BELUR TRAVEL GUIDE
Historical & Heritage
Ideal Trip Duration: 2-3 Hours
Base Station: Belur, Hassan (40 Kms)
Nearest City to Belur: Bangalore (217 Kms), Mysore (154 Kms)
Best Time to Visit Belur: November to March
Peak Season: November to March
State: Karnataka | District: Hassan
Belur Weather: Maximum - 38°C
Minimum - 20°C
At a distance of 25 km from Chikmagalur, 40 km from Hassan, 165 km from Mangalore, 154 km from Mysore and 217 km from Bangalore, Belur is very famous temple town situated in Hassan District of Karnataka State. It is renowned for the grand Hoysala Temple dedicated to Lord Chennakesava, an incarnation of Vishnu. It is the best of three Hoysala temples nominated for UNESCO World Heritage Sites (other two being the temples at Halebid & Somnathpur). The Hoysala temples are known for minute & intricate carvings and sculptures with metal like polishing. It is one of the best heritage sites in Karnataka, situated on Bangalore to Chikmagalur route. Belur is one of the well known Karnataka tourist places.
Belur was the early capital of the powerful Hoysala Empire on the banks of River Yagachi. As per inscriptions found here, Belur was formerly called as Velapuri. Hoysalas were initially under the control of Chalukyas and build their own kingdom after the fall of Chalukyas. The Hoysala dynasty originally had their capital at Halebid where they ruled for over 150 years. However, it was invaded by Malik Kafur in 14th century, plundered to poverty and ruins. Thus, the Hoysalas shifted their seat of power to Belur.
The Chennakesava temple is one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture. It was built by king Vishnuvardhana to celebrate his victory over the Cholas at Talakad in 1117 CE. It took 103 years to complete the temple and Vishnuvardhana's grandson Veera Ballala II completed the task. Standing on a star-shaped platform, the temple has three doorways. There are two more shrines for Soumyanayaki and Ranganayaki, consorts of Sri Chennakesava. There is a Pushkarni or stepped well to the right side of the main entrance. The dravida style rajagopuram at the entrance was a later addition by the Vijayanagar kings.
The facade of the temple is filled with intricate sculptures and friezes with no portion left blank. There are about 48 pillars of various sizes, shapes and designs, bearing testimony to remarkable artistry. Narasimha Pillar is an example of the fine art work done by Hoysala artists. The main highlight of the temple is Darpana Sundari or The lady with the mirror. There are four well-known bracket figures on the ornate ceiling that are inspired by Shantaladevi's well-endowed beauty. Visitors can see several carvings depicting episodes of Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Upanishads. Sculptures of birds and animals also can be seen. The beautiful sculpture of Shantaladevi is placed on the circular platform in front of the shrine. It is unique for its hollow and movable jewellery. The extensively carved doorway of the sanctum and the large life size sculptures of Lord Vishnu and other gods inside the temple exhibit wonderful workmanship.
Mangalore Airport is the nearest airport, which is 174 km from Belur. Nearest Railway Station is at Hassan, which is about 24 km from Belur. It has trains from Dharwar, Cannanore, Bangalore, Mysore, Shimoga and Arsikere. Regular buses ply from Bangalore, Chikmagalur, Halebid, Kadur, Hassan, Mangalore and Mysore to Belur.
Temple Timings: 9 AM to 6 PM.
Hassan is the base station to travel to Belur and there are frequent buses between Hassan & Belur.
Hoysala Mahotsava, a dance festival held in the temples of Belur and Halebid is celebrated in the month of March. It is one of the important festivals in Belur and Halebid. This place can be visited throughout the year. Usually it takes 2-3 hours to visit Belur.