Belur is a famous temple town in Hassan District of Karnataka state, India. The most famous temple here is the Chennakesava Temple. Belur is known as Dakshina Varanasi, which means Varanasi of the South.
Belur Chennakesava Temple. Photo Source: Creative Commons
Belur city is situated on the banks of the Yagachi River. Hoysala architectural-style temple complex is the leading tourist site here. Chennakesava Temple was earlier known as Vijayanarayan Temple.
Chennakesava temple is the best example of Hoysala workmanship, constructed using soft soapstone. The kings of the Vijayanagar empire later added the Dravidian style “Gopuram” (dome). Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu and the Kesava Temple at Somanathapura are other renowned Hoysala architectural-style temples.
Belur was the capital of the Hoysala Dynasty. Consecrated in the year 1116 A.D. by the then emperor Vishnuvardhana of the Hoysala Dynasty to commemorate his victory over the Chola Kings, Chennakesava temple construction took 103 years and was completed by Veera Ballala II, grandson of Vishnuvardhana. Another version is that these temples were constructed to commemorate Vishnuvardhana‘s conversion from Jainism to Vaishnavism.
Lord Chennakeshava (Lord Vishnu) is the main deity here.
Darpana Sundari, i.e., Carved ‘Lady with the mirror’, is one of the major attractions in Chennakesava temple. ‘Lady with the Parrot’ is another excellent carving. There are many other carvings, including scenes from the Hindu epics, dance scenes, and animals like elephants (650 elephants in total; each one is different!), horses, lions, etc. There are 42 Madanikas (dancing women’s sculptures), all in different postures! This is just the tip of the iceberg. Belur Chennakesava Temple is one of the best temples known for its carvings. You need to see the Chennakesava Temple and appreciate its beauty.
How Do I Go to Belur Chennakesava Temple?
Hassan town is around 35 kilometers distance from Belur temple. The nearest railway station is also at Hassan, and the railway station code for Hassan is HAS.
National Highway 48 (Mangalore to Bangalore) passes through Hassan.
Belur is around 220 kilometers from the state capital, Bengaluru (Bangalore), which has the nearest airport.