Chennakesava Temple – Belur
The Chennakesava Temple in belur is one of the remarkable monuments of the hoysala periods. Originally called Vijayanarayana Temple, the monument was built on the banks of the Yagachi river, Belur, by the then Hoysala Empire King Vishnuvardhana. Belur is famous for its marvellous temples which was made during the era of hoysala. What makes the temple different from the other temples is its extraordinary size. The famous Tourist destination halebidu is nearby the temple. The temple complexes have been proposed to be listed under UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Chennakesava temple, the largest in belur, was commissioned by the Hoysala king to celebrate an important military victory in the year 1117 AD. The hoysala king wanted the monument to be extraordinarily built and the architectural style to be unique. Inside the monument its exceptionally large in size and the decorations are lavish. The rulers employed many noted architects and artisans for the temple to be built in the Karnataka Dravida tradition. Around 118 inscriptions have been found from the temple complex about the details of the artists employed, grants made to the temple and renovations made after the final construction etc.
The main entrance to the complex is crowned by a Ragyagopura built during the days of the Vijayanagar empire. The temple consists of an open hall,a shrine and a platform. The hall is an open type, originally it only had a parapet. The platform is an essential part of the over-all design of the monument as it forms an unity and follows the outlines of the shrine and hall. Circumambulation of the shrine is an important form of worship. The Chennakesava temple is within the complex, at the centre, facing towards east, and is flanked by the Kappe Channigraya temple on its right. On its left, There is the Ranganayaki temple. The Two main pillars exist here.
The Chennakesava temple is made with chloritic schist, more commonly known as the soapstone. Both the entrances are flanked by life-size sculptures of door guardians. The temple has depictions of different figures and mythological subjects. The sanctum consists of a square antarala and a square garbhagriha. The stone and copper plate inscriptions reveals more about the artists who worked on it. Artists such as Chikkahampa and Malloja are credited with some of the sculptures in the mantapa.
How to reach :
From Hassan there are numerous KSRTC buses connecting to belur and is well connected. The closest airport is at bengaluru and mysuru. Private buses operate from belur to hassan. Passenger trains will be available from Bangalore, Hubli and Mangalore.