The Hoysala Kingdom occupied the elevated areas of western ghats and some parts of present Tamil Nadu also. It was in existence between 10th and 14th centuries. Its capital was Belur which was later moved to Halebidu. They actually ruled between 1026 CE and 1343 CE. They were subordinates to the western Chalukyas until 1187. They followed Hinduism and Jainism.

Their marvellous temple architecture can be seen even today undamaged in Chennakeshava Temple in Belur, Hoysaleswara Temple Halebidu and Keshava Temple in Somanathapura. All these three have been selected as UNESCO Heritage sites because they demonstrate their builders' superior skill, but also because they narrate the tale of the politics that shaped them.

The Chennakeshava temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, was consecrated around 1117 AD by King Vishnuvardhana, to mark his victories against the Cholas. It is thus also called the Vijaya Narayana temple.

The other Vaishnava shrine, the Keshava temple, was built in Somanathapura in the mid-1200s by Somanatha, a general of Hoysala King Narasimha III.

The Hoysaleswara temple in Halebidu is believed to be the largest Shiva temple built by the Hoysalas, and is dated to the 12th century.

One notable feature of Hoysala architecture is the use of soapstone, a malleable stone that is easy to carve. This is one of the reasons behind the abundance of intricate sculptures one can see on the temple walls. The sculptures include animals, scenes of daily life, as well as depictions from the epics and the Puranas. The jewellery, headgear, clothes, etc. of the detailed sculptures give an idea of the society of the times.

"Hoysala architecture is an amalgamation of three distinctive styles- the mainstream Dravidian architecture as represented in the Pallava and Chola temples; the variant of the Dravida style that emerged in the southern Deccan in the Chalukya and Rashtrakuta temples, which is called the Vesara style; and then the North Indian Nagara style.

Halebidu was raided and sacked by Malik Kafur, a general of Delhi Sultan Alauddin Khalji in the early 1300s.