Hoysaleshwara and Kedareshwara temples are the masterpieces of art on stone sculpture. Halebidu temples are well known for their artistic brilliance on the outer surface of temple walls and pillars.
Halebidu (Dwarasamudra) was the wealthy capital of the Hoysala kings found early in the 11 century A.D. The city was ransacked by Malik kafur in 1311 A.D. Another Muslim invasion in 1327, almost destroyed the city.
The splendor of the city is testified to not only by the accounts of its fabulous riches obtained from its conquest as related by Muslim historians, but also by its architectural monuments which still rank among the masterpieces of art. The most remarkable of these are the Hoysaleshwara and Kedareshwara temples. Hoysaleshwara temple has the deities of Lord Hoysaleswara and Lord Shantaleshwara. Kedareswara, though smaller, is a gem of art. According to inscriptions, this temple was built by Ballala II and his consort Abhinava Ketaladevi at the beginning of the 12th century. The elaborateness of ornamentation of these temple can be compared to 'jewellery'.
Hoyasaleswara temple, which was built about the year 1141, consists of four entrances. The entrances are elegantly done with beautifully sculptured lintels. This temple is the largest existing structure of the Hoysala style. Beginning from the right side of the north entrance, above the frieze, there is a 11 ft parapet consisting of beautifully carved figures of elephants, lions, horsemen and details of Puranic scenes. Beginning from the right side of the southern entrance, above the frieze of swans, runs a row of large images with various kinds of ornamental canopies and pedestals decorated with scroll work all along the western face and up to the left side of the northern doorway. On the west face are found six car like niches, about 15 ft high, in two storeys. There are four friezes in these niches, each of which has two large figures on the outer right and left walls in both the storeys, The lintels contain beautifully executed Dvarapalakas supported by female Chauri – bearers.
The Kedareswara temple closely resembles the Channakeshava temple at Somanatapur . The terrace on which the temple is built is supported at the angles by figures of elephants facing out-wards. The friezes found on the outer walls are the same as found in the Hoysaleswara temple, with one exception, in the place of lions, the figures of horsemen are found here. There are total 176 large figures on the outer walls, of which 90 are male and the rest are female. On the cast face of the temple is a buttress like projection having a row of 31 large images of which 19 are female. The gods and goddesses represented here are Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Saraswathi. Facing the main entrance is the Shiva - Parvathi panel seated on the Nandi. The back walls of the temple facing the Dwarasamudra lake have some of the finest sculptures. The Kaliya mardana panel depicting Krishna dancing on the hoods of the enraged king cobra Kaliya, is completely life-like in its presentation.
The Dwarasamudra city is said to have originally contained no less than 720 Jaina bastis. Now there are only 3 i.e., those cf Adinatheshwara, Shantishwara and parshwanatheshwara, all at Basti Halli. The last one is the largest of these bastis. Halebid containing an image of Parshvanatha, about 14 ft high. There is hill in Halebid called Pushpagiri which contains a round pillared pavilion built by the Hoysalas. There is also a Vishnu temple here which was rebuilt by the Vijayanagara rulers, with the help of old materials in the Dravidian style. Visitors can climb to the top of the hill, where facing cast is another temple of Mallikarjuna. The entrance leading to the inner navagraha is an excellent piece of Hoyasala architecture, with the image of Gajalakshmi on the lintel and Rathi and Manmatha on the jambs as the Belur temple. To the north of this temple is a Parvathi Devi temple which was also rebuilt.
The Belur temple is renowed for its artistic perfection in the interior, the Halebid temples are well known for their artistic brilliance on the outer surface. A number of images which were gathered within a radius of ten miles of Halebid proper have been kept in a museum.