Hoysala Aerobics: Move Like a Madanika

Celebrating the induction of the Hoysala sites into the UNESCO World Heritage list

Temple 343934 1920

When we were examining the dance and music sculptures at Belur temple, we observed that none of the poses were static, and most of them were arrested motion’. We decided to explore this further with a group of trained dancers at Azim Premji University.

Hoysala temples in Belur, Halebid, and Somanathapur in Karnataka became India’s 42nd UNESCO World Heritage Site on 18 September 2023.

This video documents a creative project by students at Azim Premji University to celebrate the induction of Hoysala sites into the UNESCO World Heritage list. Drawing inspiration from the renowned dancing madanika bracket-figures of the Belur Chennakeshava temple, the students reinterpret a selection of the most dynamic poses as a choreographed set of aerobics moves. 

It started with imitating the sculptures, culture, women, and out-of-world body proportions. It was nice to bring in dance to fit in all body types.


Move Like a Madanika incorporates historical research and embodied aesthetics in an enjoyable movement sequence for experts and novices alike.

The dancers move to the mesmerising Urimiadi by Periyannan Parties (2004). Thanks to heritage photographer Thomas Alexander and artist Santosh Reddy for their original photographs used in the video.

Image by Bishnu Sarangi from Pixabay