the sculptor's excellence
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KSRTC Bus Fare: Rs.13/- (From Hassan)
Route: Hassan - Mudigere route.
Belur is a small town in Hassan District. It was the Capital of
a powerful Empire of Hoysala
Kings. Hoysalas were initially under the control
of Chalukyas only to build their own kingdom after the
fall of Chalukyas. Among Hoysala Kings, Vishnuvardhana was
the most well known and was the one who got rid of the
Chalukya control. It is said that King Vishnuvardhana
built the main temple of Channakeshava. Thousands
of visitors from all parts of the globe come to see the magnificent architecture of the
temple. Students of Art Colleges never miss to see this
marvelous piece of work. Many come here and stay for
weeks and months together to go through details and beauty of the sculpture. The innumerable variety
of ornaments, the doorways, the ceilings, the birds,
the animals, dancers and other figures are fully decorated
as if they are full of life and vigour with variety of actions
inscription it is learnt that Vishnuvardhana got the temple
built in memory of his victory in Talkad against Cholas
and other sources declare that Vishnuvardhana got built
this temple as a sign of him having adopted Vaishnavism
as advised by the Great Guru Sri Ramanujacharya.
If a detailed study of the structure is taken, one may know
the star-shaped Garbhagruha, Sukanasi
and the Navaranga - the inside pillars, the outside
work might have been done during
the reign of Vishnuvardhana. The large niches, friezes and
sculptures on the outside and also the beautifully designed
inside pillars and ceilings including three doorways were
carved during his time.
The Garbhagruha was surmounted by a high star-shaped
tower of brick and mortar supported by woodwork and plated
with gold gilded copper sheets. Standing on a high platform
on the top of a raised ground, the structure has a commanding
look. The beautiful image of Keshava called as Vijaya
Narayana was installed in the sanctum in 1117 AD. At
about the same time, Vishnuvardhana's senior Queen Shantaladevi
though inclined to Jainism did not fail to take part in
the Vaishnava temple work. She got the Channigaraya
temple built similar in form to the main temple, though less
elaborated and less decorated. The figure of Channigaraya
installed by her is about the same that of Keshava in the
main temple, but smaller in size. It bears the inscription
of Vijayanarasimha the First, illustrious son and successor of Vishnuvardhana
who made grants for the maintenance of the temple and for
regular poojas. The remaining of the Durbar scene to the
north of Navaranga doorway shows that some improvements
might have been made at a later point of time.
Later, Veera Ballala II built a fine pond called
Thirtha to the north east of the main temple in 1175
A.D. which is covered with perforated
screens and three doors were provided with massive buttoned
doors. Supporting towers were erected on either side of
each doorway while in the interior of the temple; the Navaranga
was separated from the Sukanasi by insertion of beautifully
carved potstone doorway. Further, a shrine with charming sculptures like those at Kedareshwara
Temple at Halebid was built in the premises of the
temple for the God Veera Narayana.
In the days of Veera Ballala II, one of his officers Somaya
Danayaka got the central tower rebuilt with brick and
the Tugalaks invaded the Deccan, their officer Ganga Salar
of Kalburgi lead seize to the temple and burnt its gateway.
Shortly afterwards he founded the Bahamani Dynasty. The
Vijayanagar Emperor took much pain and did all that was
required for the temple. In 1397 A.D. Gunda, a General under
Harihara II constructed the seven-storied gopuram in the
place of Mahadwara, which was burnt by Ganga Salar. After
sometime, three important buildings i.e. the Soumyanayaki
Temple, the large Mantap on the West and the Andal Shrine
were put up behind the main temple. It is learnt that materials
from the ruined Hoysala buildings at several places were
good part of Navaranga of Channigaraya Temple was also rebuilt
during Vijayanagar period while a number of minor erections
were done here and there in the compound of the temple like
the Deepasthambha and the Yagashala where the Sacred fire
in the temple is lit. During the 15th Century the materials
of Shiva and Jain Temples were used for the construction
of Naganayaka Mantap right in the front of the main temple.
Tuluva Emperors of Vijayanagar had this deity as their family
God. The Nayaka chiefs of Belur undertook several repairs
and minor constructions. During 1879, the Vimana tower became
so ruined that it had to be removed to save the main temple
from collapsing. Beginning at east doorway
and extending beyond the north and south doorway up to the
outer wall of the Sukanasi, runs a jagati or railed parapet
on which are sculptured in succession from the bottom of
the following horizontal friezes.
2. Cornice with bead work surmounted by Simhalathas.
3. Scroll work with figures in every convolution.
4. Another cornice with bead work.
5. Small figures mostly female in projecting ornamental
niches with intervening figures of Yakshas seated inward.
6. Delicately carved figures, mostly female between
7. Caves with bead work a thick creeper running along
the edge of the upper slope adorned with miniature turrets,
lions and beautifully carved tiny figures.
8. Brief story of Mahabharatha, Ramayana.
important figures commencing from the right of the east
*. The durbar of King Vishnuvardhana who built the temple
in 1117 A. D.
