If you have seen any Hoysala empire architecture then this Lion will seem very familiar. Folklore suggests that a courageous lad called ‘Sala’ killed a Lion bare handed to save his Jain Guru. ‘Hoy’ means strike and thus the empire was named HoySala.
I really like how ornate the lion is. A beautifully, detailed mane and expressive eyes. Does it resemble the Tibetan lion a little bit? The Halebeedu temple is anyway famous for the amazingly detailed stone work. Maybe this was a Golden age for stone sculpture work in India. If you haven’t been to any of these temples, I suggest put Belur and Halebeedu temples on your bucket list. The stone work is of another level here.
This Lion is very prominent in not only Hoysala architecture but also the Vijayanagar architecture. The Vijayanagar kingdom came a lot later, at a time when Hoysala kingdom was still flourishing. The Virupaksha temple at Hampi which was made during the founding of Vijayanagar empire has so many of these lions – I wonder what it suggests. Vijayanagar got founded with the ‘friendship’ of Hoysala so maybe its a sign of respect? Or maybe they just wanted to adopt something similar for friendships sake?