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Belur - Insights of Hoysala Architecture

Since ages, Karnataka has been rich in culture, heritage and architecture. To have an insight of this, one must visit Belur. Even after a lapse of ten centuries, the art lovers of the whole world can adore this heritage center recognized by UNESCO.

Highlights :

  • [caption id="attachment_3279" align="alignright" width="300"]belur-chennakeshava-temple-hassan-hoysala-01 Hoysala emblem[/caption]

    Distance from Bengaluru : 250 km

  • Places to explore : Belur Chennakeshava temple

  • Mode of transport : Car

  • Type : Architecture, Sight-seeing

  • Ideal for : Friends & Family

  • Budget : Fuel and Food.

Mode of Transport

Started off an early morning with friends to explore the Hoysala architecture. Belur is just 4 hours drive from Bengaluru ( around 250kms), which can be covered as a leisure weekend trip. The drive through the National highway (NH4) takes you all the way to Hassan (Tumkur road take left after Nelamangala).The closest city to Belur is Hassan. One can stop by to have breakfast.


When we arrived at Belur - Chennakeshava temple, a mighty Gopura with Garuda sthambha and  chirping birds welcomed us to the era of Hoysalas. This Gopura, however is built by Vijayanagara empire.

[caption id="attachment_1505" align="alignnone" width="1000"]Gopura Gopura[/caption]

Once we entered the premises, the Chennakeshava temple at the center captured us with its magnificient beauty.

[caption id="attachment_3280" align="alignnone" width="1000"]belur-chennakeshava-temple-hassan-hoysala-02 Belur Chennakeshava temple front view[/caption]

The temple has a history of centuries together. The construction of the temple took 103 years. The Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana had commissioned for the construction of this temple and was completed during the period of  his grandson.

[caption id="attachment_3281" align="alignnone" width="1000"]belur-chennakeshava-temple-hassan-hoysala-03 Belur Chennakeshava temple side view[/caption]

The temple is star shaped and houses the main deity of Hoysala kingdom - Sri Chennakeshava -Hindu Lord Vishnu. The Kannada word "Chenna" refers to handsome and "Keshava" refers to Vishnu. The deity was sculptured by the famous sculptor "Jakkannachari".

The temple has three entrances and have sculptures of dwara palakas (guards) at each entrance.

One can buy tickets for taking photographs of the art work inside temple except the main deity.

[caption id="attachment_3283" align="alignnone" width="1000"]belur-chennakeshava-temple-hassan-hoysala-05 Ranga mantapa Ceiling architecture[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_3284" align="alignright" width="300"]belur-chennakeshava-temple-hassan-hoysala-06 Ugra narasimha on the ceiling architecture[/caption]

The temple has a ranga mantapa at the center on which the dancers used to perform. The above view is a fine piece of art with various patterns and at the center, one can notice the carving of Narasimha avatar of Vishnu.

The sculptures of Shilabalakis/dancers can be found on the four corners of Ranga mantapa. These includes the main dancers  who performed on ranga mantapa.







The interior of the temple houses several pillars and each of them are unique in design.

[caption id="attachment_3297" align="alignnone" width="1000"]belur-chennakeshava-temple-hassan-hoysala-19 Pillars - each one of them are unique and none of them are alike[/caption]

The most attractive and famous pillar is Narasimha Pillar. The carvings on this pillar are too intricate and beautiful.

[caption id="attachment_3288" align="aligncenter" width="683"]belur-chennakeshava-temple-hassan-hoysala-10 Narasimha Pillar[/caption]

The exterior of the temple includes carvings and sculptures depicting the mythology, Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Wars, Gods and Godesses.

[caption id="attachment_3289" align="alignnone" width="1000"]belur-chennakeshava-temple-hassan-hoysala-11 Exterior temple carvings[/caption]

The sculpture depicting  lifestyle of people during the era.

[caption id="attachment_3290" align="alignnone" width="1000"]belur-chennakeshava-temple-hassan-hoysala-12 Carvings depicting lifestyle[/caption]

The carvings of horses, lions and elephants found at the bottom of the temple. Each of them are unique meaning, no two elephants look alike.

[caption id="attachment_3296" align="alignnone" width="1000"]belur-chennakeshava-temple-hassan-hoysala-18 Horses, lions and elephants - War strategy[/caption]

The Incarnations of Vishnu. The architecture is so perfect till date.

[caption id="attachment_3291" align="alignnone" width="1000"]belur-chennakeshava-temple-hassan-hoysala-13 Dashavathars of Vishnu[/caption]

The sculpture of Ugra Narasimha - avatar of Vishnu. The most intricate sculpture.

[caption id="attachment_3292" align="aligncenter" width="643"]belur-chennakeshava-temple-hassan-hoysala-14 Ugra Narasimha sculpture[/caption]

The whole temple exterior is covered with innumerable sculptures and carvings, which is a feast to eyes of an art lover.



Towards the right, there is also another temple - Kappe Chennigaraya temple built by Shantala Devi, queen of king Vishnuvardhana. A Pushkarni is found at the left of the temple.

[caption id="attachment_3293" align="alignnone" width="1000"]belur-chennakeshava-temple-hassan-hoysala-15 Kappe Chennigaraaya temple[/caption]

The place just took us the kingdom of Hoysalas. The history has presented us with such an architecture, hope we all preserve and praise it. After this, one can visit to Halebidu (13kms), if time permits. For accomodation/stay , prefer Hassan as there are wide options.

With the memories of Hoysala architecture, we drove back to Bangalore.

History repeats !! :)  Like , Share and add your thoughts.


  1. you done a great job, i went there at 8 years ago when i studied fine art, now i'm deeply researching hoysala history, the embalm you have share called pulikadi mal, sangam Tamil literature says about it, Hoysala are velir descendant, you can see this kind of mural, sculptures widely in hoysala, vijainagara ( hoysala truned as vijainagara after veeravallala 3) architects. there is interesting story about this killing tiger.

  2. Thanks Surendhra Kumar :). Glad to know that you are a history buff!! Keep sharing your knowledge.
    Thanks for stopping by.

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