Hoysala Empire

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The Hoysala Empire ruled part of southern India from 1000 to 1346. Their capital city was Belur. The Hoysala Empire is remembered today primarily for its architecture; surviving examples are found in the cities of Belur and Halebid.

Hoysalas begin their rule as subordinates of the Chalukyas of Kalyani and gradually they established their own empire in Karnataka. Some of the most magnificent specimens of South Indian temples are those attributed to the Hoysala dynasty of Karnataka. How this powerful dynasty got its name is a tale that must have been narrated time and again. Hoy Sa'la meaning "strike Sa'la!", were the words spoken to Sa'la ( legendary head of this dynasty) to kill the tiger. Since Sa'la tackled the tiger single-handed and killed him, this heroic deed took the form of the dynasty's name.

The rulers of this clan were called the Yadava Kings who ruled with tremendous power after having defeated the Chalukyas and rose above all to become the paramount rulers even over the Cholas and Pandyas in South India. Hoysalas period is one of the brightest periods in the history of Karnataka. They ruled Karnataka for over three centuries from about 1040 A.D to 1342. The most famous kings among the Hoysalas were Vishnuvardhana, Ballala II and Ballala III. Jainism flourished during the Hoysala period. Ramanuja the founder of Shri Vaishnavism, came to Hoysala kingdom to spread his religion. Hoysalas encouraged both Kannada and Sanskrit literature and earned a great name as builders of temples at Belur, Halebid, Somanathapura etc., which were built in the Hoysala style.

The Hoysala dynasty originally had their capital at Halebid (about 17 kms from Belur) where they ruled for over 150 years. However, it was attacked by invaders a couple of times during the 14th century, reducing the once grand capital to poverty and ruins. Thus, the Hoysalas shifted their seat of power to Belur which stood proud as a powerful empire back then.

The Hoysala continued the great traditions of their art-loving overlords the Kalyana Chalukyas, and their fine temples are found at Beluru, Helebidu and Somanathapura. Vishnuvardhana (1108-1142AD) freed Gangavadi from the Cholas (who had held it from 999), and in commemoration of his victory, built the celebrated Vijayanarayana (Chennakeshva) Temple at Belur. His commander Katamalla built the famous Hoysaleshwara temple at Halebidu. Though Vishnuvardhana did not succeed in his serious effort to overthrow the Chalukyan yoke, his grandson Balla II (1173-1220) not only became free, but even defeated Sevuna Bhillama V at Soraturu in 1190, after having defeated Chalukyas Someshwara IV in 1187. When the Cholas were attacted by the Pandyas in Tamilnadu, Balla II drove the Pandyas back and thus assumed the title "Establisher of the Chola Kingdom". Later, in the days of his son Narasimha II (1120-1135), Hoysalas even secured a foothold in Tamilnadu and Kuppam, near Srirangam became a second capital of the Hoysalas. Ballala III (1291-1343), the last Hoysala, had to struggle hard to hold his own against the invasion of the Delhi Sultan. He died fighting the Sultan of Madhurai. It was his commanders, Harihara and Bukka, who founded the Vijayanagra Kingdom, which later grew to be an empire. Hoysala age saw great Kannada poets like Rudrabhatta, Janna, Harihara and Raghavanka. Hoysala temples at Beluru, Halebidu, Somanathapur, Arasikere, Amritapura etc., are wonderful works of art.

Hoysalas had minted various kinds of coins. Their gold coin was called Honnu which weighed 62 grains of gold. Pana was 1/10 of the Honnu. Haga was 1/4 of the Pana. Visa was 1/4th of Haga. There were coins called Bele and Kani as well.sv:Hoysala

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