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Tourist Places To Visit In Belur
So quintessential was the Hoysalas’ love for temples and architecture, that between the 10th to 14th centuries, they had built more than a 1000 temples. About 300 of them survive today, dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and some as Jain Basadis. This is the highlight of the town of Belur in Karnataka.
What makes the Hoysalas' monuments so incredible is the sophistication in craftsmanship, with intricately carved sculptures that speak volumes on the legends of the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas. The temples that the Hoysalas built were spread over a wide area of what are today little towns dotted around Belur and Halebidu, the capital cities. Here are some tourist places you can visit in Belur. After visiting the Belur temple, you can visit the monuments in the neighbouring towns.
Chennakesava Temple, Belur
Belur Chennakeshava or Vijayanarayana Temple, rising loftily on the banks of the Yagachi River, is the hallmark of Belur. King Vishnuvardhana laid the foundations for this Vishnu temple around 1104 CE, to celebrate his victory over the Cholas in the Battle of Talakadu. It was during the reign of King Vishnuvardhanas’s grandson Veera Ballala 11, 103 years later, that the temple was completed. Invasions by the Delhi Sultanate took its toll on the temple but later additions and modifications by Veera Ballala 11 and the Vijayanagara Kings have made the Chennakesava Temple one of Karnataka’s most important tourist places.
Soak in the beauty of the star shaped wonder of the ancient world and while you’re there, visit-
-The Pushkarini or holy pond near the main entrance.
-The unsupported 42 m high gravity pillar or Karthika Deepotsava Stumbha in the middle court.
-The Madanikas or Dancing girls on the outer walls, especially the renowned Darpana Sundari or girl with a mirror, said to be inspired by Shantala, the Queen of King Vishnuvardhan.
-The Crest of Hoysala which shows ‘Sala’, a brave heart fending off a lion, which was supposedly attacking a saint.
The Doddagadavalli Lakshmi Temple was built in 1113 AD by a merchant called Kulhana Rahuda, under the patronage of King Vishnuvardana. The temple is a fine example of the early architectural styles of the Hoysalas. There are smaller shrines for Kali, Boothanatha Linga, Vishnu and Bairava. The Lakshmi temple is located in Doddagadavalli, on the Belur-Hassan Highway, about 24 km from Belur.
The temple is open from 6.00am-8.00pm.
Visit the Bucesvara temple built in 1173AD by the officer Buciraja to celebrate the ascension of King Veera Ballala 11 on the throne. Amidst the lantana and shrubs that grow profusely, there are relics of more temples close by. The ruins of the Nageshwara and Govindeshwara Temple built by Govindaraja during the reign of King Narasimha 1, are a little distance away from the Buceswara Temple. These temples, though in ruins, are some of the finest examples of Hoysalas’ 12th century architectural skills.
Koravangala is 48 km from Belur, via Belur road.
This is an eight armed star shaped fort built by Tipu Sultan in 1792. Tipu Sultan had a team of French engineers build the Fort for him, on the top of a hill, with a great view of the countryside around and the Arabian Sea far away down the horizon. The walled fort has a couple of cellars that were used to store gun powder and has a deep well, probably to store water. There are not many tourists around, but it’s a must see on your trip. The landscape is green and lush, and the hardy moss coated walls of the Fort enlivens the atmosphere further. The Manjarabad Fort is about 10 km from Sakleshpur.
There are a number of temples in Sakleshwar, including the 11th-14th century old Sakleshpur Swami Shiva Temple on the banks of Hemavathi River at the entrance to the town. Sakleshpur is about 36 km from Belur.
Belur and Halebidu are the twin town marvels of Hoysala architecture. Visit the ever so famous Hoysaleshwara, which is the largest temple of Shiva in South India and the Kedareshwara Temples in Halebidu. Halebidu has a number of temples that stand put as some of the best examples of the artisanship of the Hoysalas. Halebidu is about 16 km from Belur.
Shravanabelagola has two hills called the Chandragiri and Vindhyagiri. The Chandragiri Hill has many ancient Jain Temples or Basadis you can visit. Atop the Vindhyagiri Hill is one of the world’s largest monolith statues of Gomateshwara. You can visit the tomb of Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Mauryan Empire, who renounced his kingdom, became a Jain Monk and found his final resting place in Sharavanabelagola. Surrounded by a lush countryside and hillocks, a pond in the centre of the town, coupled with architecturally splendid temples, Shravanabelagola is one significant tourist place in Karnataka.
Shravanabelagola is about 89 km from Belur.
This tiny hamlet about 19 km from Mudigere, is the birthplace of the Hoysalas. According to legends, it was here that a young man called Sala killed the tiger that attacked his guru Sudattacharya, who cried ‘Poi... Sala’ (Strike... Sala!). It was Sala who established the Hoysala Dynasty and it was to his credit that the Hoysala kings marked their crest with the sculpture of a young man killing a tiger. You’ll find the crest in most Hoysala temples.
There are quite a good number of temples in the town of Arisikere. Notable among them is the Amaragiri Malekallu Thirupathi temple for Venkataramanaswamy. According to legends, sages like Agasthya and Vasistha offered their prayers to the Lord at this temple. The temple is on top of a hill with about a thousand steps leading to it. At the foothills is a temple for Govindarajaswamy. The temple is yet another example of Hoysala architecture.
The temple is about 2 km from Arisikere on the Bengaluru-Honnavara highway. While at Arisikere you could also visit the Kamalameshwara or Chandramoulishwara Shiva temple built by the Hoysalas in 1220 AD. Arisikere is about 60 km from Belur.