Temples of Belur and Halebid, Sakleshpur Overview

About 37 kilometres from Sakleshpur, Belur was earlier known as Velapuri according to the ancient inscriptions, and with its marvellous temples, it earned the name Dakshina Varanasi (South Varanasi). The Hoysala Temples with intricate carving and polished metalwork are dedicated to the incarnation of Lord Visnu, Chennakesava. Overlooking the Yagachi River, Chennakesava Temple with Hoysala architecture marks the victory of king Vishnuvardhana over the Cholas during 1117 CE.

There are three entrances on the star-shaped podium including the Dravidian, raja gopuram and you will find the Pushkarni (stepped well) and two shrines dedicated to Chennakesava's consorts Raganayaki and Soumyanayaki.

The Madanikas or the mythological sculptures depicting episodes from the Upanishads, Mahabharata and Ramayana are highlights of the temple along with the friezes, 48 pillars including Narasimha Pillar, the Darpana Sundari, Shantaladevi's bracket figures on the ceiling and her sculpture with hollow movable jewellery and the huge statues of gods namely Lord Vishnu are notable.

52 kilometres from Sakleshpur, Halebid or Halebidu is famous for the Hoysaleshwara Temple and Kedareshwara Temple which date back to 1121 AD. Also known as Dwarasamudra meaning the gateway to seas, Halebid earned its current name Halebidu (The Old City) after the invasion led by Malik Kafur. Surrounded by the lake, the temple complex comprises of the archaeological museum.

Hoysaleshwara Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and has shrines dedicated to Santaleshwara, Hoyasaleshwara and Vishnuvardhana's minister Ketumalla. The temple façade features carvings of birds, animals, dancing figures and other Hindu mythological episodes. Built during the rule of Ballala II, Kedareshwara Temple is also dedicated to Lord Shiva, and it features Chalukya-styled architecture with Hoysala panels and sculptures along with rows of horse, lion, elephant and Makara in the basement.

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