HistoryHoysala DynastyKarnataka

Belavadi – the Hoysala Trail continues ..

My tryst with the Hoysalas continues. It was a hot Saturday afternoon and my aunt and I had a couple of hours on us. My uncle had excited us about a temple built around a “syambu pulaiyar “ ( An idol of Ganesha or Ganapathi is said to have been carved by itself) in a small hamlet called Belavadi . And I had heard of a Veera Narayana Temple , built by the Hoysalas in Belavadi .

The most obvious destination from Belur should have been Halebeedu, the capital of the Hoysalas after Belur . However the excitement in discovering something new took us to Belavadi and we planned to return to Halebeedu if time permits .

I had first heard of Belavadi as a suffix – as a surname attached to several people I knew and I have heard of. Later I was told that it was near Javagal..another hamlet prefixed to the name of India’s famous fast bowler- “Javagal” Srinath . Many people here still have the custom of their native village attached to their names, as a prefix or a suffix- an unique identity perhaps ..These were my thoughts as we were cruising down the highway from Belur to Belavadi.

It was noon when we reached this hamlet and we were greeted by silence. A few cows had strayed on to the road and a couple of shops were open..We asked for directions to go to the Veera Narayana Temple and a little detour took us right to the portals of the temple. As Belavadi is not in the tourist circuit, we were not surprised to find that we were the only ones in the temple.

Most Hoysala temples are broadly classified according to the number of Vimana or tower they have – Ekakuta, Dwikuta, Trikuta, Chatushkuta and Panchakuta.This ornate Trikuta was built in 13th century (1200)by Veera Bhallala II and like other temples, is built of soapstone .The sculptures on the outer walls are typical of the Hoysala period as Hindu deities come alive on these stones.

There are two temples here that face each other. One is square shaped and the other,raised on a star shaped plinth. They are all guarded by ornate elephants. The temple houses three shrines- Veera narayana, Venugopal and Yoga Narasimha, three forms of Vishnu . Its unique as two shrines face each other and there are a total of 59 bays with several pillars, most of which are lathe turned and bell shaped.

The central shrine has an 8 feet image of Veera Narayana with four hands which is considered one of the best examples of Hoysala art. .The second shrine has an 8 feet tall image of Venugopal (Krishna with flute) and the third shrine has a 7 feet tall image of Yoga Narasimha ,in meditation . An important feature of the temple is the stone bench which runs all round the edge of the temple.

The temple was almost shut when we came in, but the priest was kind enough to show us around. I learned a bit about the history of Belavadi, which is even older to the temple.

According to the legend, its a place called Ekachakranagara of Mahabharath, the epic. Its the place where the Pandavas when excaping from the Kauravas, their cousin, live in a Brahmin’s house , disguising themselves as Brahmins as well. This is where Bheema kills Bakasura, the demon or asura who torments the villagers and kills them if he is not fed .

I wanted more stories , but I did not hear more. We asked the priest where the Ganapathi temple is and he showed us a small road that was behind the Hoysala temple adjacent to a tank. The road led us to a recently constructed temple where a group of people were doing puja for their new vehicle.

We learnt that Udbhava Ganapathi temple was constructed recently by the devotees and it belongs to the Shringeri Samsthana, one of the mutts established by Adi Shankara . The villagers say that the Ganapathi “emerged on its own” and the idol has been ‘growing’ from many decades .Many of the ornaments that the devotees donated to the temple does not ‘fit’ the idol. Belavadi has been traditionally an adopted village of the Samsthana and the temple is managed by them.The legend is that Kaliyuga would end when the idol grows completly and fully upright.

Time, unfortunately is a cruel word and we are all bound by it. We could have lingered longer, asked a question here and there or gone over to Halebeedu, but we had to return ..But the Hoysala trail continues…

Getting there
Belavadi is in Chikmagalur district in Karnataka and is about 30 kms from the town on the Chikmagalur-Javagal Highway . Its about 10 kms from Halebeedu.


  1. Stephanie 11 February, 2008 at 22:14 Reply

    This is all so fascinating! I am not familiar at all with the stories and names, so I just find myself floating along on your words and the images….on a magical journey.

    thank you for this!

  2. indicaspecies 12 February, 2008 at 15:22 Reply

    As I’m following the Hoysala trail, I am also getting fascinated about the trail of the Pandavas to the Southern parts of India.

    Chickamaglur, as it is, is a place of great scenic beauty, and it holds all this treasure! The ornate architecture of the temples is splendid.

    Did you go to Halebeedu finally?

  3. Aaarti 12 February, 2008 at 23:40 Reply

    Enjoyed reading every bit of that… so much detail n history in our country… wow, and most of em go unnoticed…

    Lovely… keep travelling girl, and thru u we get to explore as well.. 🙂

  4. Sur 13 February, 2008 at 16:15 Reply

    Belavadi, has been added to my to visit list, thanks to you!
    The Hoysala trail strewn with your knowledgeable writing and lovely pictures makes for a really interesting read! I’ve been to just one of the Hoysala temples, Somnathpur. But its actually through your posts that I’ve learnt a lot about the history of these temples!Kudos!

  5. Kamini 14 February, 2008 at 04:22 Reply

    Wow, the pictures are just stunningly beautiful, and lovely write-up, too. How I envy you! I visited these temples many years ago as a teenager, and remember being wowed even at that awkward, rebel-against-anything-your-parents-make-you-do phase.

