Halasi or Halsi or Halshi

Halasi also known as Halsi or Halshi is a town in Belgaum district of Karnataka. It is famous for having been the capital of a branch of Kadamba Dynasty. The town is rich in historical monuments and temples and is near Khanapur.

Halasi is in Background of Western Ghats in lush green atmosphere. It was the second capital of the Kadambas of Banavasi. The huge Bhuvaraha Narasimha temple has tall images of Varaha, Narasimha, Narayana and Surya. The place has a fort, and also temples of Gokarneshswara, Kapileshwara, Swarneshwara and Hatakeshwara.

Halasi or Halsi in Belgaum District was their second capital where there are some temples built by the Kadamba rulers. The Kadambas were known for their own style of temple building. The dynasty was founded by Mayurasharma in about 4th century AD. It was believed that Mayura was the first king of the dynasty and was the ruler during the time of Pallava King Vishnugopa of Kachipuram. After losing to North Indian Emperor Samudragupta, Vishnugopa's army had weakened. Mayura seized the opportunity, formed his own army and drove away the Pallavas from Kannada territory.

On reaching Chandravalli (near Chitradurga), Mayura took shelter in a cave and founded his own dynasty. Banavasi, near Sirsi, was their first capital and their rule extended to Gomantak or present day Goa.

Kadamba Period Halasi Inscriptions

Jaina temple at Halasi
Full scale excavations at Halasi and Gudnapur are bound to yield the brick temples of this early period. That would, show the contribution of the Kadambas of Banavasi to the Jaina architecture of Karnataka. The existance of Jaina temples during the period of the Banavasi Kadambas is amply evidenced by their epigraphs.

All the inscriptions mention gifts for worship and repair to Jaina temples. However, many of them refer to a Jaina temple at Halasi. The Jaina temple now standing at Halasi can not go back to a period earlier than 11th century A.D. Then the question is what happened to the basadis referred to in the inscriptions. Perhaps they might have been built by wood and obviously perished.

The earliest references to a grant by a Kadamba king to a Jaina saint is found in the Halasi copper plate of kakusthavarman. It mentions that the granted village Khatagrama belonged to arhanta. However, a reference to a Jain temple (Chaityalaya) is found in the Devagiri copper plate of Mrigesavarman. The insription states that Mrigesavarman gave a grant for the sammarjana, upalepana, archana and bhagnasamskara of the Chaityalaya located at Brihatparalur. Further he also donated for the enclosure of the Chaityalaya one nivartana of land. This clearly shows that the above Chaityalaya was big enough to have an enclosure also. In the Devagiri inscription of Vijaya Siva Mrigesavarman a reference is made to arhat sale where an image of Jinendra was kept. Mrigesavarman's Halasi inscription of 8th regnal year states that the king built a Jinalaya in memory of his father in Palasika and granted lands to saints of Yapaniya, nirgrantha and kurchaka sangha. Ravivarma's eleventh regnal year inscription found at Halasi refers to a grant for the abhisheka of Jinendra. Obviously this refers to a, Jaina temple. Another inscription of the same king refers to the worship of Jinendra for which four nivartanas of land was granted.

The Halasi inscription of Ravivarma refers to interesting information. It states that the income from the gifted village should be used for eight-day festival in Kartikamasa in the Jinalaya at Palasikanagara. It states at the end wherever Jinendra worship takes place properly, that place will prosper without any fear from enemies and the prowess of the king will improve. The Devagiri plates of prince Devavarma refers to gifts for the worship in the Chaityalaya and for the repairs of the Chaityalaya. The famous Gudnapur inscription of Ravivarman is more explicit on this point. According to this inscription King Ravivarma built a temple, kamajinalaya for Manmatha, very' near the palace (rajavesma) and arranged for its worship by granting lands. At the same time he also gave grants to Kamajinalaya at Hakinipalli and Padmavati temple at Kalliligrama.

According to Dr. B.R. Gopal who has edited this inscription has suggested that this Kamajinalaya is a temple for Bahubali, as Bahubali is described as Manmatha. If this is so, the tradition of erecting gommata sculptures goes back to the period of Kadambas and to sixth century A.D. itself.

According to Dr. A. Sundara has discovered a sculpture of Rati and Manmatha at the same place. Whether this was the sculpture worshipped in the Kamajinalya cannot be ascertained. What is more important is the tradition of building Jaina temples for Manmatha and even Padmavati.

According to A. Sundara's field work at Halasi throws very important light on this point. Very close to the Kallesvara temple at Halasi, he discovered an ancient site going back to megalithic and early historic periods. A large number of brick walls of the ancient period have been noticed by him in and around and abviously he thinks that this represents the Jaina temple built during the Kadamba period.

Bhoo Varaha Laxmi Narasimha Temple
The Archeological Survey of India is looking after this ancient structure. Halasi was called Patalika in ancient times and the Bhoo Varaha Laxmi Narasimha Temple is one of the best examples of the Kadamba style of architecture. The 50 feet tall tower of the inner shrine or garbhagruha is very similar to the Madhukeswar temple in Banavasi built by them.

According to historians, it was built during the Kadamba period or 5th century AD, and inscriptions inside the temple also support this.

According to a legend associated with this shrine, Pandavas built this temple overnight during their exile and worshiped Lord Vishnu here.

According to the temple priest, the two feet tall idol of Narasimha, on the left side of Vishnu, is swayambhu or udbhava and not sculpted by anybody.

Inside the temple
There are two garbhagruhas facing each other. In the right one is the four feet idol of Lord Shri Vishnu in a sitting posture. The idols of Suryanarayana and Mahalaxmi are just behind the main idol.

The garbhagruha on the left side has the idol of Bhoo Varaha Swamy. Lord Vishnu's Varaha avatar, where he carries Mother Earth (or Bhoodevi) in his mouth, can be seen. The beautifully carved lotus on the ceiling goes to prove that the Kadambas patronised and developed their own art form.

Just outside the main temple are smaller temples dedicated to Ganesha, Shiva and Vitthala. One fine statue of Radha Krishna can also be seen in a smaller shrine.