The Karnataka Diaries – 3: Belur

Belur was an  interesting aspect of our short journey through Karnataka. Belur or Velapuri (which was its old name) is about 20 kms away from Halebidu and therefore a very quick drive away.  It was the first capital  of the Hoysalas  who  didn’t leave any stone un-turned while constructing the grand “chenna keshava” temple.  From what I gathered “Chenna Keshava” [in Kannada] translated to English means “Beautiful Vishnu”  and they were definitely right!! The Vishnu in the sanctum sanctorum is a real treat to your eyes! Unfortunately we could not take photographs inside the temple unless you paid a fee!!  I felt that my camera would not be able to cope with the subtle lighting inside the temple so I let this pass..So most of my pictures of Belur are the ones from outside the temple. Also the shrines of Vishnu, Lakshmi and Andaal are fully functional at Belur. What makes this temple different is that the you can find Andaal in a seated posture while opposed to the usual standing pose that she holds in almost all temples….. Pity we couldn’t take pictures.

This is probably by far the largest temple I have ever seen. The temple seems to be situated over many acres of land and it seemed like every deity had its own temple within the enormous grounds! Here are some of the pictures….

Our arrival at Belur was announced in 3 languages right outside the temple…


As we entered the humongous temple, we were welcomed by the most beautifully sculpted Lord Garuda. He looked so real standing right outside Lord Vishnu’s temple.


Upon completing our formalities with the main deities, we started strolling through the temple grounds.  Once again we were surrounded by the sculptures of the Hoysala emblem…

Hoysala Emblem

And some gorgeous sculptures of Lord Vishnu….It was sad to note that some of these beauties seem to be withering away thanks to the weather and pollution.

Beautiful Vishnu

The carvings on the pillars were spell binding. It was amazing to note the details that went into these pillars.

Temple Pillars

The entire temple was surrounded by the scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana and not to mention the various avatars of Lord Vishnu and other Hindu religious events and tales…

War Scene
Temple Walls

And this was my favorite of them all……..the dynamic Lord Hanuman…


And of course the most famous sculpture of them all – Vishnu’s Mohini avatar. This little gem was just hidden away atop of some other pillars and carvings and we chanced on it thanks to a guide who was explaining this to visitors 🙂


It was an unforgettable day where we waked through the temples of the past and the present.. I’d like to end this post with a picture of the gorgeous temple towers a.k.a gopurams or vimanams and 2 pigeons taking off 🙂 I highly recommend Belur and Halebidu for anyone interested in history, art and architecture…it is an experience you will cherish!

Temple Gopuram


  1. I had been to bangalore and its one of the beautiful places of India. Just like any other place of India, bangalore has its own history and rich in traditions and cultures.

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