  6. Preethi 15 February, 2008 at 03:24 Reply

    Wow! this is all so fantastic! The stories, the photos. Wud love to exchange my day with urs! 🙂 just for a day….
    I’ve been to Halebedu. The architecture here resembles that. But you must must go to Halebedu. Don’t you think the sculpting is different here. I’m thinking they set a new fashion trend here. kind of lines, symmetry and tantric kind of sculpting. Will come back for more of these…..

  7. Arun 15 February, 2008 at 13:29 Reply

    lovely documentation and camera work. Would love to see more.

    There are many not-so-famous Hoysala temples all around Karnataka which have the same degree of intricate carvings as the more famous ones(Belur/Halebeedu/Somnathapura), like this. Places like Hosaholalu, Basaralu, Balligave.. all of which I am yet to see..

  8. GMG 15 February, 2008 at 14:02 Reply

    This is not fair… 🙂 Now that I’ve seen some beautiful spots in Northern India, you just smash my eyes with this incredible travelogues and stunning pictures. I’m overwhelmed…
    The only way to deal with the problem will be to put the Hoysala Trail on my list, but with so many things still there to be seen, I don’t know how to manage… ;))
    Anyhow, the temples are superb, your descriptions excellent and the pictures fantastic!
    Thanks for your comments at Blogtrotter
    Have a great weekend!

  9. Ken 16 February, 2008 at 15:30 Reply

    whoa! this place looks stunning! I love ancient buildings, esp ones like this! So much history and meaning.

    Your photos really capture the beauty of the place!

  10. backpakker 16 February, 2008 at 16:02 Reply

    Stephanie – Glad you are enjoying it.. as both Hindu mythology and Indian history can be a bit confusing at times ..

    Priyank – Exploring small towns and temples and recreating the splendour of the past is great fun..yes, will go there again

    SK -Thanks..I sure did..will come sometime to Tamil nadu this year too

    Celine -Im discovering it too ..no couldnt go to Halebeedu this time though Ive been there before – but no pictures 🙁

    Eklavya – welcome to backpakker..and thanks for your words ..join me on the trail

    Ajeya – I asked the priest for permission and he actually said yes…in fact he held the lamp as well

    Nanditha – Thanks..the journey continues ..am glad you are with us too

    Aaarti – Its great fun exploring and learning..join the trail

    Reeta -The mahabharat continues here from where you left on your post..isnt that awesome ?

    Sur -Welcome to backpakker and glad you are part of this trail..Ive been to somnathpur as well, though not on this trip..but will post it ..belavadi is not far from shravanbelagola actually

    kmf -thanks ..glad you are here

    Kamini – i went to most temples as a grumpy rebellious kid, disinterested ..now, I see it with a different perspective..Im not religious, but love to recreate the magic of the past

    Preethi – lets do that…all of february im at home.. ive been to halebeedu before but no pics..u are right ..halebeedu is the capital of the hoysalas and it will be part of the trail..later this year

    Arun-Thank you and am glad you are part of this trail.. I hope to see most of the temples this year too..amazing how these remote places were once famous capitals of the empires..

    Gill/GMG – am glad that you are in India..do give me a shout if you need anything .. this is down south near Bangalore…so if I know your itinerary would be happy to help ..have a great trip

    ps – welcome to backpakker and thanks for being a part of this trail

    Ken – great to see you after such a long time..i agree with you..am glad you are enjoying this trail

  11. Smita 22 February, 2008 at 22:32 Reply

    You have been tagged!

    You need to write 7 random things about yourself and tag 7 or more people to do the same. You may need to leave comment in their blogs so they know.

    We want to know more about you! 🙂

  12. GMG 24 February, 2008 at 05:04 Reply

    Hi Lakshmi, I was there only for a very short (short) trip around the Golden Triangle – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Unfortunately, couldn’t manage to get more time. I think it will be like in Brazil; will have to go there many times to have an idea of the beauties around! One day, I’ll take south. Some friends just took Goa, Mumbay, and Bangalore (but they had lots of time available…).
    As far as blogging, I’m still in Sofia (July 2006). Enjoy!
    Have a great weekend!

  13. ekawaaz 6 March, 2008 at 01:55 Reply


    Found your blog through Apun blogs find it very interesting. very Good pics but I guess you been very lucky to get all lords pics, normally I guess they dont allow to click Lords pics. Thanks once again for sharing pics with us.

  14. backpakker 16 March, 2008 at 21:15 Reply

    kalyan , one india -thanks

    sameera – welcome to backpakker and glad you liked it

    shelley -thanks..I hope you will always enjoy it

    smita – you are right …thats the magnetic pull in these temples , though I am not religious at all

    dharmabum – glad you liked the tour..more coming

    gill – great that you had your first visit to india..looking forward to you coming again where we could meet

    indrani -thanks for dropping by too, anytime at your service

    ekawaaz- welcome to backpakker and thanks for your comment …the priest himself allowed after I took his permissions

    akira – good to see you back..thanks for your comment

  15. Narayanaswamy 13 September, 2011 at 18:14 Reply

    I visited this temple three years back on the curiosity that this place is where my uncle got married. The temple is one of the best after and may be along with Belur & Halebeedu. 99% of the tourists who visit Belur & Halebeedu are not aware of this place though it is just 10Kms from Halebeedu and a good motorable road is there. Thanks to Dept of Tourism Karnataka to keep this place at dark. The three idols and the beauty of the temple is to be felt. This is the only temple where one can enjoy the serenity with no melee of the people and tourists. Worth visiting


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