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Posts Tagged ‘Belur’

Magnificent Belur – Poetry in soapstone

Posted by Admin on May 20, 2012

Magnificent Belur – Poetry in soapstone

Belur, 40 km from Hassan city and 220 km from Bangalore, is in Hassan district of Karnataka state, India. The Chennakeshava temple was built by the Hoysalas under the rule of King Vishnuvardhana in 1117 CE. The deity of this temple is lord Vishnu and the word ‘Chennakeshava’ literally translates to ‘Handsome Vishnu’. Within the temple complex, the Chennakeshava temple is in the centre, facing east, flanked by Kappe Channigaraya temple on its right, and a small Sowmyanayaki temple set slightly back. On its left, set slightly back is the Ranganayaki temple. Two main Sthambhas (pillar) exist here. The pillar facing the main temple, the Garuda sthambha was erected in the Vijayanagara period while the pillar on the right, the Deepasthambha, dates from the Hoysala period.


ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: ANANTH V RAO is an engineer by profession and a hobbyist photographer with a passion for picturing architectural grandeur as well as nature and wildlife. He was born and brought up in Hassan, Karnataka, a place known for its culture and heritage. He lives in Bangalore.

Note from the Admin : – Yet another glorious tribute to the timeless splendour and enchanting beauty of my beloved Motherland.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

The Hoysala emblem at the Chennakeshava temple in Belur depicts the fight between the mythical Sala and a tiger, the emblem of the Cholas. Historians and scholars believe it represents King Vishnuvardhana’s victory over the Cholas at Talakad.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

The main entrance to the complex is crowned by a Rajagopura built during the days of Vijayanagara empire. The Rajagopura is a five-storey structure comprising idols of Lord Vishnu in different incarnations, as well as erotic idols.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

A view of the temple with the flag mast in the foreground.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

The Chennakeshava temple is built on a 4.5 feet plinth. The temple, including the plinth, is in the shape of Sri Chakra (star shape), a characteristic feature of Hoysala architecture. Sri Chakra is considered most auspicious in Hindu religion.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

Another view of the temple.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

A pillared corridor inside the temple complex.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

Tourists at the Chennakeshava temple precincts.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

Another view of the temple complex.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

Lord Garuda, the sacred steed of Vishnu, greets devotees at the portals of the temple.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

Note the intricate carving of the sculpture of Garuda, and its harmony with the temple in the background.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

The main temple consists of three bottom friezes. The lower frieze depicts charging elephants, which symbolize strength and stability. The middle frieze depicts lions, which symbolize courage and valor. The upper frieze depicts horses, which symbolize speed. No two elephants, lions and horses are alike.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

A priest in the temple precincts. Belur is among the few Hoysala temples where regular worship services are held.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

Darpana Sundari (lady with mirror) is one of the main attractions in the temple. The intricate carvings include the mirror frame, the tendrils around the lady, and her jewelry. A maid on her right is feeding grapes to a pet monkey.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

Shukhabhashini depicts a woman in conversation with a parrot.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

The scene is called Gajasura Samhara.Lord Shiva, in one of his furious forms- Gajasura Mardana, is dancing on the head of Gajasura, the elephant demon, and ripping off his skin. Observe the ripped skin above Shiva’s head.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

In Hindu mythology, Bhasmasura was an asura or demon who was granted the power that anyone whose head he touched with his hand should burn up and immediately turn into ashes (bhasma). The asura was tricked by the god Vishnu’s only female avatar, the enchantress Mohini to turn himself into ashes. The specialty of this sculpture is that a drop of water from the tip of her right hand would fall on the left breast, then on the tip of the left hand and then on the thumb of the left leg. Such was the brilliance of Hoysala architecture.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

Here, a monkey is teasing the lady by pulling her sari. The lady is trying to shoo the monkey off by holding a tendril in her hand.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

Tribhangi pose is considered to be humanly impossible in Indian dance forms. Tribhangi consists of three bends in the body; at the neck, waist and knee. The body is oppositely curved at waist and neck which gives it a gentle “S” shape.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

The Hoysalas carved the sculptures incorporating the finest of details. In this photo, one can see the care taken and effort put to carve the fingernails to perfection. Their talent for detail and ability to match imagination to sculpture were matchless.

Belur Chennakeshava Temple

This is a scene from the Mahabharata. Here, Arjuna is piercing the eye of a rotating fish with his bow and arrow by looking at the reflection of the fish in a bowl of oil. He does so to win the hand of Draupadi. Some people say that the bow in this sculpture, which has been destroyed now, would twang when struck.


