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Chennakeshava Temple, Belur - Discover 7 Remarkable Gems

Tourists looking for some undiscovered and unique historical stories will be amazed at the Chennakeshava Temple in Belur.

Quick Glance

  Location- India

  State- Karnataka

  District- Hassan

  Deity- Chennakeshava (Vishnu)

  Visiting hours- 7:30 am to 5:30 pm

  Suggestion- Attend the morning and evening prayer

Chennakeshava Temple Complex

Belur was the first capital of the Hoysala Empire and has one of the oldest and popular temples called the Chennakeshava Temple.  This place was commissioned in 1117 CE by king Vishnuvardhana. One of the astonishing things to know about the construction of this temple is that it took over three generations to build this temple, and a total of 103 years to complete. The back stories of constructing this temple are even more interesting. This temple was frequently damaged due to wars and the remains were rebuilt and repaired again and again multiple times. However, once you visit the temple, you will understand how these statements completely justify the architecture and artistry of this place.

The beautiful Chennakeshava Temple will mesmerize you with the intricate designs and gleaming architecture of the temples. This temple is also known as Keshava, Kesava or Vijayanarayana Temple of Belur among the locals. If you want an insight into the temple before visiting, then you will not be disappointed after knowing about these gems.

1. Mohini and Vishnu Statues

You will be amazed by seeing the beautiful and intricate carvings on Mohini and Vishnu pillar. The Mohini pillar is the amazing statue of the female avatar of the Lord Vishnu, the complex soapstone carvings glow in the dark with all its beauty. The carving of the Vishnu pillar is equally beautiful, and it represents the superior workmanship of the artisans of the Common Era.

2. Miniature Shrines of Kesava Temple

You will find the miniature shrines to be another interesting part of the temple, these shrines were said to be built as a prototype of the actual structure. You will find these miniatures near the entrance and around the temple walls, it extends the beauty of the temple further because of its carved structures. The splendor of the Chennakeshava Temple doesn’t end here; you will see a glimpse of advanced artistry in every nook and corner of this place, which brings us to the Pushkarni inside the temple.

3. Pushkarni

Pushkarni is also known as the stepwell. This place is very close to the main entrance and it is said that the Pushkarni was used for taking bath and other rituals of the temple in the olden days. You will be able to see a perfect elephant carved at the side of the entrance and two shrines at two corners of the stepwell.

4. Madanikas

On regular intervals inside the temple, you will find some beautiful carvings of the dancing Nymphs or Madanikas in the brackets of the wall. The posture of each Nymph is different and they represent some form of dance or musical instrument. There are around 40 such structures perfectly ornamented and carved, some of the most beautiful ones among these structures are the Darpan Sundari( Girl looking into the mirror), and Lady with the parrot and the huntress. Many of these structures are said to be damaged and stolen, but apart from all the odds, these structures reflect pure beauty.

5. The Ceiling of the Temple

The interiors of the temple are a lot different than the outside; it’s comparatively dark but the black carvings still glow due to the minimum reflection of the light. It might be difficult to capture the beauty due to lack of light, but you will still be able to take a fair snap of the carving.

6. The Narasimha Pillar

On entering the temple, you will notice many pillars with brilliant designs, but the Narasimha pillar will stand out from the rest of them due to red vermilion marks. Another interesting fact about the temple is that the entire temple is structured using Soap stones. The carvings inside the temple glow instead of being dark as if they were made of metal.

7. Outer Walls

You will be amazed to see the stone carvings on the walls of the main temple. These stone carvings have the structure of various animals, which represent the scenes from the Hindu scriptures, like Mahabharata, and Ramayana. Another interesting thing about the carvings is that each animal structure represents a symbol. The structure of an elephant represents strength; the lion represents courage, and so on. Again, it’s brilliant to know that there are over 600 elephants carved on the outer rows.

Travel Tips for Chennakeshava Temple  

Knowing just about the interiors and history of the place wouldn’t be enough, if you want to conclude a successful trip to this beautiful temple, take a look at some of the travel tips to the place.

•    If you are planning to take the road, then you will be able to find frequent buses from most of the surrounding cities like Bangalore, Mysore, Hassan, Mangalore to Belur.
•    You can also prefer private cabs and taxis as the road to Belur is in fairly good condition.
•    The time between October and April will be perfect to visit the Chennakeshava Temple.
•    Prefer to cover this place as a day trip from wherever you are in the surrounding cities; because Belur has very few options when it comes to an overnight stay.
•    Bangalore has the closest airport to Belur, and you will be able to cover the journey in around 3-3.5 hours by road.
Keep the travel tips handy; wear a hat to save your face from the sun, carry a water bottle, and enjoy the beauty and artistry of the place.

This place is a complete walk down the history of Hindu Mythology that is carved beautifully on the walls of the Chennakeshava Temple. The temple is popular with few tourists, who love and enjoy history and explore ancient structures. This place is a brilliant example of the artistry of the talented artisans, who carved some of the brilliant and praise-worthy structures. The city is around 222 km (138 mi) away from Bangalore, and when you plan on visiting this city, extend a day or two to visit the Chennakeshava Temple. It will spellbind you with its intricate artistry and historic vibe.

See other famous attractions in Karnataka:

Lal BaghMaharaja’s Palace in Bangalore

Badami Cave Temples