Chennakesava Temple, originally called “Vijayanarayana Temple” is one of the finest example of architecture brilliance.
Located on the banks of Yagachi river, Chennakesava Temple is one of the major attractions in Belur. The temple is dedicated to the six feet tall handsome Vishnu (Hindu god) or ‘Lord Chennakeshava’ . Constructed in Dravidian style by Hoysala King, Vishnuvardhan. Hoysala – “Hoy Sala” meaning “Stike Sala”. They were not born rulers and still they went onto rule for 300 years.
One of the oldest temple dated 1117 CE that took 103 years to complete and Vishnuvardhana’s grandson Veera Ballala II completed the task.
Hoysalas built the shrines as star-shaped structures unlike cubical or rectangular and elliptical floor plans ,which is also known as the Vesara style of architecture. The temple is built using chloride schist, more commonly known as (soapstone) or potstone.
The moment you step inside the temple you get a feeling of grandiose royal court. A huge courtyard and a stellar-shaped platforms upon which the temples are built with richly-carved friezes depicting historical details and mythological fables.
The facade of the temple is full of intricate sculptures and friezes, with no portion left blank.
The four layer frieze on the facade consists of Elephants (Strength), Lions (Power), Horses (Speed), and Flowers (Beauty). The lowest frieze is that of a series of 650 charging elephants around the walls and are all different from each other.
The intricate workmanship includes tales from the Indian mythological epics, statuette of Shantala Devi who was the queen of King Vishnuvardhan ,sensuous dancers (Shilabalikas),birds, celestial nymphs or Madanikas, Darpana Sundari or “The lady with the mirror”, Bhasma Mohini, numerous ornate pillars and on the entrance of the temple sculpture King Sala slaying the head of a lion ,which marks the royal dynasty’s emblem for thousand years.
The main entrance to the complex is crowned by a Rayagopura. Within the complex, the Chennakesava temple is at the center, facing east, flanked by the Channigraya temple on its right, and a small Sowmyanayaki (form of the goddess Lakshmi) temple set slightly back. On its left, is the Ranganayaki (Andal) temple. There is a small pond with fishes on the right hand side of the entrance.
The temple stands tall and imposing against all the odds and ruins and every nook and corner whispers tales of the glorious past of Hoysala dynasty and artistic brilliance.
HOW TO REACH :
It is 37 km from Hassan city and 219 km from Bangalore.
By Air :
Bangalore airport and Mangalore International Airport are close to Belur. All the major domestic airlines connect Bangalore with other major and minor cities in India.
By Rail :
Nearest railway Station is Hassan (37 Km). There are passenger trains from Hubli, Bangalore and Mangalore.
Note : Perfect place for a day trip from Bangalore, Mangalore, Hubli, Udupi, Chikmagalur or Hassan.
Have you been to Chennakesava temple in Belur or planning to visit this architecture marvel?