Belur-Halebid

Belur is located in Hassan district of Karnataka and Halebid is around 16 km from Belur. These two tiny beautiful heritage towns and are home to several exquisite temples which reveal the artistry of Indian sculptors and the mastery of the temple builders. The temples of Belur & Halebid are magnificently done up with intricate carvings and fine architecture. The main attraction in Belur is the Chennakesava temple complex dedicated to Chennakeshava, meaning handsome Vishnu as the center piece and surrounded by the Kappe Chennigraya temple built by Shantaladevi, queen of king Vishnuvardhana. The bracketed figurines called the Madanikas or celestial nymphs are no doubt the highlight of the temple’s magnificent architecture. The Madanikas are inspired by the beautiful Shantaladevi, epitomizing the ideal feminine form. There are 48 pillars of various sizes and designs, all bearing stunning artistry. The main highlight of the temple is Darpana Sundari or “The lady with the mirror”.

Weather

It can get a little hot in the afternoons during summer as the temperature remains between 29ºC and 39ºC.

During the monsoon season the twin towns receive plentiful of rain thus creating a green cover like an emerald.

Winter season is pleasant here as the minimum temperature remains around 24ºC and December being the coolest month.

The best time to visit Belur and Halebid is between the months of October and April when the weather is pleasant enough to enjoy the outdoors.

If you are visiting Belur and Halebid in the month of March then don’t miss the popular Hoysala Mahotsava or Hoysala Festival that is celebrated with pomp and gaiety.

How to Reach

The nearest airport is at Bangalore (222 km) from where it is about 4 hours by road to Belur, and another 20 minutes to Halebid.

The nearest railway station is at Hassan (38 km, 1 hour). There are trains to Hassan from all over the state.

Belur and Halebid are well connected by road. Belur is at a distance of 222 km from Bangalore, 194 km from Mangalore, 149 km from Mysore and 38 km from Hassan.

Key attractions/Sightseeing

Sightseeing in Belur & Halebid is all about visiting ancient temples scattered around and admiring their architecture.

Chenakeshava Temple: Belur boasts of the spectacular Chenakeshava temple which is believed to have taken over 103 years to build. When you walk around admiring the impossibly intricate carvings and look at the attention to detail, you will not be surprised by this length of time. Belur truly presents some of the best and most refined Hindu art and architecture. The finely detailed carvings and sculptures at the Chenakeshava temple depict episodes from the epics, battle scenes and some beautiful dancers. Each of the 42 ”madanikas” or celestial dancers carved here which make for some interesting sights in Belur and Halebid, are believed to have been inspired by Queen Shantala Devi, the epitome of beauty. Such was the wizardry of the Hoysala sculptors that the earrings on the lobes of the dancers rotate and water-droplets appear to be clinging to their hair. The temple has carvings of over 650 elephants, each one differing from the other. This temple that took over a century to create still has daily prayer offerings. Most of the superstructure has collapsed but the interiors with their fascinating columns and intricately carved brackets are simply awe-inspiring. The gopuram (tower) has sensual carvings of dancing girls that could rival anything in Khajuraho.

Two other comparatively minor temples in Belur are the Viranarayan and the Chennigaraya, both finely sculptured and from the Hoysala times are other interesting options for sightseeing in Belur & Halebid.

Hoysaleshwara Temple: Halebid is home to the grand Hoysaleshwara Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, the largest of the Hoysala temples. Comprising of two shrines, both dedicated to Lord Shiva, and decorated with rather big Nandi bulls facing the entrance, this temple was never really completed in spite of the 87 years spent in its construction. Begun in 1121, this temple on a star-shaped platform has beautifully carved detailed depictions of scenes from the epics, of mythical figures and sculptures of much of the Hindu divine pantheon. Though the superstructure was never completed, every inch of the existing structure is covered with intricate painstakingly carved sculptures. This labor of love is truly awe-inspiring.

The Kedareshwara Temple and the Jain Bastis (temples) also deserve a visit.

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