Belooru, Baylore, Beluru
|Elevation||979 m (3,212 ft)|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (IST)|
|ISO 3166 code||IN-KA|
|Vehicle registration||KA-13/ KA-46|
Belur (IPA: [beːluːru]) is a town and taluk in Hassan district in the state of Karnataka, India. The town is renowned for its Chennakeshava Temple dedicated to Vishnu, one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture and the largest Hindu temple complex that has survived from pre-14th-century Karnata-Dravida tradition. A historic site inspired by the teachings of Ramanujacharya, it has been a Vaishnava Hindu pilgrimage center since at least the 12th century. It was also the first capital of the Hoysala dynasty, before they built Dwarasamudra (modern Halebid).
Belur is situated on the banks of Yagachi River in the Hassan district of south Karnataka. It is about 40 kilometres (25 mi) northwest of Hassan and about 16 kilometres (10 mi) west from the famous Hindu and Jain temples in Halebid. The town is about 200 kilometres (124 mi) west of Bengaluru (IATA Code: BLR), about a 3.5 hours drive accessible with a four lane NH75 highway through Hassan. Hassan and Chikmagalur are the closest cities near Belur that are connected by a railway network to major cities of Karnataka. Belur has an elevation of 979 metres (3,212 ft) above mean sea level, making it the highest town in Hassan district. NH-73, its subsidary NH-373, SH-57, SH-110 & SH-112 pass through the town of Belur.
There are regular buses to Belur from Bengaluru (222 km), Chikmagalur (25 km), Halebidu (16 km), Kadur (62 km), Hassan (40 km), Hospet (330 km), Mangalore (124 km), Mysore (149 km), Shivamogga (132 km) to Belur. Belur is a small town and most hotels are near Chikmagalur and Hassan city on the Belur road (State Highway 57), Halebidu road (State Highway 21).
Belur is near the foothills east of the Western Ghats, at an altitude of 3,200 feet. It and the nearby Halebidu are well connected to northern Karnataka, western Andhra Pradesh and northern Tamil Nadu. Around this region, between the 10th and 14th century, the Hoysaḷa dynasty came to power, whose history is unclear. By their own 11th and 12th-century inscriptions, they were descendants of the Krishna-Baladeva-roots and the Yadavas of Maharashtra. They married into the Kalyana Chalukya Hindu dynasty, known for its temple and art tradition. The reliability of these inscriptions have been questioned as potential mythistory by some historians, who propose that the Hoysalas were a local Hindu family – a hill chief from the Western Ghats remembered for having killed a tiger or a lion, and they seized power and over time expanded their territory starting in the 10th century.
Belur was the early capital of the Hoysala Empire in the 11th-century, before they built Dorasamudra (modern Halebid). According to inscriptions discovered here, it was called Velur or Velapuri during the Hoysala era. Belur remained a laternate capital through the 14th century. The city was esteemed by the Hoysalas, and they referred to it as "earthly Vaikuntha" (Vishnu's abode) and "Dakshina Varanasi" (southern holy city of Hindus) in later inscriptions. In early 12th-century, the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana met the Hindu philosopher Ramanujacharya – famed for his ideas on Sri Vaishnavism. Belur's profile rose thereafter, becoming a Vaishnava temples and monasteries town. It has remained a Vaishnava Hindu pilgrimage center.
Belur is home to several monuments:
- Chennakeshava Temple, Belur – a large Vishnu-related Hoysala Hindu temples complex from the early 12th century. The main temple was originally called the Vijaya-Narayana temple built by the king, which is surrounded by many smaller temples built by a Hoysala queen, generals and merchants of Hoysalas, an attached monastery, Brahmins residences, a simple pushkarini (temple water tank), a pilgrim's choultry, kitchen and grains storage. The towering Belur gopura is visible from a distance.
- Sankaresvara temple – the oldest temple in Belur, predates the Vishnuvardhana's Chennakeshava temples complex. Also called Shankaralingeshwara temple, dedicated to Shiva, it is about 400 metres (1,300 ft) northwest of the Chennakeshava temple gopura. The temple has a phamsana style shikara, square architectural plan, notable sukhanasi, much simpler artwork, with ruins of its mandapa scattered nearby.
- Pathaleshwara Temple – a small Hoysala style Shiva temple with fine artwork, about 600 metres (2,000 ft) east of the Chennakeshava temple gopura.
- Amrutheswara temple ruins – a temple with a large temple tank, it was restored and expanded with a mandapa during the Vijayanagara-Nayaka period, but damaged and its parts scattered after the fall of Vijayanagara. The temple is about 800 metres (2,600 ft) south of the Chennakeshava temple gopura. It provides a contrast between the Hoysala and Vijayanagara architectural styles.
