UNESCO team seeks expansion of buffer zone of Chennakeshava temple in Belur

Vishnu Samudra near the Chennakeshava temple to be declared State-protected monument

Updated - October 31, 2022 05:45 pm IST

Published - October 31, 2022 05:44 pm IST - MYSURU

A file photo of Chennakeshava temple at Belur in Hassan district of Karnataka.

A file photo of Chennakeshava temple at Belur in Hassan district of Karnataka. | Photo Credit: SRIRAM MA

The UNESCO expert team, which recently visited the Hoysala temples at Belur, Halebidu and Somanathapur for an assessment as a precursor to the monuments being declared World Heritage Sites, has sought expansion of the buffer zone of the Chennakeshava temple at Belur.

The UNESCO team visited the Hoysala monuments in September 2022. The team included Tiang Kian Boom, an expert from International Commission on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). He has suggested that the buffer zone surrounding the temple at Belur be extended to include the Vishnu Samudra as well.

Vishnu Samudra is a lake located about 1 km away from the temple, and is not a protected body. But the water from the lake is drawn for rituals in the Chennakeshava temple while Theppotsava is also conducted, along with various rituals associated with the temple. Besides, there is a mandapa where certain rituals are conducted periodically.

‘’The UNESCO team has stated that since the lake is associated with rituals involving the main temple, it should also be part of the heritage area, and hence has sought the extension of the buffer zone,” said A. Devaraju, Commissioner, Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage.

The expert team’s report to the UNESCO will be the basis on which a decision will be taken on declaring the three Hoysala monuments as World Heritage Sites.

A file photo of Chennakeshava temple at Belur in Hassan district of Karnataka.

A file photo of Chennakeshava temple at Belur in Hassan district of Karnataka.

‘’The 12th century monument is under the custody of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which sent a note to the State Archaeology Department following which we have decided to declare Vishnu Samdura and the precincts, as a State-protected monument,” said Mr. Devaraju. Once this is done, the buffer zone of the temple and the lake will overlap, and will meet the requirements of the UNESCO, he added.

A communique has already been sent to the district administration in Hassan. Steps will be taken to get the water body and its precincts notified as a protected place. Declaring the lake, the mandapa and its precinct as a State-protected monument will also serve to conserve the water body, said Mr. Devaraju.

The temples of Belur and Halebidu are on the UNESCO world heritage tentative list since 2014. The Keshava temple at Somanathapur is being clubbed with them given the architectural similarities besides being an outstanding example of a masterpiece of human creative genius. If declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – likely in 2023 – the temples at Belur, Halebidu and Somanathapur will be the third group of monuments to have the coveted status in the State.

The existing World Heritage Sites in Karnataka are the monuments in Hampi and the temple complex in Pattadakal-Aihole-Badami.

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