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Belur Chennakeshava Temple: Narasimha Pillar


Narasimha Pillar
This intricately carved pillar is one of the major attractions of the Chennakeshava Temple in Belur, Karnataka, India.

It is a testament to the ingenuity of the builders and sculptors of the temple. It is believed that this pillar had a rotating mechanism – like having ball-bearings at the bottom and top – to enable it to rotate about its own axis.

At the bottom, there is a rectangular pedestal on which the circular end of the pillar rests. People were able to rotate the pillar above the circular end. Above the circular end, there is a rectangular base, above which the pillar becomes circular. This circular space is divided into six horizontal layers, each of which has several miniature shrines carved into it.

Above the horizontal layers, the pillar gradually becomes narrower, ending up with two disc-like constructions, and then it evolves into a wide disc. Sitting on top of the wide disc is an inverse conical construction with a polygonal slab on the top. Above this is the capital of the pillar.

The entire pillar space is covered with fine filigree work. The base has reliefs depicting episodes, such as Samudra Manthana, Ravana shaking Mount Kailash, described in ancient Hindu texts and epics. A variety of deities are carved inside and around the miniature shrines.

Located 150 miles west of Bengaluru in southern India, the Belur Chennakeshava Temple is a magnificent temple dedicated to Vishnu. King Vishnuvardhana of the Hoysala dynasty commissioned the temple in 1167 CE to commemorate his victory over the Cholas at Talakadu. After his death, his successors – Narasimha I and Veera Ballala II – continued the work, and it took 103 years to complete it.

Related Images
Narasimha Pillar – A Closeup View
Mohini Pillar
Lathe-turned pillars in the northwest section of the navaranga

Related Pages
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall
– Belur Chennakeshava Temple Complex
Kappe Chennigaraya Shrine
Somanathapura Keshava Temple – A Magnificent Temple Dedicated to Vishnu
Durga Temple at Aihole
Cave – 1, Cave – 2, Cave -3 and Cave – 4 – Rock-cut cave temples of Badami

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