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Five Hoysala temples off the tourist map

Posted by Admin on January 23, 2012

Belur, Halebeedu and Somnathpur might be big hits among tourists but the Hoysala dynasty was known to have built over 1,500 shrines, of which only 400 have been discovered. Lakshmi Sharath recommends five lesser-known but no-less splendid Hoysala temples that are off the radar of most tourists

By Lakshmi Sharath | Yahoo Lifestyle Entertainment – Tue, Jan 17, 2012 1:30 PM IST

The Hoysala temple at Hulikere

“Hoy Sala ” (Strike Sala!) said guru Sudatta Muni to his student Sala, who was in armed combat with a tiger. The beast had just attacked the duo, who were immersed in rituals at a Durga or Vasantha Parameshwari temple in the village of Sasakapura or Sosevur. The student struck the animal in one blow, immortalizing himself and his victim. Pleased, the guru instructed Sala to establish a kingdom. Thus was born the Hoysala dynasty, with Sosevur as the capital.

We are a country that loves stories. There are tales for everything from deities to devils, from demi-gods to mortals. You will often hear this story told and retold if you are in Malenadu in Karnataka. Almost every Hoysala temple has this tale carved in stone, making it a royal emblem.

The dynasty that ruled Karnataka for over 400 years is known more for its temples than its battles. It is believed that they built over 1,500 shrines, of which more than 400 have been discovered today. Of these only three have made it to the tourist map – Belur, Halebeedu and Somnathpur. My journeys have taken me to barely 30 of them, of which I would now recommend about five.


When a dynasty owes its origins to a myth, one has to see the place where the story was set. It is believed that Sala’s Sosevur is Angadi, a small hamlet in Chikmagalur district of Karnataka. Deep inside coffee plantations lies the temple of the Goddess, along with the ruins of more temples and Jain basadis. The priest will narrate the story and show you the temple where Sala killed the tiger. Although historians dismiss the myth, they do believe that the basadis here are the earliest of the monuments built by the Hoysalas. Small mud roads take you uphill into dense coffee plantations. As you follow the roads, you reach a rugged path that takes you to the basadis. Another path leads you to the three temples, which were completely in ruins when I chanced upon them. They are the Chennakesava, Patalarudreshwara and Mallikarjuna temples. Surrounding you are verdant plantations and all that you can hear is the chirping of birds, with hardly a soul around.


On the route to Belur from Hassan lies a small green board that says “Doddagaddavalli”. Follow the arrow and drive through the detour and you will see lush fields and coconut trees all along the way. As the eyes get blinded by the greenery, you see the first glimpse of this beautiful 12th century temple, built by a merchant, with a lake in the background and fields all around it. A quaint hamlet with a handful of houses interrupts you, as you finally land right on the doorstep of the temple. It is a Lakshmi temple with shrines dedicated to Kali, Shiva and Vishnu and the only Hoysala temple with four towers or vimanas. A serene lake completes this picture-perfect monument as you look up to see the Hoysala crest basking in the sun.


Hulikere is not a temple but the only Kalyani or step-well that I have seen in the Hoysala monuments. Located barely a few kilometers from the Hoysaleshwar temple in Halebeedu, the step-well has several shrines alongside it. The Pushpagiri hill looks down on this small dusty hamlet and Hulikere often becomes the playground for the village kids who head here to play “This is Queen Shantala Devi ‘s private pond,” says the watchman, adding that it is called Hulikere because the security arranged by the king for his queen was so secure that even a tiger could not walk around it. So much for names and myths!


Three brothers competed with each other to build the most beautiful Hoysala temple right here in Koravangala, near Hassan. But all that we saw was a 12th century Dwikuta or a temple with two vimanas or towers dedicated to Shiva called Bucheswara. It was built by a wealthy officer Buchi after he won the war against the Cholas, although he lost his sons in the battle. The inscriptions here say that Buchi vied with his brothers Govinda and Naka, whose temples lie absolutely in ruins beside a dry lake bed.


Twin temples dedicated to Keshava and Siddeshwara lie in a quiet remote village called Marle in Chikmagalur district. The village spoke of tribal chieftain Poysala Muruga, one of the earliest founders of the dynasty. Yet, today, you barely see a soul around you as you walk along dry fields and patches of land to see the temples virtually lost to the sky and earth. The two lie side by side, adorned with some flowers left by a priest from the neighbourhood.

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