The towns of Belur and Halebidu are located in the Hassan district of Karnataka. These twin cities are around 17 km apart and together are the most popular tourist destinations in South India. These cities were home to the Hoysala dynasty for three centuries. The Belur and Halebidu temples are cut from chloritic schist – a soft stone allowing for intricately carved temple walls.
Architectural Splendour of the Belur and Halebidu Temples
The Belur and Halebidu temple architecture offers a glimpse of Hindu temple architecture during the 16th century. The Hoysala architects created a better version of the Chalukyan style of architecture by creating temples that were extremely ornate. In fact, they built several temples across Karnataka that are still known for wall sculptures, carved pillars etc. The sculptures of these temples reflect the tradition of sandalwood and ivory handwork. In fact, the intricacy of the carvings can be compared only to the Khajuraho temples. The engineering techniques used to build the temple are also interesting.
Temples in Belur
Belur is known as Vaikuntha or Paradise on earth. There are many temples in this culturally rich town.
Chenna Kesava Temple
Dedicated to Lord Vijayanarayana, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, this temple was built by King Vishnuvardhana to commemorate the victory of Hoysalas over the Cholas in the Talakkad Battle. The Belur Chennakeshava temple has exquisite carvings displaying scenes from epics like the Mahabharata, Ramayana, etc.
Kappe Chennigaraya Temple
This is a small shrine located at the south end of the main Chenna Kesava Temple. It has a resemblance to the main temple and is dedicated to Kappe (frog) Chennigaraya.
Veeranarayana Temple, Belavadi
This temple is located at the west end of the Chenna Kesava Temple. It is dedicated to Veeranarayana or Lakshmi Narayana.
Temples in Halebidu
Halebidu, also known as Dwarasamudra, was the capital city of the Hoysalas. This place is famous for the temples built during the Hoysala rule.
The Hoysaleswara Temple Halebidu is dedicated to Lord Shiva and was built in the 12th century. It stands on the banks of the Dwarasamudra Lake in Halebidu. This is the most significant monument dedicated to Lord Shiva in South India. The Halebidu Hoysaleswara Temple was designed by the famous Shilpkar Kedoraja with beautiful wall sculptures depicting stories of different gods and Hoysala soldiers. The temple has two shrines – one dedicated to Hoysaleswara and the other to Shantaleswara (or Shantala Devi, the queen of King Vishnuvardhana).
At a short walk from the Hoysaleswara Temple is a group of three Jain shrines called Basadi Halli. The shrines are the Parswanathaswamy temple, Adinathaswamy temple, and the Shanthinathaswamy temple. They are famous for the pillars that are polished so well that they resemble mirrors.
This is another temple in Halebidu dedicated to Lord Shiva depicted in the form of Shivalinga of Krishnashikla, a black stone. The temple was built in 1319 AD using Chalukyan-style architecture. In the basement of the structure, you can find sculptured friezes depicting stories from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, etc.
How to Reach Belur and Halebidu from Bangalore
When traveling from Bangalore, Halebidu falls before Belur. Here is how you can reach Belur and Halebidu from Bangalore:
Belur and Halebidu do not have a railway station. Hassan is the nearest railway station at a distance of around 40 km from Belur. Halebidu is a little closer with the distance being only 32 km. There are around 79 trains from Bangalore to Hassan. The fastest train is the Yesvantpur – Danapur One Trip Summer Special (via Ballari) that takes around two hours. Once you reach the Hassan Railway Station, you can book a taxi from Hassan to Belur or Halebidu.
The distance by road from Bangalore to Halebidu is around 210 km via NH75. You can drive or hire a chauffeur-driven Bangalore to Belur and Halebidu taxi and enjoy the scenic roadtrip.
There is no airport in Belur and Halebidu. Bangalore, Mysore, and Mangalore are the three closest airports to these twin towns. You can book a Bangalore airport taxi to reach Belur and Halebidu.
How to Reach Belur and Halebidu from Mysore
Belur and Halebidu are at a similar distance from Mysore. Here are different ways in which you can reach Belur and Halebidu from Bangalore:
Belur and Halebidu do not have a railway station. Hassan is the nearest railway station at a distance of around 40 km from Belur. Halebidu is a little closer with the distance being only 32 km. There are around 17 trains from Mysore to Hassan. The fastest train is the Mysuru – Talguppa Intercity Express that takes around two hours. Once you reach the Hassan Railway Station, you can book a taxi from Hassan to Belur or Halebidu.
The distance by road from Mysore to Belur and Halebidu is around 140-150 km via the Mysore-Hassan Road. You can drive or hire a chauffeur-driven Mysore to Belur and Halebidu taxi and enjoy the journey.
