Belavadi Veeranarayana Temple: The Hoysala Gem with 108 Lathe Turned Pillars - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Belavadi Veeranarayana Temple: The Hoysala Gem with 108 Lathe Turned Pillars

The gorgeous Veera Narayana Temple at Belavadi, Karnataka

Allow me to take you to yet another offbeat temple gem from the Hoysala era. This temple from the 13th century is a trikuta (which means it has three shrines) and it is one of the largest temples built by the Hoysala kings. It is located at the place where the Pandava prince Bheema killed the demon Bakasura to protect the villagers. On the day of the summer solstice, the rays of the morning sun fall directly on the idol of Lord Veera Narayana deep in the garbha griha.  This amazing temple that I am talking about is the Veeranarayana temple and it is located at Belavadi, a small village just a few kilometers away from the world famous temples of Halebid and Belur.

Carved elephant at Veera Narayana Temple, Belavadi

As you park your vehicle in front of the temple and by the lane of pretty little village houses, you will notice the elephants that greet you right at the temple entrance. The jagli katte (or relaxation arena) right behind these elephants is one of my favorite areas of the temple as this is where you can put your feet up, enjoy the rustic atmosphere, the cold breeze and have a nice conversation with your family and friends while being surrounded by oodles of art and culture.

108 lathe turned pillars inside Veera Narayana Temple, Belavadi, Karnataka

As you cross the jagali katte, you enter a mahadwara mantapa with a massive door. This door opens into the main temple complex where you are greeted by two more elephants, but these elephants are much larger in size and are much more ornate. 108 lathe turned pillars (some of them look like pineapples) greet you once you cross these large elephants. To your left is the shrine of Venugopala and to the right is the shrine of Yoganarasimha. And these lathe turned pillars and the two shrines together make the sabhamantapa and they then open into the mukhamantapa in the East. As you go further east, you come across some more lathe turned pillars, ornate pillars and the main shrine belonging to Lord Veeranarayana.

Just before I entered the sabhamantapa beyond the ornate elephants, I couldn’t stop but notice that this temple was not built on top of a jagati (raised platform) like the other Hoysala temples. As it predates most of the other Hoysala temples in the region, it’s architecture is quite unique.

Beautiful lathe turned pillars at Belavadi Veera Narayana temple

As you explore the temple slowly taking multiple pradakshinams (circumambulations), you will realize that this Veeranarayana temple has 3 different styles of architecture owing to its 3 different states of development.

The first part of the temple is the shrine of Veeranaryana (East facing) and the pillars around it. This part is fairly simple in terms of architecture and is devoid of any carvings on the exterior walls. Even the carvings in its interiors are limited to the roof of the sukhanasi and the prabhavali.

Intricate sculpting on the walls of Veera Narayana Temple, Belavadi

In the second phase, the shrines of Venugopala and Yoganarasimha was built. One shrine was built on a square platform, while the other is star-shaped. The pillars of this complex merge into the pillars and structure of the earlier complex, thus giving the feel of one temple, but a person with a keen eye for detail will figure out the different architectural elements. Dashaavatar (the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu) can be seen just outside the shrine of Yoganarasimaha. The exterior walls of this temple complex is covered with large size statues of Hindu gods and goddesses, stories from our mythological stories and more. Varaha avatar and Kalingamardana stand out proudly even after 800 years. The gorgeous pillars and detailed roof work are the highlights here.

In the third phase, the flat roofs of the mahadwara mantapa was built and it was made to mirror the mukha mantapa. This is the simplest part of the temple.

Stone elephants in front of Mukha mantapa of Veera Narayana Temple, Karnataka

Even though the temple was built over 3 different phases, their alignment is so precise that upon entering the temple (270 feet away from the garbha griha of Lord Veeranarayana), you can clearly see the idol of Veeranarayana. May be, that is why on the day of summer solstice, the rays of the morning sun fall directly on the idol of Veeranarayana even though he is located deep into the temple complex.

Varaha Avatar on the exterior walls of Veera Narayana Temple, Belavadi

Compared to the other modern Hoysala temples, the Veeranarayana temple at Belavadi is definitely simple when you think of intricate carvings, but its architecture is unique. It’s lathe turned pillars, pineapple pillars, bell shaped pillars, ornate elephants, roof carvings and overall large temple size make it an architectural masterpiece in the world of Hoysala temples.

