The Vira Narayana Temple is unlike any Hoysala Temple I have seen before. It has a unique design and is fully complete. It is a trikuta temple i.e., it has three shrines but has an unusual plan. Two lateral shrines are attached to the lateral ends of a large open hall. Behind this large open hall, a complete temple with a small open hall, a closed hall and a third shrine is found. It looks like the temple was built in two stages, firstly the ekakuta with two small halls and then the vast open hall with two lateral shrines. All the shrines have a tower and a nose. The entrance to the temple complex is through a small hall with a sloping roof which reminded me of temples in Mangalore and Kerala.
The central shrine is simple, complete and undamaged. The walls are devoid of any decorative sculpture. Only the tower is decorated. The two lateral shrines identical in the sense that the sculpture, size and finishing are the same but the southern one is square and the northern one is star shaped. As a result, the towers look completely different. The lateral shrines are completely adorned with sculpture from the base to the kumbha.
The main feature of this temple is the vast open hall. There are beautifully carved elephants all along the parapet wall. According to Gerard Foekema, the author of “A Complete Guide to Hoysala Temples”, the hall is the most impressive one found in Hoysala architecture, simply because of its extensiveness.
The punishing heat did not deter me from admiring the wall images. Usual images and themes decorate the outer walls of the lateral shrines. The sculpture is also pretty good but not comparable to the ones at Belur and Halebeedu.
The crowning glory of this temple lies in the idols contained in the shrines. The central shrine has an idol of Narayana called as Vira Narayana because of a particular weapon held by Narayana. The southern shrine has an idol of Venugopala, Krishna playing the flute under a tree and the Brahmarishis, cows and gopis enjoying the music. The northern shrine houses an idol of Yoganarasimha, Narasimha in a meditative posture with Sridevi and Bhudevi on either side. Each idol is sculpted to perfection. The details, the proportions and the decorations are all perfect. I couldn’t take my eyes off the Venugopala idol. The priest told us that the ASI conducted a research and declared this idol of Venugopala as the best one in all of India!
Belavadi is just 10 km from Halebeedu. It is located on the Chikmagalur – Javagal highway and is 29 km from Chikmagalur. After the famous Hoysala temples of Belur, Halebeedu and Somnathapura, this temple is the most impressive one for a tourist visit. It also complements a visit to Belur and Halebeedu. The noteworthy element here is the architecture rather than the sculpture. Visiting this place is like doing a crash course in Hoysala Temple architecture. Even the least interested of the tourists should visit this place.
Plan a Day Trip from Bengaluru (for the casual tourist)
Bengaluru – Hassan – Dodda Gadduvalli – Belur – Halebid – Belavadi – Bengaluru
Plan a Day Trip from Bengaluru (for the really interested traveller)
Bengaluru – Nuggehalli – Koravangala – Haranahalli – Javagallu – Belavadi – Halebid- Belur – Dodda Gadduvalli – Hassan – Bengaluru