There is no airport in Belur and Halebidu. Bangalore, Mysore, and Mangalore are the three closest airports to these twin towns. You can book a Mysore airport taxi to reach Belur and Halebidu.
How to Reach Belur and Halebidu from Mangalore
Belur is closer to Mangalore than Halebidu. Here are different ways in which you can reach Belur and Halebidu from Mangalore:
Belur and Halebidu do not have a railway station. Hassan is the nearest railway station at a distance of around 40 km from Belur. Halebidu is a little closer with the distance being only 32 km. There are around 13 trains from Mangalore to Hassan. The fastest train is the Karwar – Yesvantpur Express (via Mangaluru) that takes around 5 hours and 15 minutes. Once you reach the Hassan Railway Station, you can book a taxi from Hassan to Belur or Halebidu.
There is no airport in Belur and Halebidu. Bangalore, Mysore, and Mangalore are the three closest airports to these twin towns. You can book a Mangalore airport taxi to reach Belur and Halebidu.
Places to see in Belur and Halebidu
Here are some Belur Halebidu places to visit:
1. Chenna Kesava Temple
The most popular temple in Belur is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The Chennakeshava temple in Belur known for its intricate carvings made using soft stone called chloritic schist. There is a Gravity Pillar in the middle of the courtyard. It is 42 meters tall and stands without any additional foundation – a testament to the Belur temple architectural skills of the Hoysala.
Best Time to Visit Chenna Kesava Temple
The best time to visit the Chenna Kaseva Temple is during the winter months from October to March.
How to reach Chenna Kesava Temple
You can reach the Chenna Kesava Temple by following the NH73 and then taking the Temple Road. It is around 3 km from the Belur Bus Depot.
The village of Doddagaddavalli is popular as the home of the 1114AD-built Laksmidevi Temple. The temple has clear reflections of the rule of King Vishnuvardana. It is built using soapstone and stands independently of a platform. There are shrines of Lakshmi, Shiva, Vishnu, and Kali in the temple.
Best Time to VisitDoddagaddavalli
The best time to visit Doddagaddavalli is from the winter months from October to March.
How to reach Doddagaddavalli
Doddagaddavalli is located at a distance of around 25 km from Belur.
What is the best time to visit Belur and Halebidu temples
The best times to visit Belur and Halebidu temples are from October to March. The temperatures during these months range between 22 and 31 degrees C. During the summer months of March to June, the temperatures can rise to 40 degrees C. While the temples look clean and fresh after monsoon rains, the downpour can disrupt your travel plans.
Importance of a Guide during your Visit
Every sculpture in a Belur Halebidu temple has a mythological story. Without a guide, you will not be able to appreciate the significance of each sculpture.
Although you can read about it online, a local guide can take you through the temples explaining every bit in great detail.
If you don’t know the local language, then it is important to ensure that you find a guide who knows your language.
A knowledgeable Belur Halebidu temple guide can help you relive the bygone era and create memories for years to come.
Belur and Halebidu Timings and Entry Fees
The Chenna Kesava Temple at Belur is open from 7.30 AM to 8 PM on all days of the week. There is no entry fee.
Things to Do around Belur and Halebidu
Trek the Baba Budan Hills.
Visit the Nageshwara, Chennakeshave temple complex in Mosale. This is at a distance of around 13 km from Belur.
During March and April, attend the grand festival of music and dance called Hoysalamahotsava held in Belur and Halebidu.
Tour Belavadi which is at a distance of around 30 km from Belur. It is believed that Bhima of the epic Mahabharata killed Bakasura at this location.
Visit the archaeological museum in Halebidu.
Things to shop in Belur and Halebidu
Belur and Halebidu are well-known for carvings of artifacts and small statues made by locals. You can buy them outside most temples.
Best Place to Eat in Belur and Halebidu
Here are some places to eat in Belur and Halebidu:
Shahi Chicken Kabab, Near Belur Bus Stand – for finger-licking kebabs
Hotel Samanvi International, Temple Road – for Indian food and a great place to hang out
Lassi Pluss, Temple Road – for lassi, juices, and fresh fruits
Indian Coffee House, Temple Road – Indian food and a collection of delicious coffee
Best Places to Stay in Belur and Halebidu
Here are some places to stay in Belur and Halebidu:
KSTDC Hotel Mayura Velapuri Belur, Temple Road
KSTDC Hotel Mayura Yagachi, Chickamangaluru Road
KSTDC Hotel Mayura Shantala Halebeedu
Berry Blossom, Ballavara Village
CoffeeBean Villa, Bangalore-Mangalore Highway
About the author
Reading between lines - the ones that rhyme, on a journey with no stop sign.