Given that India is a land of temples, it is no surprise that travel unearths some truly hidden gems. And one such gem is the Veera Narayana Temple in Belavadi about 30 km from Chikamagalur. While one normally associates Hoysala temples with the magnificent ones in Belur and Halebid, this temple is yet another example of the brilliance of the Hoysala school of architecture. Belavadi is an ancient town which has been referenced in the Mahabharatha and is believed to be the place where Bheema killed the demon Bakasura and protected the village.
Built with soap stone this architectural gem is a sight of stupendous beauty and was built in the early 13th century by king Veera Ballala II. The temple has been constructed in Trikuta (three shrined) style and is replete with 3 vimanas and 3 shrines. The entrance is awe inspiring with a slanting roof flanked by two massive stone elephants on either side.
The temple complex has two closed mandapas with 13 and 9 bays respectively. The oldest shrine is of Veera Narayana Swamy and is housed in the sanctum of the inner mandapam. The outer mandapam has the shrines of Lord Krishna (called Gopal Krishna as He is holding a flute) and Yoga Narasimha and are opposite to each other.
The outer hall is replete with several pillars which are either lathe turned or bell shaped.
The halls are filled with ancient idols and relics that reflect a glorious past. The cielings have ornate carvings and detailed patterns that are testimony to the superior craftsmanship that existed during those times.
The outer walls of the temple are adorned with intricate carvings and running pilasters with equally grand towers on top. The sculptures are a treat for the eyes with the camera doing little justice to the splendid work on display.
One of the most unique properties of this temple is that on 23rd March (Equinox) each year, the morning rays of the sun fall directly on the Garbagriha from the entrance door, which is at a whopping distance of 270 feet.