Amazing stone bracket damsels of Chennakesava Temple, Belur, Karnataka

stone brackets of Madanikas below the eaves, Belur temple, KA

The Chennakesava Temple (Also Chennakeshava) of Belur in the Hassan district, Karnataka  symbolizes the nuances of Hoysala  temple architecture. Built in the early 12th century by the Hoysala ruler, Vishnuvardhana, in Belur, once  the capital of the Hoysala kingdom the temple is replete with countless intricately carved sculptures of various sizes. bracket figures, etc. The primary construction material is soapstone which can be carved with considerable ease and finesse.  Soapstone is most suitable for delicate carvings of images, etc.  The ruler built the temple of stunning beauty to commemorate his victory over the Cholas in 1116 AD.

It took took 103 years to complete this beautiful temple which was unfortunately severely damaged during the invasion of the Delhi sultanate led by Malik Kafur, a commander of Alauddin Khilji in 1311and in  1326, Mohammed Bin Tughlaq pulled  down the remaining structures. Some parts of the temple were restored by later rulers.

star-shaped plan, Chennakeshwara temple, Belur,

The star-shaped Chennakesava Temple (also called  Vijaya Narayana Temple) of Belur, Karnataka is an epitome of architectural wonders with  lathe-turned stone pillars, stone lattices and  friezes. Set in the sanctum /garbhagriha  is a magnificent 3.7 m tall image of Lord Vijaya Narayana in black stone.  Among the design features of this temple,  stone brackets  that stand apart between ornate  pillars and  eaves get the attention of visitors. The striking feature is they are stone carvings of damsels wearing distinctive jewelry - headgear, necklace, anklets, girdle in the waist, etc. These well-made figurines in the bracket support the protruding roof all along the edges. The figures are draped in clothes with firm crease.  The  design styles and meticulous execution  reflect on the workmanship and technical prowess of the sculptors of Hoysala period. Their ingenuity is just phenomenal. This post focuses on the stone brackets of this temple that lend additional support to the roof edge.

Stone brackets, Belur temple, KA.

A bracket, an architectural element, is  a structural or decorative member and is made of  wood, stone, plaster, metal, or other stuff. It projects from a wall, usually to bear weight and sometimes to  strengthen an angle. It may serve as a ledge to support a statue or beam in temples or big buildings. The stone brackets  of Chennakesava Temple are well known for their artistic excellence and workmanship. There are four bracket figures on the ceiling which are said to have been  inspired by the beauty of Shantaladevi, the queen of King Vishnuvardhana. The popular figures in the bracket are  ladies with a mirror, betel leaves, a parrot. main lady with maid in waiting and musicians playing music.

Belur temple. KA. stone

 Belur temple, KA

A lady with a creeper in her right hand; parrot is sitting on the  palm of her left hand. She looks as if she is talking to the  parrot. Her bangle on her right hand appears to be lose and can move up and down. Woman figure in the bracket, Chennakeshwara temple, Belur, KA .................................

Above image: Woman figure in the bracket, Chennakeshwara temple, Belur, KA. The woman has a beard & moustache like a man. She looks neither male nor female and is dancing holding a drum in her left hand......................

Damsel with curly hair and huntress, Belur temple

Belur temple. KA.  enchanting beauty & (right) Musician

Belur temple, KA

Above image: Belur Chennakeshwara temple, Karnataka, women brackets on the roof. Lady saint, drum dance and flutist...........

Shuka Bhashini (Pet Parrot) Belur temple, KA

 Belur, KA Darpana Sundari (Beauty and Mirror)

No doubt, these bracket figures also known as‘Shilabalikas, Shalabhanjika or Madanikas are the major attractions of this temple because of their vantage location. Image credit: