Belur, Belur Tour, Belur in Karnataka


Information about Belur

Beautiful Belur, the quaint little town is set elegantly on the banks of river Yagachi amidst lush surroundings. It was chosen as the capital of the Hoysalas, after the sultans. The Hoysalas ruled this region between 11th and 13th centuries. They were great patrons of art and architecture and built a number of magnificent shrines during their 300 years reign. The temples and monuments at Belur are indeed the best Hoysala creations, showcasing their amazing architecture and sculptures in full glory. Belur was highly revered for its magnificent shrines and came to be known as the ‘modern vaikuntha (heaven) of the earth’. The Hoysala temple are characterized by typical star shaped ground plan and are usually set on a platform. Today, this small town basking in the warmth of its luxurious greenery and glorious past is regarded as ‘one of the jewels’ of South Indian architecture. Its temples have become rich repositories of ancient Hindu Culture and a must visit site on every tourist’s temple itinerary.

Tourist Attractions in Belur

Chenna Keshava Temple
The Magnificent shrine dedicated to Lord Vijayanarayan, one of the twenty four incarnations of Vishnu, was built to commemorate the victory of Hoysalas over the Cholas in the great battle of Talakkad. Some also believe that it was constructed when Vishnuvarhana adopted Vaishnavism under the influence of the great guru Sri Ramanujacharya. Its construction commenced in 1116 A.D., at the instance of king Vishnuvardhana, later on his son and grandson completed the work. According to historical records, it took about 103 years to complete this profusely sculpted masterpiece of Hoysala architecture. The huge temple complex enclosed by high walls has a garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum), a sukhanasi (vestibule), a navaranga mandapa and many smaller shrines, mandapams and other structures. There are two gateways, but only one is crowned by a gopuram, which was built in 1397, by Gunda, a general of Harihara II, after the original Mahadwara was burnt down by Ganga Salar, a officer of Tughalaks during the invasion and seize of the shrine. The star shaped main sanctum is a homogenous architectural unit set on a raised platform in the centre of a spacious paved courtyard surrounded by subsidiary shrines and colonnades. Its towering vimana had to be dismantled in 1879, to protect the main sanctum. The three gateway of the sanctum, facing east, north and south and the bracket figures supporting the eaves of the walls are masterpieces of craftsmanship. Virtually every inch of the shrine is intricately carved. The outer walls are adorned with jagati or railed platform sculpted with horizontal rows of friezes with carvings of elephants, simhalatas or lions and scrolls of small female figures in ornamental niches and intersected here and tehr by larger vertical images. And no two friezes in the complete range are alike. The lower friezes are not so extesively carved as in other Hoysala temples, but the work higher up on the wall is simply outstanding. The lowest of these carved bands has 650 caparisoned elephants in different moods, some charging, some playful and some just peacefully standing. Singularly beautiful are the 38 freestanding bracket figures angled between the upper walls and the over-hanging eaves around the outside of the temple and navranga (pillared hall). The brackets are adorned with voluptuous beauties known as Madanikas in various dancing and ritual postures and depicts an amazing variety sculpted forms. The temples doors are also exquisitely carved with outstandingly beautiful filigree work. The main doorway bears the Hoysala motif and the overhead panel on the main door of the ten forms of lord Vishnu. The makar or crocodile symbol is prominently carved here and can also be seen in other Hoysala structures. The main sanctum enshrines a beautifully ornamented 6 ft. high image of Chenna Keshava, literally meaning the ‘Beautiful’ Keshava in Kannada language. The large navranga mandapam is noted for its polished pillars and ceiling. The carved domed ceiling of the navaranga is a visual feat of exceptional beauty.

Kappe (frog) Chennigarya Temple
This small shrine resembling the main temple lies directly to the south of the main sanctum. It is dedicated to Kappe Chennigaraya and was consecrated by Shantala Devi, the senior queen of king Vishnuvardhana, who herself followed Jainism.

Veera Narayana Temple
The small but beautiful shrine is located to the west of Keshava temple and is dedicated to Veera Narayana or Lakshmi Narayana. Its outer walls are decorated with large images. Other shrines in the complex areof Saumyanayki, Goddess Andal, Ramanujacharya, Krishna, Narasimha, Anjuaneya and Ramachandra.

How to reach Belur

By Air:
The nearest airport for Belur is Mangalore (154 kms.).

By Rail: 
Nearest railhead Hassan (37 kms.), which is connected to Bangalore, Mangalore and Mysore etc

By Road: 
Well connected by road to important cities of Karnataka.

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