Channakeshava Temple

Hindu Temple in Belur

Commissioned in AD 1116 to commemorate the Hoysalas’ victory over the neighbouring Cholas, this temple took more than a century to build, and is currently the only one among the three major Hoysala sites still in daily use – try to be there for the puja (offerings or prayer) ceremonies at 9am, 3pm and 7.30pm.

Some parts of the temple, such as the exterior lower friezes, were not sculpted to completion and are thus less elaborate. However, the work higher up is unsurpassed in detail and artistry, and is a glowing tribute to human skill.

Particularly intriguing are the angled bracket figures depicting women in ritual dancing poses. While the front of the temple is reserved for images depicting erotic sections from the Kama Sutra, the back is strictly for gods. The roof of the inner sanctum is held up by rows of exquisitely sculpted pillars, no two of which are identical in design.