The Chennakesava Temple, originally called Vijayanarayana Temple, was built on the banks of the Yagachi River in Belur, by the Hoysala Empire King Vishnuvardhana in 1117 AD. Chennakesava means “handsome Kesava”. Lord Vishnu is worshipped in this temple. These temple complexes have been proposed to be listed under UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
If one is willing to spend enough time at Belur, there is no end to the pleasures one experiences in gazing at the different mythological tales that these time-tested monuments have to narrate. The temples create magic during the early hours of the day, just before sunrise, when a tranquil atmosphere surrounds them. This is the best time to enjoy and understand the poetry of these stone images. The transition from dawn to after sunrise is also something not to be missed. Suddenly the temple brightens up bringing with it the liveliness of the local devotees, who begin to throng in, as part of a daily ritual. A total different mood sets in, that of colour and light.
The ornate gopurams in the Chennakesava temple are attractive. When one enters the temple, one gets a feel of the grandeur of the Hoysalas. The sacrosanct platform of the temple has a golden horse along with the temple chariot. Lord Vishnu’s carrying the Garuda is at the entrance and faces the temple.
The temple structure has exclusive filigree gleams which shine like metal. The sculptures are well proportioned. Soapstone which is light greenish in colour has been used to create the Chennakesava temple. Smaller temples of Ranmaganayaki and Soumyanaki, the beloved of Lord Chennakesava lie within the temple premises. One gets to see temples of Anjaneya and Narasimha from here. The senior queen of King Vishnuvardhana, Shantaladevi who was a dance legend, built the Channigaraya temple.
The exterior of the temple is intricately carved. Mythological stories as well as stories from the Upanishads and Puranas are depicted here. Beadwork carvings can also be found in the temple art and architecture. Every piece of art work has been depicted very carefully and with skilled craftsmanship. The celestial nymphs or Madanikas are the other highlights of the temple’s beautiful art and architecture. The Madanikas are an epitome of the feminine form of Queen Shitladevi. The varied moods of the Madanikas are clearly depicted in the architecture.
The sculptures of Darpana Sundari, The Bhasma Mohini and the Huntress are some of the favourites. The royal dynasty’s emblem is the hallmark of the temple which is the major attraction on entering the temple and this is visible in every Hoysala temples. The chief deity, Kesava and Lord Krishna are worshipped here. The six foot tall, beautiful image of Lord Krishna installed at the sanctum looks marvellous.
The Legends Of Lord Channakeshava:
King Vishnuvardhana is said to have dreamt about Lord Keshava during his night stay at the Baba Budan forest and decided to construct the Channa Keshava temple at Belur. But, he unwittingly separated the lord from his consort living on the baba Budan Hill. It is believed that the lord regularly travels to the hills for meeting his consort. Thus the local cobbler community presents a pair of fresh sandals everyday at the altar of the shrine. Locals believe that the sandals get disappeared after being presented the Lord.
Main Attractions Of The Temple:
Channakesava Temple Complex
Veera Narayana or Lakshmi Narayana Temple
Godess Andal Shrine
The Temple is open on all days from 7.30 am to 8:00 pm. However the Inner sanctum of the main deity remains closed from 10:00 am to 11:00 am, 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, and 5:00 pm to 6:15 pm.
Best Time to Visit:
Belur has a very pleasant climate, it neither has excessively high a temperature in the summer, nor is there biting cold in the winters. The summer season in Belur starts from the month of March and lasts till June, with the maximum temperature being around 390 C. The winter season starts from November and lasts till February and is the best time to visit the city of Belur.
Nearby Places to Visit:
City : Belur
Dist. : Hassan
State : Karnataka
Country : India
PIN : 573115
How to Reach:
The nearest airport is at Bengaluru, about 222 km away. The airport is well connected to Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi and other Indian cities. Taxis can be hired to reach Bengaluru.
Hassan is the nearest railhead. Trains from New Delhi, Mumbai and other cities of Karnataka halt at Hassan railway station.
Belur is well connected to other Karnataka cities like Bengaluru, Mangalore and Mysore. Buses from Bengaluru ply regularly to Belur.
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