The historic town Belur, one of the monuments of Karnataka, is beautifully set on banks of Yagachi river, amidst lush surroundings, in Hassan district of Karnataka. It was formerly known as Velapuri and was chosen as the alternate capital city by the Hoysala’s after the ransacking and destruction of their then capital Dwarasumudra (now known as Halibeedu or Halibidu) by the sultans of the Northern India.
Hoysalas ruled the Deccan and the parts of present day Tamilnadu, between 11th and 13th Centuries. The Hoysala dynasty is said to have been named after the words ‘Hoy Sala’- Hoy means ‘Strike’, Sala is the name of a legendary leader called ‘Sala’. Sala is said to have killed a lion which was ready to pounce on a meditating Guru Sudatta Muni who in turn blessed him by giving him the power to rule. By virtue of this heroic act he becomes the leader of the tribe and gradually emerges as the king. The Sala symbol was King Vishnuvardhana’s creation and became the Hoysala symbol or crest, from his time.
The Hoysala Crest
The main entrance to the Chennakesava temple complex is crowned by an ornate gopuram or tower, built in the Vijayanagara style. Within the complex, the main temple of Chennakesava lies in the centre, facing east, flanked on its right by the Kappe Chennigaraya temple, and a small Lakshmi shrine. Set back on its left is an Andal or Ammanavara temple. There are two graceful Garuda sthambhas, or pillars, in the main courtyard. The sthambha facing the main temple was built in the Vijayanagara period, and the one to the right of the temple was built by the Hoysalas.
Being patrons or art and architecture, during their 300 year reign Hoysalas have built numerous temples and monuments. Belur is the best of the Hoysala creation. The magnificent monument of Belur, the awesome architecture and splendid sculptures makes it heaven on earth, therefore called the ‘modern Vaikuntha (heaven) on earth’
Belur and Halibeedu are Jewels in the Indian cultural heritage.
Myths and Legend
King Vishnuvardhana is supposed to have dreamt about Lord Chennakesava while on a night stay in Baba Budan Forest decided to construct the temple at Belur. By doing so he unwitting separated the Lord from his consort living in the forest of Baba Budan. It’s believed that the lord visits his consort daily, therefore the local cobbler community presents s fresh pair of sandals daily and it disappears by night after being presented to the lord.
Yagachi Water Sports
Yagachi Dam is one of the prime attractions of Belur, located at a distance of 45 km from Hassan District. The dam was built in the year 2004 with the main objective of meeting drinking water and irrigation requirements of Hassan, Chikmagalur and Belur districts. A wide reservoir, which lies at an elevation of 965 feet above sea level, has been constructed across Yagachi River (a tributary of Kaveri River). The outflow of the water in Yagachi Dam is 4300 causes and inflow is about 4500 causes.
Recently, Yagachi Water Adventure Sports Centre was set up in backwaters of this dam in order to attract maximum tourists. Therefore, travellers can undertake various water sports activities here, namely banana boat ride, cruise boat, speed boat, kayaking, jet skiing and bumper rides, to mention a few. Apart from these activities, this place is ideal for tourists who are looking forward to spend time amidst peaceful surroundings.