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Chennakesava Temple at Belur

The Chennakesava Temple of Belur is a 12th century Hindu Temple in the Hassan district of Karnataka. Built over by three generations, the temple took 102 years to finish. It was constantly damaged and plundered during wars, repeatedly rebuilt and repaired over its history. Chennakesava is a form of the Hindu God Vishnu, and the temple is dedicated to Vishnu. The temple has been an active Hindu temple since its founding. The temple is renowned for its remarkable architecture, sculptures, reliefs as well as its inscriptions and history. The temple artwork depicts scenes of secular life in the 12th century, dancers and musicians, as well as a pictorial narration of Hindu texts such as the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas through various friezes.

History of Chennakesava Temple
The Chennakeshava Temple was the major attraction of the Hoysala Kingdom and is believed to be closely related to the military achievements of the King Vishnuvardhana. The king fought wars with the Western Chalukyas and had also defeated the Cholas. The land’s best architects and artists were recruited for building the temple. The architects were hired to produce new designs and styles that would be the hallmark of the complex.

Temple Architecture
The Chennakeshava Temple was built of soapstone and features a detailed finish built around a typical Hoysala style blueprint. What distinguishes the temple from other temples of the Hoysala period is the temple’s scale. It is considered to be one of the earliest creations of the dynasty, and stands 37 meters tall. Its outer walls are adorned with finely done artwork, with dancing girls in various postures.

The temple pillars exhibit some of the best details and finishing sculpture and art work. One of the most popular pillars of the temple is the Narasimha Pillar. Boasting a total of 48 pillars, all uniquely carved, the four central pillars were hand carved by artisans and features madanikas or celestial damsels. Visitors who are keen to study the details of the wall sculptures at the Temple will find many references and depictions of important events from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.

How to reach
By Air – The Mangalore Airport is around 130 kilometres from Belur, while Bangalore International Airport is around 222 kilometres away. From the airports, the most ideal choice of travel is by road.
By Rail – The nearest railway station to the town of Belur is in Chikmagalur, which is 22 kilometres away. Hassan railway station is around 32 kilometres away from Belur town.
By Road – Bangalore city is 220 kilometres away from Belur via the NH75. If one is travelling from Mysore, the journey is 155 kilometres long via the SH 57. There are regular buses that ply to Belur from Hassan, Chikmagalur, Bangalore, Mysore and Mangalore.

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