The twin temple towns of Belur and Halebeedu in Hassan are world famous for their unique Hoysala style of temple architecture. The temples at both these places are built by renowned architect Jakkanna Acharya (Amarashilpi Jakanaacharya). The temples are carved with scripts of Hindu mythology. The 12th century temple at Belur has many figures known as Madanikas or dancers. It has many pillars of different designs. Later the capital was shifted to Dwarasamudram (Halebid). Belur is a small town located on the banks of River Yagachi, in Hassan district of Karnataka. Belur was the early capital of the Hoysala Empire. Belur is considered as the Banaras of South and is thus also known as Dakshina Varnasi. The main attraction in Belur is the Chennakeshava temple complex dedicated to Lord ‘Chennakeshava’ (handsome Vishnu) temple. It was built by King Vishnuvardhana of Hoysala Dynasty in the Dravidian Style.Hoysalas ruled the Deccan and the parts of present day Tamilnadu, between 11th and 13th Centuries. The Hoysala dynasty is said to have been named after the words ‘Hoy Sala’-Hoy means ‘Strike’, Sala is the name of a legendary leader called ‘Sala’. Sala is said to have killed a lion which was ready to pounce on a meditating Guru Sudatta Muni who in turn blessed him by giving him the power to rule.
The main entrance to the Chennakesava temple complex is crowned by an ornate gopuram or tower, built in the Vijayanagara style. Within the complex, the main temple of Chennakesava lies in the centre, facing east, flanked on its right by the Kappe Chennigaraya temple, and a small Lakshmi shrine. Set back on its left is an Andal or Ammanavara temple. There are two graceful Garuda pillars, in the main courtyard. The pillers facing the main temple was built in the Vijayanagara period, and the one to the right of the temple was built by the Hoysalas. Legend has it that it took 103 years to complete and Vishnuvardhana's grandson Veera Ballala II completed the task. The facade of the temple is filled with intricate sculptures and friezes with no portion left blank. The intricate workmanship includes elephants, lions, horses, episodes from the Indian mythological epics, and sensuous dancers (Shilabalikas). Inside the temple are a number of ornate pillars.
King Vishnuvardhana is supposed to have dreamt about Lord Chennakesava while on a night stay in Baba Budan Forest decided to construct the temple at Belur. By doing so he unwitting separated the Lord from his consort living in the forest of Baba Budan. It’s believed that the lord visits his consort daily, therefore the local cobbler community presents s fresh pair of sandals daily and it disappears by night after being presented to the lord.
PLACES NEAR BY:
You can go to Coorg . Coorg is a tourist attraction, known for its coffee and its ethnic warrior people. The dominant group are its indigenous ethnic group the Kodavas, who were freeholder farmers and militiamen in the ancient past. The chief languages presently spoken in Kodagu are Kannada, Kodava.
You can go north and to Chikmagalur (27 Km) (3000-3500 ft ASL) - Coffee plantations and forests combine to give a feel different from Coorg.
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The nearest international airport is Mangalore (168 Km)
Bangalore International Airport (232 Km).
Hassan(about 32 km from Belur) Banavara and Arasikere are also near Belur.
Regular buses ply from Bangalore(222 km), Halebid (16 km),Chikmagalur(22 km) Hassan (32 km), Hospet (330 km), Mangalore (124 km), Mysore (149 km) to Belur.