- World heritage and tourism
- Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebidu: it is 16 km from Belur, was capital of Hoysala and it was formerly called as Dwarasamudra. It has another famed collection of Hindu and Jain temples showing 12th century Hoysala architecture and artwork.
- Bucesvara Temple, Koravangala – a twin temple near Hassan city that synthesizes the pre-Hoysala traditions of Hindu architecture, includes artwork from all three major Hindu traditions
- Nageshvara-Chennakeshava Temple complex, Mosale – another major temple complex near Hassan city that presents Shaivism and Vaishnavism traditions together
- Veera Narayana Temple, Belavadi – a major three sanctum temples complex, about 25 kilometers from Belur, with beautiful carvings, preserved Vesara superstructure and a galaxy of artwork from all Hindu traditions
- Lakshminarasimha Temple, Javagal – a triple sanctum shrine from the 13th century, with a galaxy of artwork from all Hindu traditions; A Vesara architecture, where the aedicule on the outer walls show many major variants of Dravida and Nagara shikhara (superstructure) styles; it is about 25 kilometres (16 mi) northeast from Belur.
- Lakshminarasimha Temple, Haranhalli – another triple sanctum 13th-century Hindu temple, with a complex two-storey Vesara-architecture, dedicated to Vishnu avatars, but includes major reliefs of Shaivism and Shaktism; about 45 kilometres (28 mi) northeast from Belur.
- Ishvara Temple, Arasikere – a Vesara and Hoysala architecture Hindu temple for Shiva that illustrates the dome-style Hindu architecture for mandapa built about a hundred years before the first invasion of Delhi Sultanate and the start of Deccan version of the Indo-Islamic architecture. It is about 60 kilometers east of Belur.
- Lakshmi Devi Temple, Doddagaddavalli – one of the earliest Hoysala temples, four sanctums and beautifully carved
- Shravanabelagola, Channarayapatna: a major group of many Jain and Hindu monuments; it is about 75 kilometres (47 mi) southeast from Belur on National Highway 75, one of the most important Digambara Jainism pilgrimage site in South India.
- Nuggehalli group of temples – about 80 kilometers to the east of Belur, with an ingenious structure that makes three sanctums appear as one sanctum from outside; a Vesara architecture from the 13th-century
- Kesava Temple, Somanathapura: it is about 180 kilometres (110 mi) southeast from Belur, another site of a major 13th century Hoysala temple and arts dedicated to Krishna and other forms of Vishnu.
- Madhusudan A. Dhaky; Michael Meister (1996). Encyclopaedia of Indian Temple Architecture, Volume 1 Part 3 South India Text & Plates. American Institute of Indian Studies. pp. 295–302, 313–315. ISBN 978-81-86526-00-2.
- Permanent Delegation of India to UNESCO (2014), Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysala, UNESCO
- V. K. Subramanian (2003). Art Shrines of Ancient India. Abhinav Publications. pp. 75–77. ISBN 978-81-7017-431-8.
- Katherine E. Kasdorf (2013), Forming Dōrasamudra: Temples of the Hoysaḷa Capital in Context, Columbia University Press, pp. 42–49
- Fischel, F.R.S. (2020). Local States in an Imperial World: Identity, Society and Politics in the Early Modern Deccan. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 34–39. ISBN 978-1-4744-3609-0.
- Madhusudan A. Dhaky; Michael Meister (1996). Encyclopaedia of Indian Temple Architecture, Volume 1 Part 3 South India Text & Plates. American Institute of Indian Studies. pp. 295–302. ISBN 978-81-86526-00-2.
- Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. pp. 58–60. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4.
- Narasimhacharya 1987, pp. 1–2.
- Madhusudan A. Dhaky; Michael Meister (1996). Encyclopaedia of Indian Temple Architecture, Volume 1 Part 3 South India Text & Plates. American Institute of Indian Studies. pp. 300–302. ISBN 978-81-86526-00-2.
- Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam (ed.). India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 174.
- Madhusudan A. Dhaky; Michael Meister (1996). Encyclopaedia of Indian Temple Architecture, Volume 1 Part 3 South India Text & Plates. American Institute of Indian Studies. pp. 319–321. ISBN 978-81-86526-00-2.
- M.H. Krishna (1966). K.A. Nilakanta Sastri (ed.). The history of the Sri Vijayanarayana Temple of Belur (Mysore State). The Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.
- Narasimhacharya, Ramanujapuram (1987). The Kesava Temple at Belur. Asiatic Society. OCLC 37520409.
- Belur travel guide from Wikivoyage