Friday, 9th March 2018
9 March 2018
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Hoysala Dynasty

Hoysala Dynasty

Hoysala Dynasty

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The Hoysala empire was a prominent Southern Indian Kannadiga empire that ruled most of the modern-day state of Karnataka between the 10th and the 14th centuries.

Founded: 1026

Capitals: Halebidu, Belur


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One of the famous dynasties in the Southern India, Hoysala dynasty is also one of the premiere ruling families of Karnataka. Though vast regions of the northern part of Karnataka were also ruled by this dynasty but it majorly ruled and was based in the South of Karnataka . Also occasional forays into the areas, which were non-Kannada, were also made by the Hoysala dynasty.As per historians and texts, the Hoysalas are generally linked with the Yadava Vamsha of the North. ‘Hoysalas were indigenous to Karnataka’ and this is universally known. This dynasty had its origin in the hilly state of Malengadu. The name of the specific place of their origin is ‘Angadi’ (sosevuru), as per the historians. ‘Angadi’ is located in the Mudigere Talluk of the district of Cikkamagaluru. It is believed that there were intimate relations and connections of the Hoysalas with the Gangas. The Gangas were the ancient rulers of the same region in the early times. It was in the very beginning of the eleventh century that the Hoysala dynasty came into being it flourished till the mid-fourteenth century.

History of Hoysala Dynasty

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Hoyasalas – “Hoy   Sala” meaning “Stike  Sala”. Guru Sudatta Muni said to his student, Sala who was in combat with a tiger.The duo were performing rituals at the Vasantha Parameshwari Temple in a village called Sasakapura or Sosevur.

The tiger attacked them, Sala struck the animal with one blow, and both were immortal.  Sala became the first ruler and founder of the Hoysala dynasty.  This incident was so patronized and it became the emblem of the Hoysala.  The Cholas were defeated by the Holsalas.  Sosevur became the capital of the Hoysala is presently Angadi, a small hamlet of Chikmagalur. The temple of Vasantha Parameshwari lies in ruins.

Journey of the Hoysalas begins1000 years ago, they were not born rulers and still they went onto rule for 300 years. They were tribal chiefs who subordinates of  the Westeren Chalukyas.

Studies show that they were descendants of Yadava clan, some indicates that they were from Male (hills) natives of Malnad. Arekalla, (in 950), Maruga and Nripa Kama I (in 976) are some of the kings from Hoysala. Ones who really shaped the history are King Vishnuvardhan and Veera Bhallalla.

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King Vishnuvardhan, is famous for his patronage to arts along with their exploits on the battlefield. The famous Belur and Halebid Temples were built by him.  During his reign a baffling 1500 temples were built in 958 locations out of which only 100 survive today.Vishnuvardhan was also known as “Bittideva”. He was a Jain who became a Hindu following the preachings of Ramanuja. His queen Shantaladevi continued to patronize Jainism. The Chennakesava temple is important among the temples of Belur.

One can find the inscriptions in the ruins of Angadi. The temple is being restored amidst verdant green plantations. The Archeological Survey of Indian has taken up the restoration of the broken pillars, strewn inscriptions and defigured idols.

However there are several temples tucked away in small hamlets, some of them are Kedareshwara, Dodgaddavalli, Marle, Mosale, Nugehalli, Hosaholalu, Somnathpur, Talakadu, Arasikere, Tarikere, Belavadi, Javagal. Along with the temples are the Basadis. In Tumkur district, Kaidala is the birthplace of the sculptor Jakanacharya who built the temple in Bellur.

Hoysala Kings (1026 – 1343)

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Nripa Kama II (1026 – 1047)
Hoysala Vinayaditya (1047 – 1098)
Ereyanga (1098 – 1102)
Veera Ballala I (1102 -1108)
Vishnuvardhana (1108 – 1152)
Narasimha I (1152 – 1173)
Veera Ballala II (1173 – 1220)
Vira Narasimha II (1220 – 1235)
Vira Someshwara (1235 – 1254)
Narasimha III (1254 – 1291)
Veera Ballala III (1292 – 1343)
Harihaha Raya (1342-1355)

Economy of Hoysala Dynasty

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The Hoysala administration supported itself through revenues from an agrarian economy.The kings gave grants of land as rewards for service to beneficiaries who then became landlords to tenants producing agricultural goods and forest products. Two types of landlords (gavunda) existed; gavunda of people (praja gavunda) lower in status than the wealthy lord of gavundas (prabhu gavunda).The highlands (malnad regions) with its temperate climate proved suitable for raising cattle and the planting of orchards and spices. Paddy and corn served as staple crops in the tropical plains (Bailnad). The Hoysalas collected taxes on irrigation systems including tanks, reservoirs with sluices, canals and wells built and maintained at the expense of local villagers. The state created irrigation tanks such as Vishnusagara, Shantisagara, Ballalarayasagara at their expense. Importing horses for use as general transportation and in army cavalries of Indian kingdoms became a flourishing business on the western seaboard.

