The Chennakesava Temple originally called Vijayanarayana Temple was built on the banks of the Yagachi River in Belur, an early capital of the Hoysala Empire. Chennakesava literally means "handsome Kesava" and is a form of Hindu God Vishnu. The temple is one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture.It was built by King Vishnuvardhana in commemoration of his victory over the Cholas at Talakadu in 1114 AD. Legend has it that it took 103 years to complete and Vishnuvardhana's grandson Veera Ballala II completed the task. The temple was built with soap stone rather than the usual mountain stones/rocks. The temple is filled with intricate sculptures and with no portion left blank. The intricate workmanship includes elephants, episodes from the Indian mythological epics and sensuous dancers. Darpana Sundari (Lady with the mirror) carved on walls of Belur Temple is one of major attraction.It is said there are around 20,000 statues are carved in the walls of the temple. Now the temples of Belur and Halebidu have been listed under UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The main entrance to the complex is crowned by a Rayagopura built during the days of Vijayanagar empire. The pillars inside the hall are an attraction and the most popular one is the Narasimha pillar which at one time, it is said, could revolve on its ball bearings. There is a rich diversity about the pillar styles here. While all the 48 pillars are unique and the many ceiling sections are well decorated, nothing surpasses the finish of the four central pillars and the ceiling they support. Belur is also called the 'Banaras of South' or 'Dakshina Varanasi'
How to get there
Belur is a well connected historical town and can be reached through a variety of modes ranging from air, rail and road. The railway station at Hassan is the nearest railway station to Belur, this lies around 40km from the town and trains are available from all the prominent places including Mysore, Bangalore and Mangalore. The nearest airports are Bangalore (222 km) and Mangalore (194 km). All major domestic airlines connect Bangalore with other major cities in India. Regular KSRTC buses connect Belur with Bangalore. The KSTDC organizes temple tours from Bangalore and Mysore to Hassan, Belur and Halebid.
Other Minor Attractions
Yagachi Dam, Gorur Dam, Halebidu, Shravanabelagola