Temples of south india always maintained the rich cultural heritage of india. Way back south indian rulers preserved the art and architechture leaving behind the legacy of magnificient constructions mainly Hindu temples. Belur temple is live example of south indian quality of beauty. This is also called as Keshava,kesava,Vijayanaraya Temple is located in Hassan dist. of karnataka. This was the capital of Hoysala empire which ruled karnataka from 10 – 14 century period. This is located in the banks of Yagachi River. This is about 35 km from Hassan city and 222 kilometers from Banglore. As I have travelled from Mysore, it is 170 kms to the temple. I appeciate if you are going to visit this as you are going to wittness the real beauty of architecture and this would serve best road trip experience. Isuggest you to have some time there, because the temple has got a lot of architecture that cannot be described in words or seen in hurry. Prepare yourself to stay at the temple for 4- 5 hours ,that you anyway will do once you go there.
The Hoysala’s served the important period in development of art , architecture, culture and religion aspects in southern parts of India. The Hoysala’s have built many number of existing temples that are scattered across Karnataka. The detailed architecture of this temple is living example of skilled art work of Amarashilpi Jakanachari and his students. Many fine temples were built by the legendary sculptor Jakanachari for the kalyani Chalukyas and Hoyasalas in many parts of southern region (mainly Karnataka).
This dedicated Vishnu temple secured its place under UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The temple art work resembles the secular life in 12 the century dancers, mucisians and artists. The whole temple is divided into two parts one is for dancers, musicians and kings representing their art and culture. The other half is for Gods and Godessess resembling puranas.
Inside, the temple has got 48 pillars, which are all unique and has its own style for every pillar.Each pillar is divided into 5 parts based on design. There is an index pillar which has an extraordinary art engraved on it. There is a place(2 x 3 inch) in this index pillar left plain without any art just to challenge the other artists and sculptors at that time.
The stunning beauty about this pillar is ,it is used to rotate before 200 years with help of ball bearing made out of stones.Now it is not operating as big pillar shikara got destroyed and smuggled during war .Even now we can witness stone bearings in lower part of pillar as witness. We can find many designs on different pillars like anklets ,flower desing, diamond shapes, necklace, bangles which represents their the art on ornaments, all are designed differently.There are two bangle design around a pillar near gharba gudi). Which can be rotated even now (They rarely allow us ).
Inside the temple it is mostly dark but an eye catching umbrella design on the ceiling is one of the beauty of the temple which looks like the shatagopam and is in middle of temple which is 24 feet around and 6 feet depth into the ceiling.The art on this represents Mahabarath, Dancers, musicaians, royal emblem.In the middle a suspended pillar was fixed. Inside this suspended pillar Bramha sitting on the lotus flower, above narasimha and whole this things looks like a “ulta shiva linga”.The main concept of this is representing Trimurti (the three forms of beleif), the curio of supreme divnity in Hinduism in which the ultimate fuctions of creation, maintenance and destruction is the collector’s piece .Mainly Brahma – The creator,Vishnu(Narasimha avatara) – preserver and Maheshwara(Shiva) – The destroyer.It is made out of many pieces which is fixed by interlock system without any support.
Every design in this is just the interlock sytem without any support.
Queen Shanthala,the wife of king is a great dancer . This used to be a place of performance where queen who used to dance and people used to gather all around inside the temple.
Vara murthy statue is the rythm statue, In olden days people used to climb and tap it to hear different rythms and it got totally damaged after many devotees taping.We can find similar one in Hampi. There we can hear sound/rythm by taping even now.
There are 644 elephant sculptures spread all around the temple (no elephant resembles the other – all are designed differently) pushing each other which represents strength. Above this lion representing courage and then horse representing speed and flower ,the beauty.
elephant, lion, horse and flower designs running around the temple
The gopuram of this temple was built in the peroid of british in early 16th century.
Recent contruction of garuda can be witnessed near the entrace.
Some details follows:
The main dancer Queen Shanthala used to dance on occations that makes the whole city to gather inside the temple
There is a dancer whose clothes are being pulled by a monkey while dancing. A dancer, who pretends her to be the beautiful one in the city and symbolising it.A dancer whose kids surrounds her due to hunger. A happy dancer who dances beating drums.
A 16 years old teenage couple is being portraid in which the female head was engraved as donkey symbolising that in teenage a donkey can also looks beautiful. The harmones are so high even a girl who is way more ugly can also make a boy to fall in love.
This one thing made me to admit the belur art. A very small insect , which is barely visible through normal eyes is carved on a fruit which is holding by a dancer and a lizard waiting to eat that insect.
Ravanasura, the great king with 10 heads and 20 hands is lifting 4 lokas. Pointedly Naga loka, Bhoo loka, Deva loka, Kailasa loka to show his power.
This is lord shiva killing an elephant and dancing inside its body, several parts of elephant fiercing the shiva.
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