Chennakesava Temple

Sri Chennakeshava Swamy Temple

Chennakesava Temple originally referred to as Vijayanarayana temple also contributes to one of the most magnificent and well-known temples of the south and thousands of pilgrims and visitors have the propensity to visit this holy temple on a regular basis. Located in Belur, this temple is considered to be one of the most outstanding monuments from Hoysala times and region. The term Chenna means ‘beautiful’ and Keshava stands for ‘Krishna’ and together they signify ‘One with lovely long hair.’ The centre of attraction at Chennakesava Temple is the architectural style which is not just inimitable in its own way but is also extremely alluring to the spectators. The temple is positioned opposite to the entrance hall, popularly known as ‘Gopuram’ and tends to attract visitors at the very first instance. There are three divergent pieces of architecture that can be clearly viewed within the soapstone monument. The disguise of the temple is packed with elaborated sculptures and wall paintings covering the entire wall.

The monument consists of a shrine, a platform and an open hall. The shrine also termed as Vimana Mulaprasada is quite larger than the usual. This is so because its podium measures about 10 by 10 meters while the usual size is believed to be 5 by 5 meters. The architectural style which is the central point of attraction is designed in the Nãgara style which is basically the North Indian style but this is to a certain extent knotty to look at because the tower is said to be lost. There are two shrines present in the temple that is tranquil in use by the followers and devotees and there is a Pushkarani which is a stepped well to the right side of the chief access.

The temple is termed as a sacred house for monuments showcasing an inestimable assortment of ornaments, the doorways, the ceilings, the animals, the birds, the dancers and other figures are flatteringly tinted. These decorated figures are so charming that they give an impression of life and dynamism with a multiplicity of actions and movements. The doorways are watched over on either side by the adorned ‘Dvarapalaka,’ the doorkeepers.

Chennakesava Temple

History and Legend of Chennakesava Temple

Chennakesava Temple was custom-built by the Hoysala king himself in order to celebrate an important military triumph in 1117 A.D. There has always been a squabble in opinion among scholars about the construction of the temple and after many dilemmas, the military success of king Vishnuvardhana has been considered to be the most feasible reason for the construction of the temple. As per the legend of this temple, king Vishnuvardhana was commemorating his renowned triumph against the Chola dynasty of Tamil country in the encounter Talakad in 1116 A.D. This victory resulted in the occupation ‘Gangavadi,’ the modern southern Karnataka by the Hoysalas. Again according to the stories enclosing the temple, Vishnuvardhana’s adaptation from Jainism to Vaishnavism under the influence of Ramanujacharya is also a reason. Ramanujacharya believed that the temple is principally a Vaishnava temple. The Hoysalas were believed to have appointed a number of noted artisans and architects who enlarged a new architectural tradition named ‘Karnata Dravida tradition’ by critic Adam Hardy. All the 118 inscriptions that have been recuperated from the temple complex from the period of 1117 A.D to the 18th century provide details of the artists employed, the funding made to the temple and the renovations done during the later times.

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The Chennakesava Temple also has stone pillars extended beyond from a bulwark wall about 6 feet high to hold up the roof. The stone screens later were installed between the roof and the stockade walls thus giving the impression of walking into a covered room. Prolific sculptural adorations with some of them extremely delicate are also present covering the hall. The larger than usual inner exhibition area is also known as Navaranga is also in attendance with an extremely striking fashion. Also, the temple consists of forty monolithic pillars in stellar or circular shape that are constructed in hand-carved decorations. The supervising deity is a 6-foot tall demonstration of Lord Krishna also symbolised as Lord Keshava, an avatar of Lord Vishnu.

Significance of the Chennakesava Temple

The design of the shrine was unique and exceptional during the time and the region. The shrine is constructed in Nãgara with Stellate plan and both these facets ought to have separate discern.

The shrine also consists of images on the wall. The most remarkable and well-regarded wall images are on the two faces of the south-western corner of the shrine : the image is that of Lord Vishnu appearing in Narasimha avatara killing king Hiranyakasipu and Lord Shiva killing the elephant demon. On the northern and western sides of the temple, the images are less remarkable comparatively and portray less disparity. The notable images here are that of Lord Shiva (Bhairava), Surya, Varaha and Andhakasura.

Metaphorically, Hoysala temples are the illustration of copious Gods and assistant in a horizontal row of hefty images are usual but these are found in Belur for the first time.  Although the temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, all Gods are represented here. The architectural styles of the wall-images are not the distinctive Hoysala style of later times but clearly depicts that the style is close to the similar wall-images of modern-day temples in the extreme north of Karnataka and in bordering Maharashtra.