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The village assembly assumed responsibity for collecting government land taxes. The government included land revenue, called Siddhaya, in the original assessment (Kula) plus various cesses. Professions, marriages, goods in transit on chariots or carriages, and domesticated animals all had taxes levied on them. Village records note taxes on commodities (gold, precious stones, perfumes, sandalwood, ropes, yarn, housing, hearths, shops, cattle pans, sugarcane presses) as well as produce (black pepper, betel leaves, ghee, paddy, spices, palm leaves, coconuts, sugar). The village assembly could levy a tax for a specific purpose such as construction of a water tank.


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The framework of Hosalya Dynasty was inherited from Chalukyas. The Hosalyas divided the kingdom into Nadus, Kampanas, Vishayas and Deshas. There were officers designated at different levels to run the administrative machinery.

The Hoysalas also had an elite and well trained force of bodyguards known as Garudas protected the members of the royal family at all times. Hero stones (virgal) erected in memory of these bodyguards are called Garuda pillars. The Garuda pillar at the Hoysaleswara temple in Halebidu was erected in honor of Kuvara Lakshma, a minister and bodyguard of King Veera Ballala II.

Literature in the Hoysala Empire

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Royal patronage of local Kannada scholars increased during the Hoysala rule. The Hoysala court supported scholars like Raghavanka, Harihara, Rudrabhatta and Janna whose works are masterpieces in Kannada.

Harihara, a Lingayati writer wrote the Girijakalyana in the old Jain Champu style that narrates the marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati in 10 sections. He was from a family of accountants and wrote over 100 poems in blank verse in praise of Lord Virupaksha. The philosopher, Madhvacharya wrote Rigbhshya in Sanskrit.

Temple Architecture

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Patronage of architecture and art by Hoysalas is more interesting than their military conquests. The brisk temple building was achieved in spite of constant threats from the Seunas Yadavas and Pandyas. Their style of architecture shows distinct Dravidian influences. The Hoysala architecture style is considered an independent architectural tradition having several exclusive features.

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The Chennakesava Temple at Belur, the Hoysaleswara temple at Halebidu, the Chennakesava Temple at Somanathapura, the temples at Arasikere, Amruthapura, Belavadi, Nuggehalli, Hosaholalu, Aralaguppe, Korvangla, Haranhalli, Mosale and Basaralu are a few of the remarkable examples of Hoysala art. Due to the beauty of their sculptures, the temples at Halebidu and Belur are the best known. The temple of Halebidu is as a unique example of Hindu architecture. The temples of Halebidu and Belur are proposed UNESCO world heritage sites.

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The focus of a temple is the centre or sanctum sanctorum (garbagriha) where the image of the deity resides, so temple architecture is designed to move the devotee from outside to the garbhagriha through ambulatory passageways for circumambulation and halls or chambers (mantapas) that become increasingly sacred as the deity is approached.


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At present day, the dynasty has left its reminiscent because of its architectural concepts and designs. They did really well in architecture and constructions. Temples were given awesome and beautiful designs. They were built in a royal way so that the originality and the meaning of temple could be maintained through the construction. They hired craftsmen and established the greatest and majestic temples in their region.


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The Hoysala rulers strongly supported the Kannada language. During the Hoysala era, Sanskrit was completely replaced by Kannada. Temples were used as local schools where Brahmins taught in Sanskrit. Buddhist and Jain monasteries educated trainee monks. The Kannada language was widely used to express the experience of proximity to the deity. Literary works were written in Kannada on palm leaves. During the Hoysala reign, Shaiva and early Brahminical works gained popularity. Writings in Sanskrit included drama, prose fiction, commentaries on older works, rhetoric, manuals, lexicon, grammar and poetry. Inscriptions on stone and copper plates were mostly written in Kannada.

Decline of the Hoysala Empire

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Major political changes were taking place in the Deccan region in the early 14th century when significant areas of northern India were under Muslim rule. Alla-ud-din Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi, was determined to bring South India under his domain and sent his commander, Malik Kafur, on a southern expedition to plunder the Seuna capital Devagiri in 1311. The Seuna Empire was subjugated by 1318 and the Hoysala capital Halebidu (also called Dorasamudra or Dwarasamudra) was sacked twice, in 1311 and 1327.

Read about other dynasties

Gupta dynasty
Chola dynasty
Chalukya dynasty



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