.Halebid, Hoysaleshvara temple: female dancer and musician.Chennakeshava temple in Belur, the first capital of the Hoysala dynasty. This temple was commissioned in 1116 to commemorate the victory of the Hoysalas over the Cholas at the battle of Talakad. It is dedicated to Krishna.Belur, Chennakeshava temple: Sala fighting a lion (or a tiger). The legend has it that a young man Sala, saved his Jain guru by killing (striking) a lion. The word “strike” literally translates to “hoy” in old Kannada language, hence the name “Hoy-sala” adopted by the ruling dynasty who made this story theirs. This legend has been reinforced after the victory over the Cholas at Talakad, represented as the fight between the mythical Sala and a tiger, the emblem of the Cholas.Belur, Chennakeshava temple: this could be the stuff of your worst nightmares... Narasimha, an avatar of Vishnu, killing the demon king Hiranyakashipu.Belur, Chennakeshava temple: carved screen inside the temple, Krishna playing his flute is depicted in the centre of the bottom row.Belur, Chennakeshava temple: a graceful and voluptuous female dancer.Belur, Chennakeshava temple: it is said that this finely carved column in the centre of the sanctuary could be rotated.Belur, Chennakeshava temple: this sculpted woman is watching her admirers in a very moving and expressive way.Shravana Belagola, an important Jain pilgrimage site: view from the Viandhyagiri hill where the main temple is located down on the village 143 metres below.Shravana Belagola: the statue of Gommateshwara, erected at the end of the 10th century, 17.5 meters high, representing prince Bahubali, after he had gained enlightenment after a very long meditative retreat in a forest (as the vines curling along his legs and arms attest).Srirangapatnam: the Jama Masjid built by Tipu Sultan in 1787.Srirangapatnam: the summer palace of Tipu Sultan built in 1784.Srirangapatnam: the palace outer walls are decorated with impressive frescoes depicting Tipu Sultan's battles and victories over the British.Srirangapatnam: although Tipu Sultan seems to have thought his British ennemies clueless as shown in this detail of one of the frescoes, they nevertheless defeated him on his own grounds in May 1799.Srirangapatnam: inner halls of the summer palace with lavishly decorated walls and ceilings.Srirangapatnam: the Gumbaz, the family mausoleum of Tipu Sultan, his father Hyder Ali and his mother.Mysore: Amba Vilas Palace by night. It was built from 1897 to 1912 for the Wodeyar rulers in indo-saracenic style by the english architect Henry Irving to replace a former palace destroyed by fire.Mysore: the private Durbar hall in Amba Vilas Palace with its stunning glass ceiling and cast-iron pillars.Mysore: the public Durbar hall in Amba Vilas Palace, richly decorated in gold, turquoise and pink colours.Mysore: the catholic cathedral of St Philomena contains relics of the 3rd century saint in a crypt under the main altar. Its construction started in 1936 and was completed in 1959, its twin spires towering at 50m reminded us of the Cologne cathedral in Germany.

Go back to Hampi or go on to Riding Ooty's Toy Train or go up to Photos