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The primary entrance is capped by a ‘Rayagopura’ constructed during the days of Vijayanagar  empire. Surrounded by the temple complex, the Chennakesava temple is in the centre, facing east and bordered by Kappe Channigaraya temple and a Lakshmi temple positioned on the right. At Chennakesava temple, Pujas and rituals are performedon a daily basis.

The hall also termed as Mandapa is open and previously it only had a stockade. Later on, the space between the fortification and the roof has been closed-off with splendid screens together with further adornation of the temple.

The platform also known as Jagati is an indispensable part of the over-all design of the monument. It creates a unity with the rest of the altitude because it carefully follows the contours of the shrine and the hall. Its three flights of steps add decorum to the entrances of the hall and also provide a walk away enclosing the shrine also known as Pradakshinapatha.  The shrine is also a very important shape of worship and devotees from across the world visit this temple every year.

One of the many architectural underlines of Chennakesava Temple is the 42 cohorted figurines called Madanikas or heavenly sprites which are basically figures of women in ceremonial dancing poses fastened between the roof and top section of pillar along the exterior of the walls. Among the 42 Madanikas,  38 of which are found outside while the remaining 4 figurines are located surrounding the striking Navaranga upper limit. The aspect rich sculpted stone figures are believed to be exclusive to Belur.

The rest of the major architectural emphases of Chennakesava Temple are the chain of wall-paintings on the outer wall. The lowest fresco portrays 650 charging elephants with different shapes. Their presence indicates immovability and incredible strength which are believed to be the weight lifters of the temple. The wall-paintings of lions are also seen and they depict courage. Horses are made known in the next chain and they symbolize speed. The following chain then represents bead garlands symbolizing beauty. The next chain shows small figures of women and men playing instruments and dancing. Lastly, the final chain portrays ladies in an assortment of poses.

Chennakesava Temple Timings

  • The temple is open on all days
  • Darshan timings of the temple are convenient for the visitors
  • Morning 6:00 AM to Afternoon 1:00 PM
  • Afternoon 2:30 PM to 7:30 PM
  • Evening 4:00 Pm to 8:30 PM
  • The inner sanctum of the main deity closes from 10:00 AM to 11:00AM, 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM and from 5:00PM to 6:15 PM
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Festivals celebrated at Chennakesava Temple

  • The annual festival at Chennakesava Temple is celebrated every year for 10 days commencing from 2nd January every year. The festival starts with “Dhwajarohana”and concludes with “Dhwaja Avarohana.” During the annual festival, Nayar Daiva of Ubaradka Mittoor, Ulla’s of Kukkanoor, Ulla’s of Bajapilla, Kanatthila Daiva visit to the temple to proffer special sevas to the deity. The final day of the annual festival is marked with “Dodda Darshana Bali” and “Rathothsava.” These festivals take place in the presence of a mammoth of devotees who visit the temple to offer special sevas and prayers to the deities’ taking blessings.
  • Apart from the annual festival, innumerable Poojas and Rituals are held on a regular basis. Some of them are:
  • Vishu Sankramana
  • Prathistha Mahothsava
  • Nagara Panchami
  • Chouthi and Shanivara Vratha of Simha Maasa
  • Deepavali and Navanna
  • Navarathri Pooja
  • Sankramana Pooja to Goddess Bhagavathi

How to reach :Road, Rail, Air

By Road : Buses ply on a regular basis from Bengaluru, Halebid, Hassan, Hospet, Mysore, Mangalore to Belur. These buses are directly connected to Belur.

By Rail: Hassan is about 40kms from Belur, Banavara andarasikere are the nearest railway stations to Belur.

By Air : Bangalore airport is the nearest to Belur and is about 222kms from Belur.

Where to Stay

Although there are numbers of lodging facilities available in Belur nearby Chennakesava Temple and are also affordable to stay. But the most preferred place to stay in Belur is “Hotel Mayura Velapuri,” Temple Street.

Where to eat

Belur  and the areas nearby  Belur and Chennakesava Temple consist of quite a good number of hotels and restaurants with the variety of  delicacies.

Nearby Temples

  • Hoysaleswara Temple : This temple is most commonly known as “Hoysaleshwara” or “Hoysaleshvara” and is typically dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was constructed in Halebidu during the rule of King Vishnivardhana of the Hoysala empire in the 12th The construction commenced around 1120 CE and completed in 1150 CE. For the duration of the early 14th century, Halebidu was packed and looted by Muslim invaders from northern India and the temple was ruined and neglected.
  • Halebidu Temple : Located in Hassan district, Karnataka, India. Halebidu also termed as Dorasamudra or Dwarasamudra was the majestic capital of the Hoysala empire in the 12th The city is mostly notable for the architectural styles.
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