The Chennakesava temple is basically referred to as the Vijayanarayana temple. It is situated on the Yagachi River at Belur and earlier, it was the capital of the Hoysala rulers. Chennakeshava temple is an excellent example of Hoysala architecture. The actual meaning of Chennakesava is “Handsome Kesava”. This beautiful temple is named after the gorgeous (chenna), long-haired (Keshava) appearance of Lord Krishna. The city of Belur is nearly 40 Kilometre from the city of Hassan. In this temple, you can see a 6 foot Deity in standing position. The two upper hands of deity hold a disc and conch, and the two lower ones hold a lotus and club.
The construction of this beautiful temple was started in 1116 AD and it took 103 years to complete. It is made up of grey-green chlorite. This beautiful temple is covered with complex sculptures which include many scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata.
To the left of the main shrine, there is a shrine which is dedicated to Kappe Chenniga Raya. This gorgeous temple is having two altars. Kappe Chenniga Raya is the main Deity of the beautiful temple, To the west of the major temple, there is a holy place dedicated to Lord Vishnu called Viranarayana.
One can surely not be untouched by the beauty and spiritual aura of Chennakesava temple. This temple has a huge architecture which is beautifully designed along with exclusive filigree gleams which shine like metal. Legendary stories, as well as stories from the Upanishads and Puranas, are represented here. The elaborated gopurams in the Chennakesava temple are very attractive, there are five ornate gopurams over the main entrance. On each side of the main door, there are seven-foot sculptures which are Jaya and Vijaya. In the temple courtyard, a lofty stone pillar is balanced only by its center of gravity. Inside the temple hall, there is also an intricately carved pillar with many little carvings of Lord Narasimha. This pillar used to revolve. It is believed that the carver wanted to challenge anyone to carve a more attractive picture of Lord Narasimha than what was already on the pillar. There are ten perforate screens on each side of the eastern doorway of the assembly hall. The screens to the right side of the temple include the tale of Vamana (Trivikrama) and Bali, the killing of Kansa by Krishna, and the killing of Hiranyakasyap by Narasimha. The panels on the left-hand side describe the churning of the sea by the demigods and demons and Krishna’s pastimes.
Other scenes described from the Mahabharata and Ramayana. There is a caption recording the date of formation of this temple in commemoration of Vishnuvardhanas victory over the Chola viceroy of Talkad. It is believed that about this time, Vishnuvardhana was changed from Jainism into Vaishnavism by Sri Ramanujacharya. Behind the main temple, there is another temple dedicated to the goddess Lakshmi, the companion of Lord Chenna Kesava.
Hassan city is well connected by National highways and railways. This sacred temple witnesses many devotees who come to take blessings from God.