Hoysala Mahotsav – A Magnificent Celebration of Culture and Heritage
Ours is a country of culture and traditions, and festivals play a big part in honouring them. While there are some festivals which are celebrated all over the country, some like the Hoysala Mahotsav, have a regional significance. It is a traditional festival of dance and music that’s one of the most important cultural festivals of Karnataka. It’s a grand celebration that honours music, dance, and art and its practitioners.
The Hoysala Mahotsav is an annual festival that’s celebrated every year during the months of March and April. The venues are the magnificent Hoysala Temples at Belur and Halebid. These two hamlets come alive while hosting the most significant traditional festival of dance and music. If you are looking for things to do in Karnataka, be sure to honour the traditional dance and music of Karnataka at the Hoysala Mahotsav.
The Hoysala Mahotsav is celebrated rather differently than other festivals of Karnataka. While the focus is mostly on the performers and performances, the stunning Hoysala Temples in the background take your breath away with their intricate workmanship. Artistes come in from all over the country to mesmerise the festival attendees with their flawless performances. This is your chance to be a part of Karnataka’s famous festival. Pack your bags now!
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Like its name suggests, the Hoysala Mahotsav is dedicated to the Hoysala Dynasty that ruled this region for 340 years. The dynasty was a great patron of arts in all its forms and promoted Kannada and Sanskrit literary artists. So it comes as no surprise that the festival named after the Hoysala Dynasty honours the traditional dance and music of Karnataka even today. The festival has a rich, long history.
It may be one of the oldest festivals of Karnataka. It’s said that this festival was first celebrated to commemorate the military victory of the Hoysala King in 1117 AD. What is now the village of Halebid was the capital of the Hoysala Kingdom for 150 years. It was then known as Dwarasamudra. The kingdom’s capital was later shifted to Belur after being repeatedly invaded and robbed of its treasures.
Since then, the fates of Belur and Halebid have been inextricably linked, an unbreakable bond that survives even today. The events and performances featured in Karnataka’s famous festival are divided between these two venues which are located around 16 kilometres from each other. Despite being integral parts of one of the most important festivals of Karnataka, the Hoysala Temples stand out with quiet dignity that they have earned over centuries.
Adorned with some of the best elements of Hoysala Architecture and exquisite carvings, the Hoysala Temples have withstood the ravages of time, and invaders, for centuries. They are the living canvases that have preserved the period’s art for posterity. The 12th century Chennakesava Temple in Belur was built to commemorate an important Hoysala victory over the Cholas. It is a breath-taking piece of art that took 103 years to build!
Every inch of the temple features magnificent carvings that were lovingly carved by nameless artisans centuries ago. Belur is known as Dakshin Varanasi due to its temples. Similarly, the Hoysaleswara Temple in Halebid is famous for its Shivalingam and Gigantic Nandi figurines. A visit to these temples is one of the most highly recommended things to do in Karnataka. These temples make the perfect backdrop for the festival’s performances. The twinkling lamps and the classical music take you back centuries.
One of the most important cultural festivals of Karnataka is celebrated in style! The festivities feature a grand, colourful parade that includes elephants heavily adorned with colours and ornaments. Numerous bands show off their musical prowess as the entire crowd marches to the beat of the festival’s heartbeat. The people of Karnataka take immense pride in Hoysala Mahotsav as it’s one of those festivals of Karnataka that showcases their culture.
The festival days are spent being a part of these parades, but the evenings are reserved for performances. These performances are the highlights of Hoysala Mahotsav, going back to the days when temples used to be the biggest patrons of performing arts. The dynasty of Hoysalas was also known to sponsor and encourage artists and art in all its forms.
Even if you are not attending the crème de la crème of the festivals of Karnataka, the Hoysala Temples will mesmerise you with their stunning artwork. The delicate designs often belie the capabilities of the simple tools that the artisans used to create these. It speaks volumes about the artisan’s skills leaving you in awe of their perseverance and dedication.
This festival is among the top festivals of Karnataka, and your chance to be a part of something special.
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