Beautiful campus of Veera Narayana Temple, Belavadi, Karnataka

At just 220 kms from Bangalore, it makes for a great day trip or weekend getaway. Do visit this offbeat temple gem from the Hoysala era on your next weekend road trip from Bangalore. I am sure you will really enjoy its rustic ambience and unique architecture. I definitely recommend the Belavadi Veeranarayana temple to all art, culture and temple lovers.

Stunning carvings  at Veera Narayana Temple, Belavadi

Guide services for the temple:

There are no official guides available at this temple. However, if you strike a conversation with the temple priest, he will share a lot of details about the temple. In case the temple priest is unavailable, there is a temple caretaker from ASI who would give you some basic information about the temple.

Kalingamardana statue at Belavadi Veeranarayana Temple

How to reach there:

There are two different routes by road to approach the temple. Both of them take about 4 to 5 hours for the one way trip (about 230 kms or so).

1) Tiptur – Shimoga route: Bangalore –> Kunigal –> Yediyur –> Turuvekere –> Tiptur –> Arsikere –> Banavara –> Javagal –> Belavadi

2) Hassan route: Bangalore –> Kunigal –> Channarayapatna –> Hassan –> Halebeedu –> Belavadi

The nearest railway stations are Kadur and Birur.

The nearest airport would be Mangalore airport, but the one with the best connectivity would be Bangalore international airport.

Elephants and lathe turned pillars greet you at the entrance to Veera Narayana Temple, Belavadi, Karnataka

Temple timings:

The Veeranarayana temple at Belavadi opens at 8 AM and closes at 6 PM. The temple priest lives in the house right opposite the main temple entrance. So, you can always drop in and check in case the temple is closed.

Jagli Katte at Veera Narayana Temple, Belavadi

Where to stay:

If you wish for close proximity and something cheap, there are a lot of budget hotels in and around Belur and Halebid.

If you want something more luxurious, look up the Hoysala Village Resort between Hassan and Belur.

If you want to stay amidst nature, look up the homestays, hotels and resorts located in Chickamagaluru. Some of these would be farm stays or plantation stays.

Beautiful view of Belavadi village from the Veera Narayana Temple

Where to eat:

You cannot find anything more than biscuits and tender coconut water. If you seek some better food, you will either have to head to Belur or Halebid.

If you want high quality dining with good washrooms and ample parking space, I would recommend that you visit Hoysala Village Resort that is located between Belur and Hassan.

If you want to eat in nature, look up the restaurants in and around Chickmagalur.

Bejeweled elephant at Belavadi Veera Narayana Temple

Other offbeat Hoysala temples nearby:

1) Lakshmi Devi temple at Doddagaddavalli

2) Chenna Keshava temple at Javagal

3) Lakshmi Narasimha temple at Nuggehalli

4) Sadashiva temple at Nuggehalli

5) Brahmesvara temple at Kikkeri

6) Panchalingeswara temple at Govindanahalli

7) Lakshmi Narasimha temple at Hosaholalu

8) Chenna Keshava temple at Somnathpur

9) Chenna Keshava temple at Aralaguppe

10) Chenna Keshava temple at Turuvekere

11) Ishvara temple at Arsikere

12) Chenna Keshava temple at Anekere

13) Mallikarjuna temple at Basaralu

14) Lakshmi Narasimha temple at Haranhalli

Gorgeous elephants at the entrance of Belavadi Veera Narayana Temple

Other nearby tourist attractions:

1) Shettihalli rosary church ruins in the Hemavati reservoir

2) The hill station and coffee estates of Chickamagaluru

3) The wide Hemagiri waterfalls on the Hemavati river

4) The temple town of Melukote famous for its Iyengars and delicious Puliyogare

5) The Jain pilgrimage site of Shravanabelagola that is home to the mighty Baahubali statue

6) The hill station of Kemmangundi

7) The beautiful Hebbe Falls surrounded by coffee estates

8) The absolutely photogenic Mysore palace

9) The butterfly forest of India called Bisle Ghat

10) The world famous Hoysaleswara temple at Halebid

11) The world famous Chenna Keshava temple at Belur

12) Bhadra tiger reserve that is known for its river terns, tigers and leopards

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