Beluru (Belur), capital of the Hoysala Empire

Beluru was the capital of the early Hoysala Empire. The town’s main attraction is Chennakeshava Temple, a Hindu temple which, like those at Halebid and Somnathpur, reflects the excellence and ingenuity of the Hoysala temple builders.

The entrance to the temple is a gopuram (tower) in Dravidian style. This was added later by the Vijayanagar kings, who regarded Vishnu as their patron saint. A stepwell or pushkarani can be seen to the right.

The main sanctuary, the Chennakeshava temple at the centre of the complex, still functions. It is dedicated to the god Vishnu (Chennakeshava means “handsome Vishnu”). The temple was commissioned by the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana in 1117 CE.

This sanctuary is particularly noteworthy. The entrance is intricately carved and flanked by life-size statues of the temple guardians (dvarapalaka). On the altar stands a 6-foot statue of Vishnu, holding an attribute in each of his four hands: disk (chakra), sceptre (gadha), lotus flower (padma) and conch shell (shanka).

Around the Chennakeshava temple are three less important temples:

  • Kappe Chennigraya, built by Shantaladevi, wife of King Vishnuvardhana. It houses a statue of Keshava, one of the forms of Lord Krishna.
  • Sowmyanayaki, dedicated to Lakshmi, Hindu goddess of prosperity.
  • Ranganayaki, dedicated to the saint and poetess Andal, who was a Vishnu worshipper.