Belur Today's Belur is a small town in Hassan District. It was the Capital of a powerful Empire of Hoysala Kings. Hoysalas were initially under the control of Chalukyas only to build their own kingdom after the fall of Chalukyas. Among Hoysala Kings, Vishnuvardhana was the most well known and was the one who got rid of the Chalukya control. It is said that King Vishnuvardhana built the main temple of Channakeshava. Thousands of visitors from all parts of the globe come to see the magnificent architecture of the temple. Students of Art Colleges never miss to see this marvelous piece of work. Many come here and stay for weeks and months together to go through details and beauty of the sculpture. The innumerable variety of ornaments, the doorways, the ceilings, the birds, the animals, dancers and other figures are fully decorated as if they are full of life and vigour with variety of actions and movements.
From inscription it is learnt that Vishnuvardhana got the temple built in memory of his victory in Talkad against Cholas and other sources declare that Vishnuvardhana got built this temple as a sign of him having adopted Vaishnavism as advised by the Great Guru Sri Ramanujacharya. If a detailed study of the structure is taken, one may know the star-shaped Garbhagruha, Sukanasi and the Navaranga - the inside pillars, the outside work might have been done during the reign of Vishnuvardhana. The large niches, friezes and sculptures on the outside and also the beautifully designed inside pillars and ceilings including three doorways were carved during his time.
The Garbhagruha was surmounted by a high star-shaped tower of brick and mortar supported by woodwork and plated with gold gilded copper sheets. Standing on a high platform on the top of a raised ground, the structure has a commanding look. The beautiful image of Keshava called as Vijaya Narayana was installed in the sanctum in 1117 AD. At about the same time, Vishnuvardhana's senior Queen Shantaladevi though inclined to Jainism did not fail to take part in the Vaishnava temple work. She got the Channigaraya temple built similar in form to the main temple, though less elaborated and less decorated. The figure of Channigaraya installed by her is about the same that of Keshava in the main temple, but smaller in size. It bears the inscription of Vijayanarasimha the First, illustrious son and successor of Vishnuvardhana who made grants for the maintenance of the temple and for regular poojas. The remaining of the Durbar scene to the north of Navaranga doorway shows that some improvements might have been made at a later point of time.
This complex comprises of the Chennakesava Temple (dedicated to Lord Chennakeshava) as the centre piece, surrounded by the Kappe Chnnegraya temple, and two more shrines. The Chennakesava Temple, one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture, was built by King Vishnuvardhana in 1114 AD.
Narasimha Pillar : This pillar, which once revolved on its ball bearings, has a small space left on it to be sculpted by anyone who has the skill. However, it is untouched till date.
Madanikas : There are four well-known bracket figures on the ornate ceiling that are inspired by Shantala Devi's well-endowed beauty. On the walls, there are 38 bracket figures of attractive, meditative, mischievous and romantic women.
Shantala Devi : The beautiful sculpture of Shantala Devi, Queen of King Vishnuvardhana, is placed on the circular platform in front of the shrine. It is unique for its hollow and movable jewelry.
Town Area Size: 2.85 sq kms
Altitude:: 975 meters
Summer: 20-35 C. Hottest Month: April
Winter: 25-28 C. Coolest Month: December
Rainfall: 110 cms
Clothing: Cotton clothes throughout the year except December.
Belur in Hassan district (222 kms from Bangalore and 38 kms from Hassan) is famous for its magnificent Hoysala Temple Complex. The Chennakeshava temple here was completed in 1116 by Hoysala Vishnuvardhana to commemorate his victory over the Chola. It took 103 years to complete. The facade of the temple is filled with intricate sculptures and freizes-with no portion left blank. Elephants, episodes from the epics, sensous dancers nothing was left uncarved. The Veeranarayana temple houses the shrines of Kappe Chenniga, Andal, Saumya Nayaki, and other dieties.
Bangalore airport is the nearest to Belur (222 kms)
Hassan is just 40 kms from Belur. Banavara and Arasikere are also near Belur.
Regular buses ply from Bangalore (222 kms),
Halebid (16 kms),
Hassan (40 kms),
Hospet (330 kms),
Mangalore (124 kms),
Mysore (149 kms) to Belur.