Belur Chennakeshava Temple: Main Entrance and Facade

Main entrance and facade of the Chennakeshava Temple in Belur, Karnataka, India

Main entrance and facade of the Chennakeshava Temple in Belur,

Main entrance and facade
The Chennakeshava Temple is built on a star-shaped 4 feet high platform called Jagati. The floor of the temple is elevated, so the approach to the doorway is through two flights of steps. The first set of steps is from the ground to the platform (not visible), and the second is from the platform to the door. The flights of steps are flanked by four mini shrines, two on the floor and two on the platform. Between each shrine on the platform and the door, there is a sculpture depicting the Hoysala lānchana (emblem), which is based on a story that appears on an inscription attributed to King Vishnuvardhana and is about the founding of this dynasty.

The doorway leads to the front portion of the temple, generally known as the navaranga. The facade of the temple at the main entrance is ornate with a variety of sculptures and sculptural reliefs. As you can see from the image, the door jambs and the lintel are beautifully decorated. Carved on the bottom part of the left door jamb is Manmatha and the right door jamb is his wife Rathi. Carved on the pediment, which is above the door, is a beautiful relief of Narasimha, one of the avatars of Vishnu, carried by his vahana (vehicle), Garuda. This pediment is enclosed by a creeper disgorged by the Makaras sitting atop the beautifully crafted pilasters that are flanking the doorway. Vishnu’s vahana, Garuda, is on the roof flanked by two female figures.

Mounted on the pillars near the top but just below the eaves are the beautifully carved sculptures popularly known as the bracket figures. Check the Bracket Figures page for more info. The sculptural relief on the left jalandhra (perforated screen) depicts the court of King Vishnuvardhana, and the relief on the right jalandhra depicts the court of King Veera Ballala II.

Located 150 miles west of Bangalore in southern India, the Belur Chennakeshava Temple is a magnificent temple dedicated to Vishnu. King Vishnuvardhana of the Hoysala dynasty commissioned the temple in 1167 CE to commemorate his victory over the Cholas at Talakadu. After his death, his successors – Narasimha I and Veera Ballala II – continued the work, and it took 103 years to complete it.

Related Images
South Entrance
North Entrance
Court of Hoysala King Vishnuvardana, the builder of the Belur Chennakeshava Temple
Court of Hoysala King Vira Ballala II
Hoysala emblem on the right side of the main entrance
Hoysala emblem on the left side of the main entrance

Shilābālikes – Bracket figures mounted below the eaves
Darpana Sundari, Sukha Bhashini, Nātya Sundari, Gāna Sundari, Kesha Sundari, Tribhangi, Nagna Sundari, Kapāla Durga, Koravanji, Nātya Mohini, Betegārthi

Male Bracket Figures
Flute playing male musician
Narthaka – Davane playing male dancer
Davane playing male musician

Related Pages
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall
Somanathapura Keshava Temple – A Masterpiece of Hoysala Temple Art

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