Belur is a Town Municipal Council and taluka in Hassan district in the state of Karnataka, India. The town is renowned for its Chennakesava temple, one of the finest examples of Hoysala workmanship. It is situated at an altitude of 975m above sea level, about 22km from Bengalooru and 40km from Hassan, on the banks of the river yagachi.
Belur is sanctified by the ancient temple dedicated to ‘Lord Chennakesava’ one of the various forms of Lord Vishnu, built by the Hoysala king Bittiga or Vishnuvardhan in the year 1116 AD. It was built to celebrate his victory over the Cholas in the battle of Talikad. The architecture, typical of the Hoysalas, and the sculpture are spellbinding. Intricate carvings adorn the walls of the sanctorum. There are three entrances to the temple, on the east, north and south. There are reliefs of various deities, human forms, demons, etc at the entrances. The figures also depict events from the great epic ‘The Mahabharatha’. There are also images of Dasavathara or the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu, in the Temple.
The excellence of architecture is evident from the grand statues of ’Mandanikas’ and the 38 sturdy pillars which support them. This exquisite piece of architecture has fascinated many a keen observer over the years. Each mandanika can be seen in a unique elegant posture such as dancing, playing, dressing etc. It leaves one cueless when one attempts to fathom out the quantum of meticulous work that should have gone into their making. There are about 46 exquisitely carved pillars. There is a host of other features which make the structure awe-inspiring.
Hoyasalas – “Hoy Sala” meaning “Strike Sala”. Guru Sudatta Muni said to his student, Sala who was in combat with a tiger. The duos were performing rituals at the Vasantha Parameshwari Temple in a village called Sasakapura or Sosevur. The tiger attacked them, Sala struck the animal with one blow, and both were immortal. Sala became the first ruler and founder of the Hoysala dynasty. This incident was so patronized and it became the emblem of the Hoysala. The Cholas were defeated by the Holsalas. Sosevur became the capital of the Hoysala is presently Angadi, a small hamlet of Chikmagalur. The temple of Vasantha Parameshwari lies in ruins. Journery of the Hoysalas begins1000 years ago, they were not born rulers and still they went onto rule for 300 years. They were tribal chiefs who subordinates of the Westeren Chalukyas. Studies show that they were descendants of Yadava clan, some indicates that they were from Male (hills) natives of Malnad. Arekalla, (in 950), Maruga and Nripa Kama I(in 976) are some of the kings from Hoysala. Ones who really shaped the history are King Vishnuvardhan and Veera Bhallalla.
King Vishnuvardhan, is famous for his patronage to arts along with their exploits on the battlefield. The famous Belur and Halebid Temples were built by him. During his reign a baffling 1500 temples were built in 958 locations out of which only 100 survive today. Vishnuvardhan was also known as “Bittideva”. He was a Jain who became a Hindu following the preaching of Ramanuja. His queen Shantaladevi continued to patronize Jainism. The Chennakesava temple is important among the temples of Belur.
One can find the inscriptions in the ruins of Angadi. The temple is being restored amidst verdant green plantations. The Archeological Survey of Indian has taken up the restoration of the broken pillars, strewn inscriptions and defigured idols. However there are several temples tucked away in small hamlets, some of them are Kedareshwara, Dodgaddavalli, Marle, Mosale, Nugehalli, Hosaholalu, Somnathpur, Talakadu, Arasikere, Tarikere, Belavadi, Javagal. Along with the temples are the Basadis. In Tumkur district, Kaidala is the birthplace of the sculptor Jakanacharya who built the temple in Bellur.
The other ancient monuments here are the wonderful temples dedicated to Lord Ganesa, the principal deity of all Hindu endeavours, Goddess Durga, the Goddess of valour, Goddess Saraswathi, the Goddess of Arts and Learning, Lord lakshmi Narayana, Lord Vishnu, the protector of the universe with His consort Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth. Besides, there are a number of other temples as well.
Belur was the flourishing capital of the Hoysala Kings about 800 years ago. It can be reached from Bengalooru, Mysooru or Hassan. Accommodations are available. Contact: Manager (0r) Tourist Officer, Karnataka Tourism, Hassan.