Belur is famous for its Hoysala Architecture temples , Chennakesava Temple being the most famous & visited.
Shravanabelagola – Belur – Halebidu are three famous tourist destinations in Karnataka which are ideally to be covered in single day if possible since the three spots are located quite close to each other. We booked the tour via Karnataka Tourism and State department which offers the single day trip from Bangalore and Mysore and covers all the three spots. It starts from the Badami house in Bangalore at 6.30 am and reaches Bangalore at 10.oo pm and costed 950 INR at the time of the blog.
Starting from Shravanabelagola town at about 11.45 a.m, we the tour bus took us to a restaurant owned by the Karnataka Tourism department. We actually expected the price of food items to be low given that the restaurant is owned by the government but that wasn’t the case. It costed as much. (About 150 per head without alcohol). Again only half hour for lunch only.
As such Belur is located about 40 Kms from Hassan , a 45 mins Bus ride from Hassan will get one to Belur. Belur and Halebidu are only 25 Km apart and both the spots can be covered in 3 hours. (Major Sight seeing spots)
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The Chennakesava Temple is located within belur, so reaching the destination was hardly a problem and we were there by 2 p.m. Remove your slippers outside and a small fee to the guard.
At Belur, a free lance tour guide enters the bus and offers his services without a mention of his rates. Folks assume that he is provided by KSTDC which he is not. He mentioned his charge only at the end of both Belur and Halebidu tour which is quite high. (100 INR per person, so for a family of four it is 400 INR). Ensure that you get the rates clarified at the very beginning since he is not going to mention them.
An almost gold coloured sculpted gopuram greets us as we enter the temple
The entrance of the temple takes us to a huge courtyard, at the centre of which stands the Chennakesava Temple. According to records, it took 103 years to complete this masterpiece of hoysala architecture. The complex overall has many smaller shrines, mandapams and other structures. Unfortunately, it was so crowded on that day , that I couldn’t get a decent picture without at least a hundred people in it.
The main temple is located right at the center of the huge courtyard.
As I mentioned before, a guide strung along with us and was able to provide a decent amount of information. The 500 year old temple is made of soapstone and is built of interlocking components which join together and provide the structural integrity. Apparently the entire temple can disassembled and reassembled at another location, something that I find very hard to believe.
At the very entrance, there are sculptures of the ten avatars of lord Vishnu above the doorway.
Inside the temple, it is pretty dark. There are multiple intricately sculpted pillars supporting the roof and each of the pillars tell a different story. The finest are the Mohini pillar on the south west and the the Narsimha Pillar on the south east.
At the very center is the main shrine dedicated to lord Vijayanarayan, one the 24 incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The main priest continuously requested the tourists not to take pictures of the main diety but no one was paying attention which was quite irritating.
Outside the main temple, take a stroll in the main courtyard to visit a number of other smaller temples.
We were done here by 4.00 p.m and left for Halebidu.