A master piece of Holysala architecture, built by the Holysala ruler Vishnuvardhan in 1117 AD. There are many versions on the origin of the temple. Many believe the Holysala king built this temple to commemorate his victory over the Cholas, for some others this temple marks the supremacy of Holysalas over the Western Chalukya rulers, who ruled the region.
But the majority view is that Sri Vishnu Vardhan built this temple to mark his conversion from Jainism to Hinduism.
Whatever the reason behind its origin, the temple is an important contribution of Holysalas to the Hindu temple architecture and also to the Hinduism.
The temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna known as Chenna Kesava Temple, which means “Handsome Kesava”.
More than the deity, the splendid sculptural show of the temple is amazing. The temple is on a star-shaped, raised platform. Each inch of the space above this platform is filled with breath taking sculptural work.
Amongst them, the sculpture of Smt. Shanthala devi, the queen of Vishnuvarthan, in dancing form and also the statue of a lady looking on a mirror is particularly note worthy. Besides, there are many richly sculptured pillars. Among the pillars, a pillar called Narasimha pillar deserves special mention. It is said, this pillar used to rotate when it was made!
The main Chennakesava shrine is flanked by many other shrines dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi, Soumynayaki and Rankanayaki. The Channigaraya temple, built by the queen Shantala Devi is adjacent to the Chenna Kesava shrine.
Belur is about 40 kilometers from Hassan.