Just over three hours from Bangalore; a smooth drive on the newly laid NH-48 leads you to Hassan town. Ideal for a quick getaway from Bangalore, Hassan is situated in the heart of Malnad (or â€˜malenaduâ€™ â€“ region covering western and eastern slopes of the Western Ghats in Karnataka), and is blessed with pleasant climate all round the year.
Hassan is most famous for its Hoysala temples. If you love ancient temple architecture, you may want to spend more than a weekend here. Although Hassan is a burgeoning town and does not have many attractions except for the Hassanamba temple, it is a great place to base yourself because of the sheer number of stay options. About 40kms from Hassan is Belur which was once the capital of the mighty Hoysala rulers. With such a glorious past, the sleepy town of Belur is a revelation, especially the architectural genius of the Chennakeshava Temple, often hailed as a â€˜jewel in stoneâ€™. If you travel another 15kms, you will reach Halebidu the second capital of the Hoysalas. Though the temple is similar to the star-shaped structure at Belur, the beautifully chiseled figures at the Hoysaleshwar temple at Halebidu are larger in comparison.
Apart from the well known Hoysala temples of Belur and Halebidu, there are various other temples like the 13th century stunningly beautiful twin temples at Mosale (14 kms from Hassan)and several shrines at Gorur (20kms). Other interesting sights are the ruins of Manjarabad Fort (46kms), built by Tipu Sultan and Shettyhalli backwaters (13 kms).
On the way to Hassan, you can take a 12 km (deviation) from the town of Channarayapatna that takes you to the town of Shravanabelagola famous for its 58ft Gomateshwara statue. It is considered to be be the world's tallest free-standing monolithic statue. A total of 612 steps lead you to the summit of Indragiri Hill which houses the overwhelming statue of Gomateshwara.
Hassan's history can be traced back to the 11th century during the rule of the Hoysala dynasty. Belur near Hassan was the early capital of the Hoysala Empire. It is believed that most of the earlier kings of the dynasty were of Jain faith but the later kings dedicated the finest temple to lord Shiva.
All buses plying to Mangalore and most buses to Chikmagalur will stop at Hassan. If you are driving from Bangalore, take NH-4 to Nelamangala,turn left onto NH-48 to Mangalore. It takes you via Kunigal, Yediyur and Channarayapatna to Hassan.
The century old Hassanamba Temple is a prime attraction of Hassan. Dedicated to Goddess Amba, the temple's inner chamber is open to devotees only for a week every year.
Halebid near Belur is another popular destination mainly due to its famous temples, most notably the Hoysaleswara Temple. The Hoysaleswara Temple dates back to the 12th century and is known for its beautiful sculptural display.
Belur is the most famous tourist destination in Hassan. Belur is known for its Chennakesava Temple Complex, which houses the Chennakesava Temple and the Kappe Chennigraya Temple. The Chennakesava temple is one of the most well-known holy shrines in the region and is visited by thousands of pilgrims every year.
Shravanabelagola, a holy place for Jains, is another popular destination in Hassan. Shravanabelagola is famous for the ceremony of Mahamastakabhisheka that is held once every twelve years. Ramanathpura, also known as the "Dakshina Kashiâ€ because of its temples is another popular destination. Ramanathpura is also popular for bird watching.
Some other famous tourist places in and around Hassan include the Siddeshvara Temple, Bisle Ghat, Veeranarayana Temple and Gorur Dam.
The man who never in his mind and thoughts travel'd to heaven is no artist.