Gangai Konda Cholapuram Temple
During our recent trip to Western Ghats, we visited Belur Hoysala Chennakeshava Temple. This is a Vishnu temple. This temple was built in 11th century. It took 103 years to complete this marvel. We hired a guide (an official from ASI) to explain us about the temple architecture and history. Parking and washrooms are present just opposite the temple complex.
Date: 5th May, 2017 (Friday)
Main Gopuram – Top is made of ceramic and the bottom is made of granite
The temple is made of soap stones (local name), which is soft beneath the earth but when exposed to atmosphere, becomes hard and looks like a metal from a distance.
Look at the intricate details of the sculpture – this is not metal. This is stone.
Hoysala – Young boy who conquered a lion
Such intricate details on the dancing sculptures. A lady looking at the mirror.
A monkey pulling the saree
Look how the left hand is placed on the drums. Isn’t it amazing?
A sculpture that says love is blind
Arjuna during his swayamvar
Ugra(Angry) Narasimha Avatar – Final stages
Ravana lifting Kailash Mountain
Surrounding the temple, first tier is occupied by elephants (Strength), second by lion (Courage) and third by horses (Speed). There are about 600+ elephants and each one of them is unique.
Star shaped perimeter
When art meets the right people, you get this. Look at the details.
Balconies were there those days itself
Inside the temple complex – Artistic excellence
Lady with the parrot
Pillars look like metals, but actually they are not! Also this pillar was placed on top of a ball bearing kind of structure, and is supposed to rotate. But due to poor maintenance over the years, it has lost its function.
Art work on the roof
Soumyanayaki (Goddess Lakshmi) temple
Another main attraction is the floating pillar. There is another one at Lepakshi
At the entrance before the main deity. Work and perfection speak for themselves
And finally Mr and Mrs. Vishnu
Even though many sculptures were broken because of invasion and local vandalism, this temple stands tall amidst the test of time showcasing the mettle and skill of our ancestors. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) owns it and preserves it as well.
It was summer and we as a family had not gone for any trip since my last visit to Muzhappilangad drive-in beach and Bekal fort with cousins. Off late the travel bug started hitting me hard. Chikmaglur, the last time we planned, we could not get any accommodation. My wife’s usual wish is to go to a place and be sure to cover maximum number of tourist attractions there. This time though with the advent of our daughter we were looking for a more leisurely vacation. We were looking mainly for home stays and we zeroed in on Forest Home-stay – Gowdahalli lured by the splendid reviews on tripadvisor.
5th May, 2017 – Friday
We left home 20 minutes past 6 AM. We took Hebbal, Yeshwantpur and Nelamangala exit to reach NH75. Traffic was sparse, but we missed the service road at Nelamangala to take the exit. Hence had to go around and take a ‘U’ turn. Going with my brother, its not new. At least I am glad the ‘U’ happened early . NH75 was smooth but with lots of toll booths. We did a scheduled stop at Swathi Delicacy for breakfast. Butter Dosa, Vada and coffee were too yummy. The restaurant was jam packed. Not a surprise though given the delicious food served. The place also has good parking space and clean washroom.
Nicely laid NH75
After having sumptuous breakfast, we left for Belur – Chennakeshava temple. It was a two hour journey. After Hassan, there is a road on your right that takes you to Belur. A scenic route but with lots of unmarked speed humps. We hit one of them really bad – worst to the point of all three who were sitting in the backseat going and hitting the roof – and we slowed down thereafter.
We reached Belur Hoysala Chennakeshava Temple fifteen minutes past 11. Sun was at its scorching best. Parking is just opposite the temple. Its a Vishnu temple. This temple was built in the 11th century. It took 103 years to complete this marvel. I decided to dedicate a separate thread to Belur temple just because I didn’t want to miss out on any of the micro details. For more details and photos on Belur temple, look at the thread Belur – A hoysala Jewel.
Architecture, skill and perfection at its very best
We spent close to 1.5 hours at the temple. From there we left to our home stay at Gowdahalli. Turn on your GPS early otherwise it’s very difficult to get the network connection after a point. We reached our rooms little past two and lunch was awaiting us. The care taker Dileep looked after our stay and food. A thumbs up to this guy.
Our home-stay in the middle of forest. It reminded me of my days in Mettur.
From the top
A simple and a neat cottage.
A cooler and a TV (which we never switched on)
And a very basic roof
Parking is just in front of the stay
Car’s ramp, a bit risky but nevertheless drivable
They have badminton rackets, shuttle, cricket bats etc. One basically comes here to unwind and laze around. The network connectivity is poor with only airtel and BSNL working at a few places but its a blessing in disguise given that people come here only to switch themselves off from the outside world. We had an amazing time. They had couple of kids’ ride-ons as well. In addition, they have rifle shooting, carom, chess and cards.
The toy horse
Post lunch, we slept for a while. We were served our evening snacks consisting of bhajji, pakoda and hot coffee. Again food was delicious. Post that , we spent the evening playing badminton and my brother did a bit of rifle shooting. After our dinner we retired for the day, but because of terrible power cuts and a lack of in-house UPS, we had a disturbed sleep.
6th May, 2017 – Saturday
My brother and dad went for a trek to a nearby bull shaped mountain called Ethirbujha. It took them close to an hour to climb up. First three fourths of the trek didn’t require much efforts but the rest was literally an uphill task with close to 90 degrees inclination. But if rain gods decide to shower, the first half can become equally treacherous with leeches and the entire place can become slushy and soft. At some places, you had pebbles and the trek was slippery.
Parking at the trek spot
Even with very little rain on the previous day, the path has become slushy
Go though the vegetation
And here is the first glimpse of the summit. The near 90 degree trek !!
From the top
Wow !! Worth the effort
Imagine this place post monsoon
The climb down took around 40 minutes. We spent the entire afternoon in the home stay with the sun beating down hard. At around 4 PM, climate suddenly changed and it became very cloudy. We went to nearby Devarmane hills. The backdrop of sun setting, heavy winds and a light drizzle made our stay at the top very pleasant.
View from the top
Sun setting. How many shades of orange and pink?
And not a lot to climb from the parking,
Western Ghats – You beauty !!
After spending close to fifteen minutes at the top, we descended and visited the Kalabhairava temple. This temple was built by Hoysalas prior to Belur and Halabeedu. It was built in 900 AD.
Tank opposite to the temple
It was a nice short trip and we returned back to our stay for dinner. We had neer dosa, a malnad special.
7th May, 2017
We woke up to the tunes of birds chirping on the last day of our trip. We went for a short cycling around the estate. We saw peacocks at a distance. But before we could reach them, they disappeared.
We had idly and kesari for breakfast. We also packed water melon juice for our onward journey and bid good bye to our stay and proceeded towards Halabeedu via Belur. It took close to an hour and a half to reach Halabeedu, a Shiva temple. This is a twin city of Belur and warrants a separate thread and can be reached at Dwarasamudra – Architecture at its very best.
We spent close to ninety minutes in the temple. With not so good vegetarian restaurants in Halabeedu, we proceeded towards Hassan and after an hour journey on the highways just opposite to the famous Kamat, there was an A2B. We had a very good Tamil Nadu style dosa and sambhar. Rains lashed us on our entry to Bangalore and we reached home little after 7 PM.
It was a nice short relaxing trip to get ourselves rejuvenated. The trek and visits to Belur and Halabeedu were the highlights . Both these temples stand the test of time amidst all the invasion and local vandalism showing the greatness of yesteryear artistic skills, perfection and dedication to work.