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Temples of Hoysala Empire in Karnataka - Part 1

India is a land of history. The traditions and culture is extremely rich here. One such pride is Hoysala Empire who ruled the land of Southern parts of India for about 300 years. They were great patrons of art and architecture. They have left behind their imprints in the form of beautiful temple monuments.

Read about the tour to Hoysala Temples - Day 1


Hoysala (Hoy - Sala)

The literal meaning is Sala striking a beast. Hoy means Strike. Sala is the name of the leader. It is believed that Sala striked the lion which was about to attack his meditation guru. Sala went on to become the first ruler of the Hoysala dynasty.

This brave act of Sala is created in sculpture and it is the symbol of Hoysala Dynasty.


The Hoysala Symbol
 The Hoysala Symbol


Hoysalas reigned for close to 300 years in the southern parts of India. They were a great patron of art and architecture and thus have built many magnificent temple monuments. Belur is considered to be the best among all the temples of Hoysala. Belur and Halebidu are the famous temples and well known to all in the present time.

However there are many more temple scattered around in many villages. Like  Doddagaddavalli, Belavadi, Hulikere, Javagal, Arasikere, Harnahalli, Hosaholalu, Aralaguppe, Kikkeri, Govindanahalli, Nuggehalli, Koravangala, Mosale, and many more.

1. Chennakeshava Temple, Belur

Belur is a small town in the district of Hassan, Krnataka. Belur is located on the bank of river Yagachi. Belur is visited for the beautiful magbificent temple of Lord Chennakeshava. This temple was built by King Vishnuvardhana of Hoysala Dynasty. 


Belur Chennakeshava Temple
 Chennakeshava Temple, Belur

The main entrance of Belur Chennakeshava temple is glorified with the Gopura (temple tower).


Belur Chennakeshava Temple Gopura


Chennakeshava temple shrine is the main temple, apart from this there are several smaller shrines around the main shrine. Chennakeshava temple is a house for a variety of sculptures and art, the ornates, the dancers, the floral patterns, animals, the towers. The temple has dwarapalakas (gaurds) too.


Belur Chennakeshava Temple walls

Belur Temple wall sculptures


Stories from puranas and Upanishads are also depicted in the form of artistic sculptures.


Purana sculptures at Belur temple
 Narasimha avatar slaining the demon Hiranyakashipu. 
Small intestine of the demon is worn as garland by Narasimha.

Shiva Parvathi Belur temple sculptures
 Shiva Parvathi Sculptures at Belur Temple

purana stories hoysala temple sculpture


The feminine form sculptures on the exterior wall of the temple are the inspiration of the beautiful Queen Shantaladevi. The main highlight is Darpana Sundari (means beauty with the mirror). 


Belur Temple Darpana Sundari

Darpana Sundari Belur Chennakeshava temple
 Darpana Sundari (Lady with the mirror)


There are more to notice, the lady drummer, the lady and the monkey, the huntress, the lady with the flute (muralidhare), thandaveshwari, the beautiful dancer Natya Mayuri Shanthaladevi.


feminine beauties on the temple walls

sculptures hoysala belur temple

Natyamayuri shanthaladevi belur temple
 Natyamayuri Shanthaladevi

The temple premesis also holds a Kalyani. Kalyani is a stone stepped well. This well is used on various festive occasions.

How to reach Belur?

  • By road: Many buses ply to and from various other cities.
  • Distance from Belur to
  • Bangalore, 220 Kms
  • Hassan, 40 Kms
  • Mangalore, 125 Kms
  • By train: Nearest railway station is Hassan, about 40 km from Belur.
  • By airways: Nearest airport is Bangalore, about 220 Kms.
  • Our route (by road): We came via Kudremukh Ghats National Park arrived at Chickamagalur. Chickamagalur to Belur

2. Veera Narayana Temple, Belavadi

Belavadi is a small village in Chickamagalur district in Karnataka. Veera Narayana Temple in Belavadi is a finest example for the Hoysala Temple structure. It is a beautiful ornate temple with three shrines; Sri Veera Narayana in the centre, Sri Venugopala and Sri Yoganarasimha on either sides. 


Veeranarayana temple Belavadi

Tour in india belavadi temple tower
 Close up of Vimana of the temple at Belavadi. 

Vimana is a term referring to shirne and the tower. The temple has outer and inner mantapas. 


india tour belavadi temple
 Mantapa, Veeranarayana temple, Belavadi


ornate pillar at belavadi temple
 Decorative pillar in the Inner Mantapa 

ceiling designs at Belavadi temple
The ceiling designs in the temple

The temple exterior wall depicts stories of vishnu avataras, parvathi, ganesha, and all other.

How to reach Belavadi?

Belavadi is just 10 km from Halebeedu.
Our route (by road):

  • Belur to Halebeedu, about 17 km.
  • Halebeedu to Belavadi, about 10 km.
There is no accommodation facility in Belavadi. The nearest place of Belur or Halebeedu  or Hassan has good accommodation facilities.

3. Lakshmi Devi Temple, Doddagaddavalli

Doddagaddavalli is a small hamlet/village in Hassan District. Lakshmi Devi Temple is the attraction of the village. This temple is known to be one of the earliest among the Hoysala temple. This temple was built by King Vishnuvardhana of Hoysala Empire. 


lakshmi devi temple karnataka


Lakshmi Devi Temple is a Chatuskuta temple, that is 4 shrined temple. The presiding deities being wordhipped are Lakshmi, Mahakali, Shiva & Kalabhairava.


Doddagaddavalli lake karnataka tourism


The scenic beauty of the trees and field around the temple adds to the beauty of the temple. There is also a lake surrounding this temple.


Betal at lakshmidevi temple doddagaddavalli


Two Betal, human sized images (living skeletons) stand as the guardians on either side of the Kali shrine. Note the  protruding tongue, the chopped head in the left hand and the machete in the right hand.

How to reach Doddagaddavalli?

It is located 16 km from Hassan. The best way to locate Doddagaddavalli is that it lies in the route of highway connecting Hassan and Belur.
Our route: 
  • Belavadi to Halebeedu (10 km)
  • Halebeedu to Doddagaddavalli (18 km)
There is no lodging in the village of Doddagaddavalli. So, Halebeedu or Hassan is the next destination to halt.

Read about the tour to Hoysala Temples - Day 1


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