A date with a 17.5m tall naked man
Trip Start Mar 03, 2008
10Trip End Mar 31, 2008
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Where I stayed
Jain Association guesthouse
Hotel Survarna Regency, Hassan
Shravanabelagola is an important pilgrimage place for Jains (an offshoot of Hinduism) who are mostly based in North India
I had a lovely thali in the one eaterie in town and went back to my sparse room to read the Luxury of Time by Jane Tomlinson and her husband which is such a moving and humbling book about her original breast cancer diagnosis and how she tackled that and the secondary cancer 10 years later and of course her determination to rise to the challenges of running the marathon and doing the triathlon. The streets were quiet, no rickshaws beeping in this village but plenty of howling dogs all night to disturb the peace.
The next day I was up at 6am for a solitary climb up to the top of the hill again, stopping to watch sunrise on the plains below and then I sat in the peaceful walled enclosure to marvel at the statue once more as the sun hit it from a different angle. There were more visitors that morning including a Jain monk who was totally starkers as is traditional for Jain monks who are devoid of all wordly possessions and beyond feelings of modesty and shame
Arriving in Hassan, I was seriously hot, sweaty and exhausted with all the bus travel. Hassan is a very chaotic, noisy town with nothing of interest for the traveller, so I didn't bother to get my bearings and just got a rickshaw to a hotel recommended in my guide book. They said they only had double rooms available, so when I threatened to take my business elsewhere, a single room miraculously became free! Hotel Survarna Regency turned out to be a good deal with TV, good fan, 24 hour hot water and a shower that actually worked. Not bad for £5. I decided I was too knackered to take the three cheap buses to the nearby temples in Belur and Halebid (the reason I'd come to Hassan) an hour or so away, so I splashed out on a driver for 900 rps for the afternoon.
Well I've seen some temples in my time with the erotic Khajuraho temples being some of my favourite, but these Hoysalan temples were seriously phenomenal. I got a guide at Belur who showed me round the Vishnu temple and I burnt my feet on the hot stones as I gazed in awe at the sculpturally exquisite and detailed carvings made of sandstone over every inch of the 12th century structure. It was built to commemorate the victory of the Hoysalas over the Chola rulers and the images of all the Hindu gods, dancers and animals were a testament to the skill of the sculpters at the time. Halebid was quieter and not as well preserved but still beautiful and set in nice grounds.