Views in Mysore. Bailoor Temple [Chennakeshava Temple, Belur]. Carvings in detail on east side 212611
Photographer: Lyon, Edmund David
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph from an album of 40 albumen prints by Edmund David Lyon. Close-up detail of carved work on the east wall of the Chennakeshava temple at Belur in Karnataka. The temple, dedicated to Krishna as Chennakeshava or the Beautiful Longhaired One, was built in 1117 AD by the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana
apparently to mark his independence from the Chalukyas of whom he had been a feudatory, and to commemorate his victory at Talakad over the Cholas. Belur was the early capital of the Hoysalas in the 11th and 12th centuries. They shifted subsequently to Halebid. They evolved an unique style of architecture, of which the temple at Belur is an impressive example, built on a star-shaped plan and embellished with sculpture. It stands within a walled courtyard, and is surrounded by smaller shrines and columned mandapas. Mysteriously, it lacks a tower over the sanctuary, appearing flat-roofed. Lyon's 'Notes to Accompany a Series of Photographs Prepared to Illustrate the Ancient Architecture of Southern India' (Marion & Co., London, 1870), edited by James Fergusson, gives the following description of this photograph, 'These views will convey some idea of the exquisite carvings on the eastern half of this temple. The little cushion-shaped frames - each enclosing its little figure - stand out in clear relief, the stone being cut completely away behind, and each frame being pierced through; while both behind and above them other rows of small figures are carved... The small running patterns, intermixed with these, are only to be compared to the finest lace-work; the whole forming such master-pieces of carvings as probably cannot anywhere be excelled. They have all, unfortunately, been whitewashed, by which much of the beauty of detail is lost'.