- Use only public transport, unless options evade.
- Dawn to dusk – be on the move.
I hired the service of a guide Mr. Narayana. Guides are a must to help us trigger the exploratory path in monuments of such grandeur. Guides use reflective glass (of sun rays) as pointers to help us see the minute of aspects in each of the sculptors. Other object used is thread to demonstrate the minutest of points.
|Gopura - Chennakesava Temple|
The Hoysala temples are characterized by typical star shaped ground plan which gives them high surface area with an elevated platform for elaborate carvings. Star shaped base has 32 angles and stands on a wide elevated platform which raises 3 feet abive the ground level. It is 178 feet long (east-west side) and 156 feet broad (north-south). The Shikhara surmounting atop the sanctum came down and is no more present.
- Garbhagriha (Sanctum)
- Sukhanasa (Vestibule)
- Navaranga (Central hall)
|Sala fighting the Leogryph|
Over head decoration at the entrance of sanctum depicts fireceful lord Narsimha and the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
King Vishnuvardhana, queen and their guru Ramanujacharya are depicted.
|Elephant in different moods, every one is unique - 644 of them.|
|Base row of friezes|
- Elephant symbolizes stablity and strength.
- Next band has lion heads which symbolizes courage.
- Third row has horsemen symbolizing speed.
The outer walls of the temple complex are classified into the Social section (Walls with Mandnikas) and the Spiritual section. Every inch of the shrine is filled with intricate carvings pieces put together similar to Lego sets. Basically the whole temple complex is put together through press fit construction which could be dis-assembled any point in time.
Walls with Madanikas
|Madanika #1 - Darpana Sundari|
|Madanika #12 - Bhashmasur Mardini-Mohini dance.|
|Thribangi Ntritya Madanika #8|
|Vishnu and Lakshmi|
Ravana Anugraha Murti
|Kali slaying the demon|
|Favorite god of Hoysalas - Narasimha|
|Shiva dances in triumph on the decapitated head of the elephant |
demon Nila, while stretching the elephant's skin over his head like
|Arjuna aiming the fish eye|
|Prototype temple which was built and took 20 years to build before the actual temple complex|
The temple of Belur known for its internal beauty has lot to showcase like the ornate carved panels, pillars, ceilings, doorways etc. In the current form, there is hardly any natural light that is able to sneak into its interiors. Over the year additions of curtain walls to the navaranga mandapa by successive rulers resulted in this state. ASI has made provisions for sodium vapour lamp for visitors to enjoy the beauty of intricate sculptures.
The navaranga hall has 48 pillars of which central 4 are hand chiseled and the remaining are turned on monster lathes. The central four pillars have the beautiful work of Madanikas on them.
The main shrine enshrines the beautiful 6 feet image of Chenna Kesava - meaning beautiful Kesava. The deity also goes by the name Vijayanarayana.
The door-keepers (Dvarapalakas) are elegantly executed on the Sukhanasi (vestibule) doorway.
|Dwarapalaka - So ornate (LHS)|
Another masterpiece in the hall is the Narasimha pillar which used to rotate on its on own axis. As roof came doown, it stands locked today by its weight. It is decorated by minute reliefs and miniature shrines. Put together, it has about 108 deities.
A small blank space is wantedly left by the sculptor to challenge any one who could fill in if he can, a befitting work to the class of pillars reliefs.
|Note the intentional gap left by the sculptor|
|Pillars carved on monster lathes|
|Present day Gold Harams got their inspiration from the yesterworld|
|Bhuvaneswari - the central ceiling is elaborately carved|
|Central hollow pendant is that Narasimha on a lotus bed. Keenly observe the lotus petals with intricate work.|
|Dancing figure of Queen Shantaladevi|
|Beautiful lady in conversation with her parrot|
|Mohini - Female form of Vishnu|
The temple with its exquisite carvings leaves one spell bound and actually multiple visits are required to capture atleast bare minimum of what the King and his band of sculptures wanted to showcase to the world. The sculptures also carry the signatures of the sculptors and there was stiff competiton amongst them to showcase their prowess.
This is my second visit to this temple in a decade and after coming back and reading through the pages about the temple, i still feel to have done a half baked job.
- Belur is located about 42 kilometers/ roughly one hour away by bus from Hassan.
- Frequent KaSRTC buses ply to Belur from Hassan.
- Hassan is 200 Kms from Bangalore and is connected by Bus and Train. Bus would take about 4 hours to cover this section and have high frequency. Trains are very few.
- Hassan has good options for stay and food.
- Belur does not offer good hotels/ restos. Better to take some food packets.
- Location: 500 meters from Belur Bus Station
- Temple Timings: Open every day from 7 am – 6 pm. The sanctum is closed from 10-11 am, 1-3 pm and 5-5.30 pm.
- Entrance fees: Nil
- Photography/Video charges: Nil
- Time required to cover: Roughly 3 hrs
- Guide hired: Mr Narayana 9844464771