Chennakeshava Temple, Belur
Belur, situated on the banks of river Yagachi, 38 km from Hassan, is a world famous tourist destination. Belur was the erstwhile capital of the Hoysalas and referred to as Velapur, Velur and Belahur at different points in history. The town is renowned for its Chennakeshava temple, one of the finest examples of Hoysala workmanship. The temple was consecrated by the famous Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana to mark his victories in 1116 AD against the Cholas and called the Vijaya Narayana.
The Temple Architecture
The Hoysalas used soft soapstone for their structures as they were found suitable for intricate carvings. Enclosed by a Prakara with a Gopurabuilt in the Vijayanagar style, the temple stands on a platform or Jagati and looks like a huge casket. The fine workmanship and skill visible in this masterpiece is truly breathtaking.
The Sculptural Extravaganza
The Chennakesava temple is a fine example of fine quality work of art in stone. There are more than 80 Madanika sculptures in the temple, dancing, hunting, standing under canopies of trees and so on. The 4 Madanika figures (striking elegant dancing poses) on the wonderfully engraved columns of Navaranga are unique creations of Hoysala workmanship. The Garbhagriha is stellar in shape and its zigzag walls make the figures of 24 forms of Vishnu look different at different times of the day due to light. The temple was built by master craftsmen – Dasoja and Chavana, a father and son duo, hailing from Balliganve, a centre of Kalyana Chalukya art in Shimoga district. It is said that Shantaladevi, the accomplished queen of King Vishnuvardhana is the model for one of the sculptures in the Vavaranga – Darpana Sundari. This work of art alone, speaks for the beauty of the magnificient temple. The temples of Kappe Chennigaraya, Soumyanayaki, Andal and other Vaishnava manifestations surround this main temple. Belur also has a samadhi believed to be of Raghavanka, the celebrated Kannada poet of the 13th century.
How to Reach:
Hassan does not have an airport and the nearest airport is Bangalore from where one can take flights to other major destinations in India and abroad.
Hassan is connected by rail to Bangalore, Mysore, Hubli, Shimoga and Mangalore.
It is about 38 Km from Hassan. Regular Bus services and tourist taxies are available from Hassan.