*. The story of Bali, the King of Demons, making gifts to
Vamana, incarnation of Vishnu.
*. Kalingamardhana (Krishna)
*. Vishnu with Hanuman and Garuda.
*. Shiva seated on Nandi.
*. The story of Prahalad (left of the east doorway).
*. The durbar of King Narasimha, the son of Vishnuvardhana.
*. The story of the churning of the milk ocean (Samudramathana).
*. Vishnu flanked as usual by Hanuman and Garuda.
*. Killing of Kamsa by Krishna.
*. A figure of Ranganatha reclining on a beautifully carved
*. Sri Lakshminarayana flanked by choury bearers.
are 42 bracket figures on the corner out of which 38 are
outside of the temple and 4 are inside. Every figure attracts
the visitors on its own merits.
Beauty and mirror (Darpana Sundari):
Lady holding a mirror in her left hand and looking at her
beauty in it.
2) Pet Parrot:
A parrot sitting on the fore palm of her right hand. It
looks like conversation with her pet.
3) Lady holds the folded betel leaves in her left
hand. Her maid on the right side holds colored water in
vessel and the maid in the left is filling it to a syringe.
4) Lady in her make-up:
She holds folded betel leaves in her left hand and writing
to her lover. Her maids on both sides are rendering help.
5) A monkey is pulling the edge of her sari. She
is going to beat it with a twig of a tree made out of the
same stone. You can see the teeth in its wide opened mouth.
6) The huntress:
You can see a bird sitting on the canopy behind; she is
aiming her arrow at the bird.
7) Hair dressing: She is dressing her hair after
the bath. The attendants are holding flowers and toiletry.
8) Thribhangi Nritya:
A lady is dancing stylishly by bending her body into three
portions, one from the waist downward, other from the waist
to the chest and another upwards. This is said to be the
most difficult one, so far no other dancer has been able
9) Drum Dance:
She holds in her left hand a drum and she is playing upon
it with her right hand. You can observe the rope how natural
10) The Flutist:
She is playing on her flute. Her maid on the left side is
sitting to the tune of the flute.
She is singing with time. You can see her teeth in her open
mouth while singing.
12) World bewitching beauty:
Her hands and legs are cut out very nicely. Look at the
canopy above her left shoulder. You can see a jackfruit
and a fly on it. A lizard is planning to catch the fly.
You can see the natural pose of the lizard.
She is a violinist. She is standing holding the instrument
in her left hand. Her maids are arranging for a concert.
14) A curly haired beauty:
She holds a mirror having a handle. She is arranging the
curls on the forehead with her right hand finger.
15) The huntress:
She is plucking a mango with her right hand.
16) A heroic huntress:
She is dressed up as a hunter and aiming at the birds sitting
on the creeper above.
17) Masculine woman:
She is wearing a beard and a moustache like a man and is
playing on her drum.
18) A sham, She Saint:
She is in disguise as a saint. She holds a rod with skull
at the top in her left hand.
commencement of the 19th bracket figure you can see the
In the corner, Shiva is holding a fork like a spear. He is
trampling a demon under his feet.
There are varieties of arms in her hands. You can see a
scorpion and a snake cut on her stomach to show that she
has much venom.
3. Bali-the demon emperor:
Look at the wall. Vamana is begging for three feet of Earth
before Bali. The demon Guru Shukracharya is also seen.
4. Ravana lifting the Kailas mountain:
Ten-headed demon King Ravana is holding up Kailas mountain.
You can see Lord Shiva is sitting with his beloved Parvathi
on the top of the mountain.
The Goddess Chamundi is killing the demon Mahishasura.
The artist shows skill by carving the chain; it is highly
natural and realistic.
7. The Sun God:
The Sun God is coming upon his seven-horsed chariot.
8. 20th Century Lady:
Latest fashion, having dressed herself in fine clothes and
tied her hair in the latest fashions with ribbons. She is
ready to go for evening walk. You can see even a bulldog
9. Arjuna is shooting the fish target:
Arjuna is shooting the fish by looking at the shadow reflected
in a bowl of oil, placed just below the target pillar.
Beginning of the 19th dancing pose:
19. The Arch Dancer:
You can observe the natural and artistic facial expressions
on her face. The maids are playing upon the musical instruments.
20. The Songstress:
The Songstress holds metallic timekeepers in her hands.
21. The Divine Dancer:
She is dancing cheerfully. Her maids are playing upon the
22. The Hunters:
She holds in her left hand a fork like spear with skull
at the top.
23. Successful Huntress:
She is returning from a successful hunting. Look at the
decoration of the bow on her left shoulder. Her maids are
carrying the prey of their hunt. On the right side, one
maid is removing the thorn, which is plucked to other maid's
24. Beauty Dance:
She is practicing her dance. Her maids are helping her by
playing on their instruments.
25. Bhasma Mohini Dance:
The figure illustrates the epic story of God Vishnu who
took the form of Mohini. This figure is carved geometrically.
