The Holy Land
Belur, situated along the banks of the Yagachi River, is also known as the ‘Banaras of the South’ on account of its numerous temples. The most prominent among them is the Chennakeshwara temple which reflects Hoysala architecture at its very best. Chennakeshwara is none other than Lord Vishnu himself; it means ‘the handsome lord.’ The temple was built by King Vishnuvardhana in memory of his conversion to Vaishnavism from Jainism.
Belur was originally the capital of the Hoysala Empire.
The Chennakeshwara temple actually took no less than 103 years to be completed; the work begun by the grandfather was finally completed by the grandson. Practically every inch of the temple is covered with intricate carvings and sculpted figures. The walls and the ceiling depict dancers in sensuous postures, scenes from Indian mythological stories, etc.
The workmanship of the temples is simply incredible, to say the least; there are actually pillars which are filigreed. On the walls outside are carved 650 elephants, every single one of them different from the other. There are pillars which gleam in the darkness owing to the polish and there are those which can be rotated! The highlight of the temple is the 38 female figures or ‘madanikas’ carved on the ornate ceiling, each in a different sensuous posture. One of the figures depicts a young woman talking to a parrot while another wrings water from her hair. You can actually see the droplets of water carved in black stone. The statue of Garuda stands guarding the temple, at its entrance. The beautiful sculpture of Shantala Devi stands on the platform before the shrine.
At the entrance you can find the well with steps built along its sides called the Pushkarni.
The Veeranarayana temple contains inside it the shrines of Kappe Chenniga, Andal, Saumya Nayaki, etc.
The Belur Math is the other attraction, which lies spread across acres of land. People of all religions and creeds visit the Math, which has been sanctified by some of the illustrious names in the field, including Swami Vivekananda.
Bangalore airport is the nearest airport
There are regular buses to Bangalore, 222 km away, Hassan, 40 km away and Halebid, 16 km away.
The nearest railhead is Hassan, 40 km away.