These temples tucked in small villages of South India never cease to amaze me. We are blessed with such heritage, be it architecture, art forms, mythology or scriptures. Veernarayana temple at Belavadi village in Chikmagaluru distt, is one such shining jewel. Belavadi is approximately 15 km from Halebidu. We covered the famous Hoyalashwera temple at Halebidu, kedareshwara temple, Jain Basadis and Veeranarayana temple at Belavadi in one day. To be very frank one can easily spend an entire day in any one of these places, such is the peace permeating aura of these temples. Besides that architecturally too each of these temple has a lot to offer to a keen heart and eye.

Front view of Veeranarayana temple.

As you enter through the small gate the tall dhwajastambha under the open sky makes you stop. As I tried to fix my gaze to the top of the pillar, the overhead sky smiled benevolently as if embracing me. Glancing at the magnificent temple before me I thanked our ancestors over there somewhere in the open space. I hope they heard me, all of them, the patrons and the artists.

The two elephants on either side of the gate are elegant pieces of art with intricate carving. Look at the picture below, a close up of one of the elephant.

In Hinduism elephant symbolises physical and mental strength, majesty, fertility, intelligence and wisdom. Elephants hold a prominent place in our culture from times immemorial.

Entering the door flanked by the elephants you enter a small enclosure with a restful aura, cool and peaceful. At the end of this area is a door that leads to Mandapam. The temple complex including the mandapam and bay areas are said to have 108 lathe pillars, a specialty of Hoyasala temples. crossing the first mandapam you reach the area which houses two lateral shrines of Venugopala and Yoganarsimha. The venugopala idol at Belavadi is said to be officially certified by ASI as being the most beautiful idol of lord Krishna in India. Here Krishna stands in tribhanga mudra under the kalpavriksha and is playing flute in extreme bliss.

Main deity of temple is Veernarayana, whose shrine is at the extreme end of temple complex. Such is the construction that sitting at the gate of garbhgriha one can lose oneself in the expanse of sky outside. the specialty of the this area is that on 23rd march that is on the day of summer solstice, crossing the seven doors starting from temple entrance the sunrays touch feet of the lord. Isn’t that amazing. The temple complex comprises of so many doors, mandapams, corridors, yet how they have measured the height, the direction that on that particular day sunrays reach the interior most part of the temple. How deep and extensive was the knowledge and study of our ancestors be it architecture or nature. Awe inspiring is this.

A Side view of the temple.
Another side view of temple showing the part where exterior walls are not that ornate. but i love this shot because of that far of blue patch with green of tree leaves. To me it feels like that blue light deep inside our soul.
each and every carved image sings eloquently of the craftsmanship of those unknown artists.

Silence reigns within in the company of these images from centuries ago. Somehow looking at them I always tend to think about the hands and hearts that gave shape to these. Did they imagine that years after so many of us would be looking at their creation filled with immense appreciation and wonder for their art. Ney, they would have neither thought nor cared about it. They simply drowned themselves in their passion, they did with all their heart what they enjoyed, what they did. That’s the reason their art pieces stand before eons after echoing their sentiments.
‘Am I the traveller? Ney, the time is, and we scatter as miniscule dust particles while it goes on running with hurricane speed.’

Roaming around these ancient temples in small, quaint villages a peace always dawns upon one’s being. A kind of feeling of oneness with universe and the great spirit pervading it slowly spread within. These are the places where we lose ourselves to find ourselves. And this kind of spirituality is the true essence of culture. A culture that has withstood the test of time. I will sum up my posts with the following words of Dr. Radhakrishnan It is the intense spirituality of India, and not any great political structure or social organisation that it has developed, that has enabled it to resist the ravages of time and the accidents of history.

All the pictures by Sunder Iyer