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Belur was the capital of the Hoysala Empire. With Halebid, this is one the major tourist destinations in the district of Hassan in Karnataka, India. Accoring to the inscriptions discovered, it was also referred to as Velapuri. Belur also known as Dakshina Varanasi or Southern is situated on the banks of Yagachi river in the state of Karnataka. The main attraction in Belur is the Chennakesava temple, which is one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture. It was built by King Vishnuvardhana in commemoration of his victory over the Viceroy of Talakadu in 1117AD. Legend has it took 103 years to compete with Vishnuvardhana’s grandson completing the work started by his grandfather. The facade of the temple is filled with intricate sculptures and frinzes with no portion left blank. The intricate workmanship includes elephants, episodes from the Indian mythological epics, and sensuous dancers (the Shilabalikas). Inside the temple are a number of filigreed pillars.
History of Belur
From inscription it is learnt that Vishnuvardhana got the temple built in memory of his victory against Cholas in Talkad. Other sources declare that Vishnuvardhana got built this temple when he embraced Vaishnavism, as advised by the Great Guru Sri Ramanujacharya. Shantala Devi though a Jain by faith a noted dancer and on one of the temple's brackets her dancing poses has been sculptured in the most ornate and in exuberant style.The art showcases the intricacy of the hair styles and ormanments during the Hoysala period.

The Hoysala dynasty originally had their capital at Halebid (about 17 kms from Belur) where they ruled for over 150 years. However, it was attacked by invaders, Mallik Kafur, a couple of times during the 14th century, plundered to poverty and ruins. Thus, the Hoysalas shifted their seat of power to Belur which stood proud as a powerful empire back then.
Air :The nearest airports are Bangalore (222 km) and Mangalore (194 km).

Rail : Hassan is the nearest railhead. Hassan is connected to other major junctions such as Bangalore, Mysore and Mangalore.

Road : Regular buses ply from Bangalore (222 kms), Halebid (16 kms), Hassan (40 kms), Hospet (330 kms), Mangalore (124 kms), Mysore (149 kms) to Belur.
Belur, situated in the Hassan district of Karnataka, enjoys a tropical climate, just like the neighboring cities. It neither experiences excessively high a temperature in the summer, nor biting cold in the winters. The summer season in Belur starts from the month of March and lasts till June. During this time, the city experiences warm weather, with the maximum temperature being around 390 C. The minimum temperature hovers around 290 C. Summer gives way to monsoons, when the city gets covered in a cloak of green.

By the time it is November, Belur gets ready to usher in the winter season, which lasts till February. The air start getting a bit chilly, as the maximum temperature comes down to 31°C and the minimum temperature hovers around 24°C. The hottest month in the year is April, while the coolest one is December. The annual rainfall is around 110 cm.
Tourist Attractions
Chennakeshava Temple
The temple is a holy house for sculptures showcasing innumerable variety of ornaments, the doorways, the ceilings, the birds, the animals, dancers and other figures are fully decorated as if they are full of life and vigour with variety of actions and movements.The doorways are guarded on either side by the gorgeously decorated dvarapalaka (doorkeepers). There are two more shrines here that are still in use by devotees and there is a Pushkarni or stepped well to the right side of the main entrance. The temple is one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture. The facade of the temple is filled with intricate sculptures and friezes with no portion left blank. The main entrance is crowned by a Rayagopura built during the days of Vijayanagar Empire. Within the temple complex, the Chennakesava temple is in the centre, facing east and flanked by Kappe Channigaraya temple and a small Lakshmi temple on its right. At Chennakesava temple daily rituals are performed.

Interesting sights with in the sanctum are the ancient jet-black Hoysala pillars, covered with bright vermilion smeared on by devotees. The main temple is surrounded by Temples of Soumyanayaki and Ranganayaki, beloveds of Sri Chennakesava. Stories from the Puranas, Upanishads and other mythological stories have been carved in the most authentic way. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata also have been included .The bracketed figurines called the Madanikas or celestial nymphs are no doubt the highlight of the temple's magnificent architecture. The Madanikas are said to be inspired by the beautiful Queen Shantaladevi, epitomizing the ideal feminine form. There are about 48 pillars of various sizes, shapes and designs, bearing testimony to remarkable artistry. The main highlight of the temple is Darpana Sundari or "The lady with the mirror". Inside, even in the darkness, you can see the shining pillars, each unique in its own splendor. The most popular one is the Narasimha pillar in the Navaranga, unique in its filigreed splendor. It is said to have revolved on its ball bearings once. Shantaladevi, a dance legend herself, built a temple in similar fashion to the main temple, which was called the Channigaraya temple. The entire structure with its intricate Filigree gleams like metal. Chloritic Schist, a light greenish soapstone, hard as granite was used to create the complex.
Kappe Chennigaraya Temple
Kappe Chennigaraya Temple is located in the south side of ChennaKeshava temple. It has two parts. The main part has a beautiful sculpture of ChennaKeshava - about 6.5 feet over the pedestal. The Prabhavali ( the ornate arch made of stone in this case) has Dasavatara (the ten incarnations of Vishnu) sculptures. The Pitha (pedestal) has an inscription of Queen Shantala of Hoysala King Vishnuvardana stating that it was consecrated by her in the year 1117 AD. The temple rises over an elevated platform. The perforated Jalandras (side walls) were done at the time of Ballala II in 1206. The Sukhanasi doorway is beautifully executed with a figure of Lakshminarayana flanked by makaras on the lintel. The doorway of the Venugopal Shrine has the figure of Narasimha killing Hiranyakashipu. The niche on the outer walls of the Sukhanasi has exquisite sculptures of Lakshminarayana, Ganesha, Saraswati and Mahishamardini. The 4 pillars of the Navaranga are, as is common in Hoysala architecture, lathe turned and have bracket figures on them.

A legend says that Dankanachari(son of Jakanachari) found that the main statue of Lord Vishnu was faulty and had frog inside it. Jakana, shocked to believe this, cuts his right hand. He will begin to build the other temple and contemplates the task. Later, the old temple (which had faulty statue) came to be known as kappechennigaraaya's temple (kappe means frog).
Veera Narayana Temple
Located to the west of Keshava temple is a small and compact structure with the outer walls containing beautiful sculptures of Vaishnava and Shaiva faith. It consists of a Garbagriha (sanctum sanctorum), a Sukhanasi and a Navaranga. The 59 large images on the outer wall surfaces depict Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma, Parvati, Saraswati, Bhairava, Ganesha and Mahishamardini amongst others.
Hoysaleshwara temple
The grand Hoysaleshwara temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, the largest of the Hoysala temples. Comprising of two shrines, both dedicated to Lord Shiva, and decorated with rather big Nandi bulls facing the entrance, this temple was never really completed in spite of the 87 years spent in its construction. Begun in 1121, this temple on a star-shaped platform has beautifully carved detailed depictions of scenes from the epics, of mythical figures and sculptures of much of the Hindu divine pantheon. Though the superstructure was never completed, every inch of the existing structure is covered with intricate painstakingly carved sculptures. This labour of love is truly awe-inspiring.
Yagachi Dam
As you move towards Chikmaglur, from Belur, hardly after a few minutes drive, you will come across Yagachi River, on which a small dam has been constructed. The backwaters of the dam, which spread over a vast area, give it a pleasant charm. The picturesque surrounds combine with a tranquil atmosphere to give this place a unique appeal.
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