chennakeshava temple

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chennakeshava temple overview

#2 of 12 Places To Visit in Belur
chennakeshava temple
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address
Belur, Karnataka, India
timings
All days of the week
7:00 AM - 8:30 PM

about chennakeshava temple

Set by the sparkling blue waters of river Yagachi in Belur, Karnataka, Chennakeshava Temple, also known as the Vijayanarayana Temple, was built as a testament to King Vishnuvardhana’s glory and power. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu and under consideration to be listed under UNESCO World Heritage sites, the emple dates back to 1117 CE and was commissioned by King Vishnuvardhana who employed a range of artisans and architects to bring the temple into existence.


Such was the architectural splendour and grandeur of Chennakeshava Temple that its completion ended up establishing a novel architectural tradition, labelled as the Karnata Dravida tradition by Adam Hardy. While certain structures in the temple’s complex were built during the times of the Vijayanagara Empire like the rajaagopura, the temple actually goes against the grain of traditional Hoysala temple architecture, that followed later, in its understated craftsmanship and has influences of Western Chalukyan traditions.


Set in the center of of the complex with the temple of Kappe Channigraya on its right and Sowmyanayaki and Ranganayaki towards the back, Chennakeshava Temple has been sculpted out of soapstone. Once upon a time its elaborately carved mandap, with exquisitely carved onto pillars was open and you could have seen it from the open platform. About 50 years after its establishment, the mandap was surrounded by walls punctuated with 28 window screens that have bands carved with images of foliages and mythological creatures, and one of them actually has the image of King Vishnuvardhana and Shantala Devi, his queen.


The 48 pillars in the mandapa, particularly the Narasimha Pillar and the four in the center with the ceiling they support are in fact an attraction in and of themselves, carved as they are with shilabalika, the ideal female forms, depicting women in various forms such as dancers, musicians and drummers.


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