Belavadi, a village in Karnataka's Chikmagalur district, is home to the Veera Narayana temple. The first time I went to Halebeedu, I was not aware of this temple. It was only when I was looking for offbeat Hoysala temples, I came across Veera Narayana Temple at Belavadi. It is just about 15km from Halebeedu. Belavadi temple looked unique and that is exactly why I wanted to explore it. Chikmagalur is not far from here either. The board read 25kms from here is Chikmagalur and we were on the Chikmagalur-Javagal route.
One of the prominent kings of the Hoysala Empire, King Veera Ballala II constructed this temple. I noticed that this temple is made of soapstone at places and granite at other places. Maybe this was constructed or developed over time. The priest did add that Narasimha Balla also constructed few parts of it. The temple is from 1200CE. It is a trikuta temple which means there are three shrines with gopurams on top. But the uniqueness starts from the entrance itself.
The entrance was flanked with elephants leading to a room with slanting roof. This kind of entrance itself is unique. The ceiling must have had carvings, for it just looks mushed up on top now. This temple has bore the brunt of time. Renovation and restoration has been done by ASI. A guide or someone similar was sitting at the entrance who promptly told us to rather go to Halebeedu. I was disappointed to hear the person say this.
Moving in, the grand temple opens up to a huge garden. The dwajastambha stands tall in the front. The grandeur of the temple opens up in the front. It is unlike any other Hoysala temples that I have seen. Flanked by two elephants at the entrance, the temple opens up to a bay or room or mantapa where people can sit at leisure. The mantapa is filled with the lathe bell shaped pillars. There are parapets that you can lean into. It is tough to describe why I say this mandapa in Belavadi looks unique, am gonna let the pictures speak here.
Either side of this large open mantapa (hall) are two shrines. Pass it and it takes you into an innner mantapa as well. It is as though you have to walk and walk and walk to reach the innermost shrine. These two closed mantapas comprise of one with thirteen bays and the other with nine bays, each with a central shrine at the end. A total of 108 pillars are holding up this temple. The priest was sitting nonchalantly. Me and my friend were the only ones. He wanted to lock up the temple and leave as it was already 1 pm. But I held him around for a little more time.
The best part of the temple is the deity in the sanctum sanctorum. This is a Vaishnava temple and the main deity is Lord Narayana. The sculptures are so divine and beautifully done. Very smiling, pleasant and brings serenity to you immediately. The uniqueness of Narayana here is he is holding gada (mace) in one hand and holds veera mudra in another hand. Hence gets the name as Veera Narayana. It is said that the Shankh or the conch was used to kill the demon Shankhasura, Around the deity, his ten avatars are carved. It is tough to notice until the priest points it out with the help of light. Narayana is about 8ft high, standing tall
Two more shrines flank facing each other. One is Lord Krishna and the other is Yoga Narasimha. Krishna is in dancing posture, playing flute. The whole of Govardhan, the people, flock, cattle, garden everything is carved around. And Rukmini is seen along too. The prominent eyes smiling at you is the best. Right opposite him is the Yoga Narasimha, meaning he is in a meditative pose. Found sitting, he is done killing Hiranyakasipu and is in a controlling his anger mode. This is also a very exquisitely done sculpture.
Walking around the Veera Narayana Temple you come across the stories from mythology. Honestly this temple did not go through any invasion. But the walls are blank. We have not maintained it. There is just one wall still with sculptures left. The top of the gopuram has been restored well.
One other uniqueness of Veera Narayana Temple is that the main deity Narayana is installed in such a way that every year on March 23, the sun rays fall directly on him. This is not a simple thing. The inner sanctum is super in, the rays cross seven doors and then fall on him. This kind of architecture marvel can only be found in India and specially the Hoysala architecture.
- Veera Narayana Temple at Belavadi is open from 8am to 2pm and again from 4:30pm to 6:30pm.
- You can also reach out to the priest Prashanth Bharadwaj at 9035041518 for any poojas to be done.
- Photography is prohibited inside the temple. Only outside the temple allowed.
- No videos or drones allowed around the Veera Narayana Temple.
Also read - Hoysala Temples of Karnataka, A complete guide - Click here
You can reach Veera Narayana temple from Bangalore by two ways. Or also make it as a stop en route Chikmagalure. The one-way travel takes roughly 4 to 5 hours for both of them (about 230 km or so). I did this while returning from Sakleshpur. So yaa, either do it as Bangalore weekend getaway or en route Chikmagalore or Hassan.
Take the Bangalore –> Kunigal –> Yediyur –> Turuvekere –> Tiptur –> Arsikere –> Banavara –> Javagal –> Belavadi route. Here you can also stop at temples of Turuvekere and Arsikere. This is much more offbeat to go through.
The other route is Bangalore –> Kunigal –> Channarayapatna –> Hassan –> Halebeedu –> Belavadi route. This is the highway route.
For stay options, Bangalore or Chikmagalur is best. Hassan also has few offbeat resorts for a quiet getaway. There are many affordable hotels in and around Belur and Halebid too. If you prefer something a little more opulent, check out the Hoysala Village Resort, which is located between Hassan and Belur. Look into homestays, hotels, and resorts in Chickamagaluru if you wish to stay in the middle of nature. Farm stays and plantation stays are two examples.