The right hand, the tip of her nose, the left breast, and
the right thumb is all in a straight line.
26. Beauty and the Scorpion:
The lady after finishing her bath and while dressing she
looks at a scorpion under the folds of her sari. She is
frightened and shakes her sari. The scorpion falls down.
See the natural face of the inscription.
27. A beauty in wall:
She is fully dressed and is waiting for her lover.
28. A Gypsy Girl:
She hold in her left hand palm leaves and holds the right
hand in speaking pose. Look at the styled hair.
29. A Beauty after Hearty Meal:
She is returning from her dinner and is about to retire
for rest. She is holding betel leaves in her left hand.
30. Nagaveena Dance:
The expert musician is playing on her violin, which is in
the form of a snake. The left side of the violin resembles
the head of a snake.
31. Proud Lady:
She is fully dressed and has put on all sorts of ornaments
on her body. She is looking at her beauty in proud through
a mirror. Her maid is thinking that she is the only beautiful
woman in the world.
32. A Fortune Teller:
See this gypsy girl. She holds in her left hand a small
drum and a timekeeper set in her right hand. She is foretelling
the future to the world.
33. A Kite Dancer:
She is dancing imitating the play of flying a kite. Look
at her standing pose. She is standing as if she is pulling
the string of the kite using both her hands. You can see
the ear ornaments like star shape and hairstyle like a peacock.
34. A Beauty with her hair:
She has tied her hair into a fine knot. This is up-to-date
35. A Beauty in perfect make-up:
The lady has put on her best dress and ornaments and is
ready to go for a dance. A small attender is putting on
her the ring. She is holding a creeper in her left hand
36. Drum Dance:
She has a beard and moustache like a man. She looks neither
male nor female. She is dancing holding a drum in her left
37. A Songstress:
She is singing with the help of timekeeper sets. You can
see the open mouth. Her maids are helping her with their
38. An arch dancer:
She is dancing to the tune of the fun of her accomplice
on both her sides. Now you have to enter inside the temple
to see the remaining four brackets along with other carvings
and darshanam of Lord Channakeshava.
39. Beauty with her pet parrot:
A lady holds a creeper in her right hand. A parrot is sitting
on the fore palm of her left hand. She looks as if she is
having a conversation with it. She is having a bangle on
her right hand and can move up and down.
She is dancing. See the canopy behind. She is wearing a
gem just above the middle of the forehead.
41. Gandharva Dance:
She wears on her fore arm, a good number of bangles, which
give an impression of moving to and fro.
42. Kesha Shrungara:
She is wringing her hair to squeeze the water after her
bath. You can see the drops of water collected at the tip
of her hairs.
work inside the temple is even finer in several respects
than that of outside. The image of Sri Keshava or Vijayanarayana
as it is named, is a very handsome figure about 6 ft high
with Prabha standing on a pedestal about 3 ft high. It has
four hands, the upper two holding a Discus, a Conch and
the lower two holding a Lotus and Mace. There are ten incarnation
of Lord Vishnu sculpture on the prabha. The sukanasi doorway
flanked by dwarapalakas is elegantly executed. Its pediment
with a figure of Lakshminarayana in the center shows
pillars all differ from one another in design. Especially
two pillars in the Navaranga deserve special interest. The
well-known Narasimha pillar used to formerly resolve. One
of the figures is a tiny bull, which is known as Kadale
Basava. A small space is left by the artist who carved
this pillar as a challenge to any artist. Another Mohini Pillar is carved proportionately. The ceilings
over the verandas show better work.
Channigaraya is situated to the south of Sri Keshava Temple. The
cells have the figures of Ganapathi, Saraswathi, Lakshminarayana,
Chamundeshwari and Venugopala. The Temple of Soumyanayaki
and Ranganayaki, beloved of Sri Channakeshava, may also
is a Garudagambha and Garuda statue facing
towards Sri Channakeshava.
It is about 42 ft high of single stone and it is standing
on its own weight.
small temples are Ramanujacharya, Krishna, Narasimha, Anjaneya
and Ramachandra. In
the courtyard near the pond there is a pavilion wherein
the statues of Vishnuvardhana and Krishnaraja Wodeyar
How To Get There
KSRTC Bus Fare: Rs.13/-
Route: Hassan- Mudigere route.
Sri Annapoorna Lodge
Temple Road, Belur.
Double Bed Room: Rs.150/-
Conference Hall Capacity: 100 Max.
Conference Hall Charges: Rs.300/-
Department of public works, Belur.
Double Bed Room: Rs.60/-
Sri Vishnu Regency
Main Road, Belur.
Single Bed Room: Rs. 50/-
Double Bed Room: Rs.100/-
Temple Street, Belur.
Dormitory (20 Beds): Rs.35 per head.
Single: Rs.135- Rs.160/-
Double Bed Room: Rs.175- Rs.200/-
of Hassan has more hotels. Click
here to see the list of hotels at Hassan.
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