The king Bittiga of Halebid is said to have been reconverted to Hinduism and consecrated by 'Sri Ramanuja', one of the three eminent social reformers and religious heads of Hinduism. He was then rechristened as Vishnuvardhana. Mohammad Bin Tuglaq ravaged this city when he conquered the region in 1327 AD. Now, the city stands as a backwater village.
There is a wonderful Shiva temple in Halebid, which reflects the volumes of the Hoysala architectural excellence. The rechristened king Vishnuvardhana built it in 1121 AD. The temple has two Garbhagrihas or 'Sanctum Sanctorums'. The 'Shiva Lingas', the usual icon representation of Lord Shiva in these Garbhagrihas are known as Hoysaleswara and Shanthaleswara. These were named after the king and the queen. This temple in Halebid took 80 long years of meticulous hard work but still the temple remains incomplete in construction. There is a shrine dedicated to Lord Surya, the Sun God behind the sanctorum of Lord Hoysaleswara. It is a two metre tall image and in front there is the enormous statue of Lord Nandi, the sacred Bull mount of Lord Siva. The walls of this temple are decorated with exquisite friezes of various deities and the marvellous sculptures of human figures.
The scenes from 'The Ramayana', 'The Mahabharatha' and 'The Bhagavath Geetha' are also portrayed in the temple walls. The lower part of these walls depict the various aspects of a glorious past which include among other facets, the social life, the dance forms, the music renditions, victories, etc. There are also remarkable reliefs of Lord Ganesha with an ornate Crown, Lord Nandi and Lord Nataraja, the dancing form of Lord Shiva. The extraordinary portal seems to attest the marvels inside. There is a museum in front of the temple, which displays the artifacts of temple architecture. The visitors can contact the Manager or the Tourist Officer, Karnataka Tourism for accommodation.