Belur was the early capital of the Hoysala Empire. With Halebidu which is only 16 km away, this is one of the major tourist destinations in Karnataka, India. Belur is located in Hassan district.Belur is considered as the Banaras of South and is thus also known as Dakshina Varnasi.The historic town Belur, one of the monuments of Karnataka, is beautifully set on banks of Yagachi river.
The main entrance to the Chennakesava temple complex is crowned by an ornate gopuram or tower, built in the Vijayanagara style. Within the complex, the main temple of Chennakesava lies in the centre, facing east, flanked on its right by the Kappe Chennigaraya temple, and a small Lakshmi shrine. Set back on its left is an Andal or Ammanavara temple. There are two graceful Garuda sthambhas, or pillars, in the main courtyard. The sthambha facing the main temple was built in the Vijayanagara period, and the one to the right of the temple was built by the Hoysalas.
On the smooth circular platform in front of the shrine, stands the sculpture of the beautiful Shantala Devi, queen of King Vishnuvardhana. The jewellery is hollow and movable. The delicacy and attention to the tiniest details here are incredible. Each feature, bangle, strand of hair is carved with care.
The Chenna Kesava has a star shaped structural plan set on an elevated platform, in the center of spacious paved courtyard surrounded by subsidiary shrines and colonnades. The towering vimanam above the sanctum was built by brick and mortar, supported by word work and covered with copper plates, gilded with gold. The crumbling Vimanam had to be dismantled in 1879 to protect the main sanctum.
Darpana Sundari (Lady with the mirror) carved on walls of Belur temple is one of the major attractions. A number of bracket figures, portraying celestial nymphs or Madanikas singing and dancing, are sculpted on the walls of this temple. All these nimble figures are said to have been inspired by the sublime beauty of Shantala Devi, Queen of King Vishnuvardhana.
Most people stay in close by Hassan, which serves as the gateway to the temple circuit. Hassan has a decent range of hotels and restaurants, both high-end and budget. Belur has a couple of accommodation options – not luxury but mid-range places and a couple of resorts are now opening up here. Halebid has only the one state-tourism hotel, which is rather basic. Comfortable walking shoes, cotton clothing and sunscreen are a must. Don”t forget your camera!
Belur and Halebid have restaurants which offer basic South Indian and North Indian fare. Continental food is hard to come by except in some of the restaurants in the larger hotels and resorts. Typically, most restaurants in the area offer vegetarian fare. March is the month for the Hoysala Mahotsava, a dance festival held in the temples of Belur and Helebid.
A number of languages are spoken around here that reflects the cultural diversity of Karnataka. Kannada is the official state language but English and Hindi are also widely spoken, so communication shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Temple Timings :7.30 a.m to 8 p.m
Inner sanctum of main Deity closed from 10 to11 a.m, 1 to 3 p.m, 5 to 6.15p.m
Guide fee Rs 125 to 250 (Many Government appointed Tour Guides are available to show around the temple)
Rail: Nearest Railway Station is Hassan (37 Km) which is connected to Bangalore, Mangalore and Mysore.