Not sure how many times the trip was planned and cancelled in the past. It was on the list for a long time, and interest accrued everytime i stumbled upon some photos in the web. Everytime a plan was made, there was a reason to cancel it as well. This time we planned it on Friday evening and started on friday night. Plan was simple, catch the last bus to Belur in the night, spend time in the temples the next day and reach bangalore before 9PM. Surprisingly we were able to execute it without hiccups. Boarded the 11.30PM bus to chickmagalur and reached Belur by 4.30AM with very little sleep. Ambled through the streets searching for a lodge, found most of them closed. After a while checked into a not so good room utilized the 1hour we had for a nap.
Went early to the ChennaKeshava temple and were able to attended the first pooja that was happening there. After that we had the whole day to soak ourselves in the aesthetic beauty of the two masterpieces of the hoysala architecture. The temples are built using soapstones. The outer and inner walls of these star shaped temples were filled with numerous intricate carvings, notable ones a.k.a the ones that we recongnised, include Lord Narasimha tearing Hiranyakashipu, Gajasurasamhara, Vishnu's varaha avatar, Arjun in his suyamvaram etc. With careful and patient observation one might be able to discover a lot of details in the sculptures. No wonder it took more than a century to build it. Might have been more appealing if they were not destroyed during invasions. The outer walls also houses 38 madhanikas statues or women statues. Each of the madhanikas strike a different pose. There are around 644 elephants on the outer walls and it is said each one is distinct. There is also a huge pillar that is not fixed to the ground but stands on its weight for centuries. There are three more temples in the same complex - Kappe Channigraya temple, Sowmyanayaki temple and an Andal temple. Spent few hours filling the camera's memory card and then started to Halebidu, to visit the Hoysaleshwara and Kedareshwara temple.
They live upto the expectations that you have set from seeing the chennakeshava temples. The base of the temple walls consist of moldings with friezes that consist of elephants, lions, scrolls, horses, scrolls, puranic scenes, mythical beasts (makara) and swans. You can see some sculptures that were in chennakeshava temple as well, but that would not act as a deterrent to explore the other sculptures. A slight drizzle did disturb a bit, but it did set expectations if we are to attempt a trek in mullayanagiri or kemmanagundi. After few hours in the temple, started the journey back and reached as planned. Overall a nice trip that went fine with little planning.
Photos @ Picasa