It was heritage tourism on Sunday, with a friend’s German colleague.Reached Belur after 10 AM, after a roadside picnic breakfast. These are the remains of the 12th century Hoysala dynasty, mainly the temples built by a Hoysala king. The carvings in Channakeshava temple are really breathtaking and there are beautiful damsels and elephants and gods set in stone everywhere you turn. The only eyesore is the Gopuram, a later addition by Vijayanagara kings. You also see the statue of boy Sala slaying the tiger here and there, even in City centre(?). Sala was the founder of the Hoysala dynasty, and the temple was built by a Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana. I guess this Kannada dynasty is the reason why the police in Bangalore(maybe all of Karnataka) use Hoysala as their name. There is an organised guide system in Belur, and for 200Rs, someone will come with you and tell you a bit about the temple and its carvings. Though he kept adding his own version of interpretation, it was interesting. The queen at the time seems to have been an enchanting character, and there are many sculptures of the queen in dance poses.
Halebidu is around 16km from Belur and at first the temple looked the same as the Channakeshava temple in Belur. This is a Shiva temple though, the Hoysaleshwara temple. There are two large Nandi sculptures, and the carvings seems to have more layers than the Channakeshava temple. However, this is not as well preserved and the sculptures have been vandalized and pieces broken. The horses were missing legs and Nandi had writing on it.
On the way back to Bangalore is Shravanbelagola, which has a 10th century monolithic statue of Gomateshwara, a jain ascetic. You have to climb up the hill to reach the temple and the majestic statue. The temple closes at around 6.30 or so, so you should reach there a bit earlier. There is also a lotus pond on the way, and a temple pond near the foot of the hill. The view from the top is really beautiful