Belur Temples

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U see east facing animal ie Royal Emblem of the Hoysala dynasty. Shows boy fighting an animal that has body of a lion and face of a tiger. Hoysala means killing the tiger. Hoy means to kill, Sala is the boys name who killed a tiger at the instance of his teacher Sudattacharya ie how the dynasty got its name. King Vishnuvardhana built the Chennakeshava Temple in 1116 to commemorate his vistory over the Cholas. The temple took 103 years to complete. There is a wall all around the temple.

U see the Gopuram at temple entrance that was built by the Vijayanagar King. Lower level is stone upper is brickword with stuccos. 130 pics on Belur presented in 2 parts. One is titled Belur Temples (has temple overview, exquisite artwork on outer wall and Shiva images). Two is Belur Temples 2 (bracket figures of maidens, inside temple pics, images of Lord Vishnu thruout temple and other smaller temples, must see). Both sections are WOW!

Pic as soon as u enter temple courtyard. Centre is temple. Behind it are Bhoodevi n Sridevi temples. Extreme right of pic is a long corridor with lots of images. Left are Kappe Chennigaraya temple and Saumyanayaki temple that u see on left of pic. In the centre of pic is the flag post. Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

From within the temple courtyard took this pic. U see Bali Peetham (sacrifice stone), Garuda, flagpost and gopuram behind. Flag post is called ''dwajasthambha''. During special festivities the flag of the deity is hoisted on this post after performing presecribed rituals.

Placed in between the sacrifice stone and flag post is the winged figure of Garuda, Lord Vishnu''s carrier. Garuda image is found outside every temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. For a good Hindi, English speaking guide contact Ramesh 9964236132. For a learned Kannada, English speaking guide Satyanarayan 9980027172 who also knows related Sanskrit words.

Board outside temple. This temple is used making soft soapstone with very intricate carvings. Standing on a platform the temple is 178 feet long (east west) and 156 feet broad (north west). Must see external walls, sculptures of dancing maidens and images of various manifestations of Lord Vishnu.

Next few pictures are overview of temple. U see temple entrance ie east facing. Temple is on a platform and is star shaped. U see two small temples at step level and two more at temple entrance. This two plus two design is on east, south and north sides. Was end December so lots of tourist. Stayed in a hotel close to temple. Drove 30 minutes to Halebidu day trip.

Temple view south side. Note two plus two small temples. Left of pic there is another small temple in front of temple chariot.

Temple view west side. Note there is temple chariot with small temple in front. By seeing the plinth design u get an idea of the star shaped temple.

Temple view north west side. Note temple chariot and small temple in front. Left of pic entrance has two plus two temples as in east and south directions. Top of structure u can see a small dome. There was a shikhara no longer there. Reasons not known. When Alauddin Khilji''s general invaded this area locals covered the temple with sand ie how temple got saved.

Side view from south eastern side. Left structure is Mantap, centre is temple, right granite pillar is Deepsthamba. Distance from Bangalore 224 kms, Mangalore 124 kms. Both have airports.

Temple south entrance, centre is gopuram and right is deepsthamba. Stayed at Sumukha Residency on Temple road, rate end December Rs 300/ per day for single room. Was clean n good. Food mostly meals or called Thali. Go to any restaurent close by. Have filter coffee and idlis, dosa at small hotels - lovely.

Around 6pm on day one saw assistant priests carrying Gangodak (holy water). He is accompanied by musicians. Water is taken from the well behind. This ritual is done daily.

A close up view of the Gopuram at sun set time. Temple open from 7.30am to about 7pm. Guide cost Rs 200-250/ for half an hour during season. End December cold during evening and early morning.

As u enter temple on the right hand side in one corner is the Kalyani Tank ie called Vasudeva Sarovar. U see board.

Sarovar picture. Has receeding steps on all sides. At entrance are two elephants that u see on right of pic.

A close up of the main temple. Now u shall see close ups of entrance, external wall sculptures/maidens. Amazing work.

The niche is at temple steps left side. Entrance at east, south, north have 2 niche temples while west has one. Inside is a Vishnu image that u shall see in Belur Temples 2. Centre of shikhara (vimana) has an image of Lord Vishnu.

Niche at temple right side of main entrance of temple. Note elephants at the bottom of structure. Unbelievable work done by master mason Dasoja and his son Chavana.

Temple entrance called Makaratorana (makara is an imaginary animal, torana is overhead decoration). Bottom is the royal emblem. On left and right sides u see two pillars on which are sculptures of maidens. Centre is Garuda, vehicle of Lord Vishnu. Above that is Narasimha avatar, either side are ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

East entrance left side u see Royal Emblem, doorkeeper Jaya and Manmatha (God of love) on extreme right of pic.

East entrance right side u see Royal Emblem, doorkepper Vijaya and Rati (Goddess of Love) on left of pic.

On the left of the Royal Emblem is this image. At lowest level is an elephant which was the symbol of the Chola kings. Since this temple was made to commemorate the victory over the Cholas symbolically it shows the Hoysala Emblem on top of the Chola one.

Close up of main temple entrance. Centre is Garuda, vehicle of Lord Vishnu. Above is Narasimha avatar of Lord Vishnu. On either side are ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Either side of Garuda is mythical animal Makara.

