GOPURA (TOWER), CHENNAKESAVA TEMPLE, BELUR, HASSAN, KARNATAKA, INDIA. The Chennakesava temple, Belur is one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture. It was built by king Vishnuvardhana in commemoration of his victory over the Cholas at Talakad in 1117 CE. Legend has it that it took 103 years to complete and Vishnuvardhana's grandson Veera Ballala II completed the task. The facade of the temple is filled with intricate sculptures and friezes with no portion left blank. The intricate workmanship includes elephants, lions, horses, episodes from the Indian mythological epics, and sensuous dancers (Shilabalikas). Inside the temple are a number of ornate pillars. Darpana Sundari (Lady with the mirror) carved on walls of Belur Temple is one of major attractions in the complex. The credit of carving most of the sculptures goes to Jakanachari. The temple is 37 meters tall and is standing on a platform which has exquisite art work on its outer walls and bracket figures of dancing girls in various poses in perfect proportion. There are shrines of Kappe Chenniga Andal, Saumya Nayaki etc. The main entrance is crowned by a Rayagopura built during the days of Vijayanagar empire. An interesting sight with in the sanctum are the ancient jet-black Hoysala pillars. Inside, even in the darkness, you can see the shining pillars, each unique in its own splendor. The most popular being, the Narasimha pillar in the Navaranga, unique in its filigreed splendor. It is said to have revolved on its ball bearings once. Shantaladevi, a dance legend herself, built a temple in similar fashion to the main temple, which was called the Channigaraya temple. The entire structure with its intricate Filigree gleams like metal. Chloritic Schist, a light greenish soapstone, hard as granite was used to create the complex. Mallitamma was the most prolific of all known Hoysala artists and more than forty well-executed sculptures stand in his name.