Belur is one of the most popular destinations in Karnataka. Located in the Hassan district, this temple town is 220km away from Bangalore. Set on the banks of the river Yagachi, Belur is also known as the Benaras of the South or the Dakshina Benaras a reference to the numerous temples that dot its landscape.
Belur is significant because it was the capital of Hoysala Empire. Some of the tourist places to visit in Belur include Veera Narayana Temple, Chenna Kesava Temple, Darpana Sundari, Kappe Chennigaraya Temple and many more.
Veera Narayana Temple
One of the places to visit in Belur is the Veera Narayana Temple which is dedicated to Lakshmi Narayana. Built by the Hoysala Empire, it is known for its artistic interiors. This small temple is placed on a raised platform and displays beautiful sculptures of Vaishnava on its exterior walls. The western side of outer wall is adorned with large and impressive figures of Vijaya Narayana, Chenna Kesava and Lakshmi Narayana. Tourists can also see 59 large images of Bhima, Ganesha, Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Saraswati, Parvati and Bhairava.
Photo Courtesy: Vijay Duvvuri
Chenna Kesava Temple
One of the tourist places to visit in Belur is the Chenna Kesava Temple and is dedicated to Chennakesava, an avatar of Lord Vishnu. This shrine was erected by Hoyasala Vishnuvardhana in order to celebrate his conquest over the Cholas. Tourists can see sculptures of different episodes of Puranas, the Upanishads, elephants and tales of the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Apart from these, there are various Madanakai damsels' carvings and a variety of figures in Navaranga. Additionally, there are many other temples located inside the veranda.
Photo Courtesy: Native Planet
Another tourist place to visit in Belur is the Darpana Sundari, also known as lady with the mirror. The sculpture is engraved on the walls the Belur temple. Tourists can see several bracket figures that depict celestial nymphs or the figures of singing and dancing Madanikas at this temple. It is believed that the main inspiration of these sculptures is the magnificent beauty of Shantala Devi, the Queen of King Vishnuvardhana.
Photo Courtesy: Dr. Umesh Behari Mathur
The Big Tank
Another place to visit in Belur is The Big Tank popularly known as Vishnu Samudra. This tank was constructed at the time of Narasimha Raya under Padmarasa's supervision. During Krishna Devaraya, Basappa Naayaka of Utpatanahalli constructed the north end in quadrangular and added few steps on all three sides. With the help of these stairs, people can easily go down and can use holy water for daily sacred purposes.
Photo Courtesy: Rajkumar Vijayraj
The Gravity Pillar
The Gravity Pillar is a major tourist place in Belur. It is a 42 ft high pillar, also known as Mahasthambha or Kartika Deepotsava Stambha and is one of the prime attractions of Chennakesava temple. There is no base to this pillar and is positioned on a platform made of single stone. This pillar displays the excellence of Vijaya Nagara reign architects and has stature and stability.
Photo Courtesy: Jarekt
How to Reach Belur
By Air: Mangalore International Airport is the nearest airport to Belur a distance of about 169 km. This connects flights from Middle East countries as well as from major cities in India like Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata to name a few.
By Train: Hassan Railway Station is the nearest railhead to Belur, situated at a distance of about 40 km. It is well connected to major Indian cities and nearby towns, such as Bangalore, Mysore and Mangalore.
By Road: Belur is well connected with major and nearby cities, such as Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore, Madikeri, Shimoga, Chikmagalur and Hassan via several private and state buses.
Photo Courtesy: Tomas Belcik