Court scene of Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana who built temple in 1117. On his left is Queen Shantala. On his right is Ramnajuacharya an important philosopher-saint of Sri Vaishnavam. He was also a social reformer, revitalized Indian philosophy and popular religion very much. To know more about him clicke here

East facing external wall, ground to sky. Row 1 is elephants, 2 series of lion faces, 3 artistic foliage, 4 row of bead garlands, 5 small figures of men and women engaged in dancing, 6 damsels in various poses in between niches created by minitiature pillars. 7 on garbhagriha walls are 24 manifestations of Vishnu. All along outer walls have Purnanic episodes. U see two of the 40 pillars on whose brackets are dancing maidens. Windows with holes that u see next to pillars is for natural light to get into temple.

Similar panel on north west wall. Level 1 is elephant, next lion face, creepers, then dancers, again dancers, shikharas small towers and last is story of the Mahabharata.

Close up of upper portion of panel. First level is dancing women. Second level see women looking at herself in the mirror. Third level are small temples. Last level is story of Mahabharata.

Close up of panel. Lower level is elephant, lion face and creepers. Note entire temple made of soft soapstone.

These are niches in the wall, are Devangana figures. In case you find any errors in the narrations please write in. Thanks.

Different mudras (postures) some of which are of Bharatnatyam dance. One is playing a drum, two is dressing her hair, three is holding a flute.

Lady writing a book. Shows that women in Hoyasala period were educated.

Panel depicts social life of people. In centre lady is dancing, to her left is a sainik (soldier) indicated by a shield.

U see male and female who has a donkey face. The story as per the Guide was - For a 16 year old boy even a donkey looks beautiful.

South entrance. Centre is Garuda. Above is Narasimha incarnation of Vishnu killing demon Hiranyakashyap with mythical animal Makara on both sides. The animal has a body of a pig, mouth of a crocodile, trunk of an elephant, feathers of a peacock, legs of a lion, eyes of a monkey and ears of a cow.

Hoysala emblem south side ie on left of entrance.

Hoysala emblem south side ie on right of entrance.

Right side of south entrance. Right is Hanuman, left is doorkeeper Jaya.

Left side of south entrance. Left is Garuda, right is doorkeeper Vijaya.

On left is live wrestling. On right are spectators watching.

View of temple from South west side of temple. East, south, north sides have entrances west does not have. Walls on either side of the stone chariot have images of mainly Vishnu that u shall see Belur Temples 2 collection.

South side temple stone chariot. From plinth level, one is elephant (strength), two is lion (courage) and three is horse (speed). Animals symbolise personality traits. Left of pic u can see image of Narasimha incarnation of Lord Vishnu whose close up u can see in Belur Temples 2.

A vertical view of the stone chariot. Inside at each level are images of Lord Vishnu that can see in Belur Temples 2.

A close up of the lower part of stone chariot ie elephants,lions and horses. Intentionally took pic at an angle for u to see design on three sides. Can todays technology create these marvels?

This is Deviroop killing the Asura who is in the form of a Mahisha (ie male buffalo) so she is known as Mahishasuramardini (whose image u see). Mahisha is male buffalo, asura is a demon, mardhini means to slay.

U see side wall that has images of Shiva details of which u shall see in next couple of pics. Extreme left and right are Shiva. Close up of these two image in next two pictures.

The demon Gajasura (gaja is elephant, sura is demon) took the form on an elephant and attacked Lord Shiva. U see Lord Shiva dancing on Gajasuras decapitated head. Shiva killing elephant is called Gajacharmambra Dhari. To read more Click here

Nagnakalabhairava - Shiva holding a trishul, sword, kapala with demon head decorated in skulls and snakes. Look at the platform below his paduka (feet) indicate wooden footwear.

U see Surya Bhagwan (Sun God) with seven horses. In the centre can see his sarthy Arun.

Elephants, lions and horses close up. What work?

North side of temple. Right to left is Lord Hanuman and dancers.

Inscriptions in Kannada on north side of temple. Guide Ramesh insisted I click and upload this. Ramesh was great support. Not only did he show me around well but after 6pm sat in hotel room and dictated narrations for every picture. On reaching Mumbai he responded to my queries on phone and sms. Really grateful to him.

Right side Sadhu standing in front of animals. Below is a pig caught by a snake, snake also caught elephant. A LION has the three animals in her grip, then Sherba has the eagle and lastly a double- headed eagle is taking all the animals. What imagination!

Stone chariot western side.

A close up of the western side panel.

North facing stone chariot.

Creeper design on top, lion face below - close up for u.

Left to right is Yashoda holding hand of Krishna, Arjuna shooting during Draupadi swayamvar, third is Vishnu, fourth is Manamatha (God of Love) and Rati (Goddess of Love), after that all Vishnu. The Vishnu images are the forms belonging to the 24 forms of Vishnu which can be identified on the basis of the 4 symbols carried by them ie Shankha (coonch), Chakra (discus), Gada (mace) and Padma (lotus). Figure in north west wall.

North gate entrance. Doorkeepers on both sides as in east and south entrances. U will see close up of Makaratorana ahead.

Close up of Makaratorana. Garuda below and above is Lord Vishnu. Belur temple should be declared a World Heritage site. It is comparable to Khajuraho in every way. Do go there.