After our visit to Halebeedu we reached Belur in about 40 minutes.Belur is famous for the ChennaKeshava temple.The architecture of the Belur temple is similar to the Halebeedu temple.The Belur temple is built in a star-shaped form,just like the ones in Halebeedu.Here the carvings are more intricate and boast of some of the best examples of Hoysala craftsmanship.
An important observation is that these temples are built of soapstone and not stone.Another unique aspect of these temples is that the artists signed their sculptures,unlike most of their counterparts in other places in India at that time.
Story of Kappe Chennagaraya
There is an interesting story being told about the sculptor who chiselled the sculpture of ChennaKesava,the presiding deity of the Belur temple.It is said that one Jakanachari,was the sculptor-in-charge of chiselling the statue of ChennaKesava.Jakanachari was working away in Belur temple,while his family remained in his native village.Jakanachari’s son,Dakanachari grew up to be a fine young man and a great sculptor,just like his father.He came to visit his father in Belur,for the first time.Seeing the master sculptor working on the ChennaKesava idol,the young Dakanachari commented that the idol was unfit for worship.Jakanachari,infuriated at the young man’s audacity,asked him to prove it.The young visitor covered the idol with sandalwood paste and let it dry.Once dried,it was seen that there was a wet patch near the navel of the idol.When the wet spot was chiselled,it was found that there was a frog inside it.Legend has it that Jakanachari cut off his right hand as self-punishment.It was only later that the two great artists discover that they were actually father-son.A new idol was later made and installed in the main sanctum whereas Kappe(frog) Chennagaraya was placed in another sanctum near the entrance.
One of the main attractions in Belur is the 42-feet high ‘Gravity Pillar’,named so because it stands on its own weight,defying gravity.
The other attraction is the intricately carved,Narasimha Pillar.It is said that the pillar was capable of rotating on its own axis.Sadly,the rotation mechanism seems to have been damaged now.
Other famous figurines are that of the Lady with the Mirror(Darpana Sundari),the Huntress,Mohini Dance and Lady playing the Drum.There are many more intricate carvings on the walls and on the lintels.
Being an arts and history buff,the visits to Halebeedu and Belur charged me up enough. We winded up our visit to the Belur Chenna Kesava temple and proceeded to Horanadu from there.
More about my visit to Malenadu in next series of posts.
You can read my earlier posts on this topic here:
Written for Day 9 of Ultimate Blogging Challenge
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