Sunday, 6 October 2013

Visit to Chennakesava Temple Belur Taluka, Hassan District, Karnataka - Part II

Chennakesava Temple is situated in a small taluka Belur, district Hassan in Karnataka. It is 220 km from Bangalore & about 40 km from city of Hassan. Nearest railway station is Chikmagalur which is 22 km away.

Its average height is 3200 ft above sea level & breezy weather is similar to Bangalore. Best time to visit is Oct-Mar when humidity level is low.

Belur or Beluru in Kannada, together with Halebidu which is 16 km away were the early capital of the Hoysala Empire. There is a legend about the name Hoysala. It is said that Sala & his guru Sudatta Muni were performing a ritual in a temple of Vasantha Parameshwari in nearby Sosevur & a tiger attacked them. Sudatta Muni gave a call of ‘Hoye” to Sala who struck the tiger (some say it was a lion) down. Thus began Hoysala dynasty which ruled for 300 years with Sala as first ruler. The scene of fight between Sala & the tiger has been carved out of stone beautifully & it became an emblem of Hoysalas.

Of the Hoysala kings two names are very prominent King Vishnuvardhana & his grandson King Veera Ballala II. King Vishnuvardhana was great patron of art & is said to have commissioned 1500 temples of which 100 survived. He started building the Chennakesava temple in 1117 to commemorate victory over Cholas & his grandson king Veera Ballala II completed the task after 103 years.

The temple is dedicated to Chenna-Kesava that is handsome Kesava or Krishna another avatar of Vishnu. The walls & the pillars of the temple are full of intricate & fine engravings & sculptures. Hardly any space is left blank. Besides elephants, horses & tigers, stories from ancient Hindu scriptures have been carved with great care, intricacy of design & poetic depiction.

Soap stone has been used which is easy to work for creating ornate designs. Jakanachari & his son Dankanchari were main sculptors. Others have also been mentioned in inscriptions or have signed the statues. Some of them are Ruvari Mallitamma (over 40 sculptures), Dasoja and his son Chavana (10 madanikas), Malliyanna and Nagoja (birds and animals) Chikkahampa and Malloja (other than main temple).

A well in the precincts of the Temple

Part of the temple is available for marriage ceremonies against payment. Panditji has just finished his job 

Ornate pillars inside the hall are a unique feature of the temple. Each of them has lots of engravings & intricate carvings which are technically brilliant. Smooth surfaces, geometrically perfect designs are magnificent. Guide informed that these heavy stone pillars were rotated with the help of elephants & while rolling they were hand-chiselled & hand polished. The result is fantastic & they look as if they have been smoothened on mechanical lathes. Another remarkable feature is delicate & beautiful bracket figures or madanika’s or Shilbalika’s at the top of pillars. They look so fine & fragile that it is difficult to imagine them to be carved out of stone.

Top portion of the pillars. 

Entire pillar has been divided in to small well crafted windows. Every window has a image of god. This particular window has been left plain without any carving. There are two anecdotes for this window - (a) that artist left this window plain as God is 'nirakaar' that is He has no shape (b)  that any other artist who could carve better statues may do so here
Every inch of the pillar has a story to tell

Divine beauty in stone
Lady feeding a parrot

Lady drying her hair after washing them

Dancing Lady
Lady getting her drum ready for the show
On the right is a dancing lady. The middle one is a smiling spy or Vishkanya with least clothes. Near her left feet is a scorpion justifying her name. On left is an arrogant beauty getting ready.
Lady with a mirror DarpanSundari.

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