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ಹಾಸನ : is a district in Karnataka state, India. The district headquarters are Hassan, India. Hassan district was the seat of the Hoysala Empire which at its peak ruled large parts of south India from Belur as its early capital and Halebidu as its later capital during the period 1000 - 1334 CE. Today Hassan is primarily known worldwide for its Hoysala architecture and is a veritable treasure trove of about fifty sculptural marvels tucked away in several villages and towns of the district. Hassan is also known as the location of the
The history of Hassan district is essentially the history of two of the well known dynasties that have ruled Karnataka, the Western Ganga Dynasty of Talkad (350 - 999 CE.) and the Hoysala Empire (1000 - 1334 CE). In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Vijayanagar kings patronised Chennakesava of Belur as their family deity. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Hassan became a land of contention between the Keladi Nayakas of Shimoga and the Mysore Kingdom. It finally merged as an independent Mysore kingdom.
Much of culture of Hassan district in the past is linked with the Hoysala and Ganga dynasty rulers who ruled over this area. Initially the Gangas were Hindus but by the time of king Shivamara II 785 CE., took to Jainism. The Hoysalas were Jains too and the mythical founder of the empire sala was said to be blessed by the Jain sage Sudatta Muni. Some of the successive rulers were also Jains until Ramanujacharya came to Hassan to escape persecution from the Cholas in early 12th century. During this time Vishnuvardhana was influenced by Ramanujacharya and accepted Hinduism, though his wife Shantaladevi continued to follow Jainism, setting an example of religious tolerance. In fact the Channigraya temple in Belur was commissioned by her during the time the nearby famous Chennakeshava temple was being built. This tolerance is alive even today and can be seen in the importance given by the district administration and people in general to Jain religious events like Mahamastakabhisheka, long after Jainism has ceased to be the main religious practice of this region. While Most of the Hoysala monuments in Hassan are Hindu, and date between the 11th c. - 13th c. CE, the monuments of Shravanabelagola are a colossal effort of the Jain Ganga dynasty who ruled from about 350 - 999 CE. and is one of the most important Jain pilgrimage sites for in India.
Today, Hassan is a largely agrarian community with a charm that is essentially similar to that of Mysore District, except the palaces and colonial buildings of Mysore are replaced with exquisite vesara monuments built by the Hoysalas. One does not have to travel more than a few kilometers to visit the next monument on the list.
Its cuisine is a mix of Mysore, Kodagu and Dakshina Kannada districts resulting in tasty specialities like midigayi pickle (small raw mango), sandige, avalakki (beaten rice), Kadabu (different types of Kadabu's are prepared from rice and cereals) and talipittu (akki rotti made of rice flour). About 5% of the total population are Muslims. A community of Hebbar Iyengars an ancient Brahmin community who settled in this area for more than a thousand years. An inscription in Shantigrama indicates that the founder was a Brahmin from Kashi. Hassan Iyengars, a different Brahmin community are well known all over south Karnataka for their tasty condiment preparations like cakes, puffs, biscuits and breads etc. Iyengar bakeries are a common feature in most towns and cities of Karnataka. Hassan is also called as Poor man's Ooty. Its Bisle ghat area has the same scenic beauty of the Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu without the rapid and extensive commercialization. Hassan is a place where Kannada literature finds famous personalities like Gorur Ramaswamy Iyengar.
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