Somanathapura Keshava temple is located on the river banks of Kaveri, about 30 kilometers from Mysore city. This temple is now under the custody of Archeological survey of India. This is also declared by United Nations as ‘Culture Heritage Center’. Every carving of a stone in this temple makes you wonder about the kind of artists our country is blessed with. Especially the Hoysala style which resembles that of Belur and Halebeedu, all belonging to the state of Karnataka. As mentioned in one of my previous posts, here is the detailed information on this great place!
Reaching Somanathapura is no difficult, well connected with roads. However, some roads aren’t that great as some of the parts are still being asphalted. Nevertheless, the awaiting feast for eyes will not dampen the road conditions. If you are traveling from Bangalore, you can choose one of the two routes among Mysore Road or the one that passes through Kanakapura. If you have plans of visiting other places around Mysore like Srirangapatna etc., it is better to take the Mysore road route from Bangalore. Start early in the morning so that you can cover most of the places in one day.
The construction of the temple was initiated by Somanatha, a commander for Hoysala king Narasimha III (1254-1291 AD). It is a spendid example of the Hoysala style of architecture. It stands on a raised platform in the centre of a spacious enclosure having sixty four cells. This three celled (Trikutachala) structure consists of three Garbha Grihas (Sanctum), each houses statues of Venugopala, Kesava and Janardhana. The mahadwara (main entrance) faces the east, Keshava sanctum is elevated to face the east while other two are towards north and south on either side of the Keshava statue. All these are surrounded by elegantly carved shikharas. See the images here. If you wish to see them bigger, head on to my flickr album or view this slideshow in fullscreen mode.
The basement of the outer wall is highly ornamented with friezes of elephants, scrolls, scenes from epics and puranas. There also exists small images with intervening turrets and columns with sculpted figures in between. Not just that, you get to witness a number of gods, goddess and their attendants adorning the walls emulating the imagination of the sculptors in various forms. The lathe turned pillars and delicately carved sixteen different types of ceilings are the characteristic feature of the Hoysala art. The names of a number of sculptors, ie., Mallithamma, Masanathamma, Chameya, Bhameya and many more are carved on the pedestals of the statues. It is observed that Mallithamma has not only carved the maximum number of images but also carved the Northern Shikhara that of Janardhana.
Inscriptions engraved on a huge slab standing in the mahadwara and on the beams of navaranga ranging in date from 1269-1550 AD provides the detailed information about the construction of the temple and several grants for the upkeep of the temple. Do visit this place on your next visit to witness the stone sculpture art at its best.
umesh k derebail says
Good detailed description Mohan, Somnathpur is definitely a legacy of Hoysala architecture. The artisans have blended culture with their skills etching them on the facade of temple walls…..
Naveen JP says
I have been there too and what impressed me most wast the “finish” that each sculpture, pillar etc had. It was sad to see the noses of “all” statues on the walls of the temple broken. A guard their told me it had something to do with Tipu Sultan but I could not verify that claim.
I can’t agree more! Even after all that vandalism, the beauty still attracts a number of tourists 🙂
It was so wonderful!I loved the slide show!
Great going Mohan. I have decided you are my blogging mentor and yours is the best blog ever. I can never write like you though, you are too good but you are a good role model.
Thank you Shraddha! Good to see someone getting inspired with my blog 🙂 Thanks again, I will try to live up to your kind words 🙂
This post is better than wiki.. Well-written Mohan! 🙂 I so wanna go there..Lots of beautiful places in and around Bangalore itself yet to be explored!
Thanks lostworld! Let me update the page of wiki sometime soon 😉
Yes, lot of places around for sure!
wow these are beautiful pictures.. and an awesome description to go along with it..
thnx for sharing :)!!
You are most welcome! I think this is your first time drop here.. welcome 🙂
amazing pics. a neat description.. Very well taken pictures
Thank you 🙂
The Lonely Saint says
Nice pictures. The contribution of Hoysalas to architecture cannot be described in words. Temples at Belur, Halebidu, Somanathapura, Shringeri are all marvelous. There’s one in my home town Bhadravathi as well.
Absolutely… I can’t stop admiring Hoysala dynasty architecture!. Thanks for the info friend… more details about the one in Bhadravathi would help 🙂
Great pics Mohan. You bought my good old memories dating to a decade back. I must say that people around don’t bother much about such marvels, it is only the tourists that praise this place so much.
Thank you! Well, the reality is that the surrounding villagers are busy with their farm work most of the time and it is a common sight for them. But for visitors, it is a destination… that brings in all the curiosity I guess!
Somnathpur is very underrated, I love the sculptures there:)
I can’t agree more! Welcome 🙂
Made a note of the place . Adding the same to must visit places. I would add you in my flickr account too so that I would get your updates.
thanks Chitra! Welcome to my blog 🙂 Look forward to see your photo collection too 🙂
Karan A says
Thats nice description… hope to see the place some day…
Sure, please do.. you wouldn’t be disappointed.
Nalini Hebbar says
great pictures Mohan…the sculpture worth the bumpy roads, I guess
Thanks Nalini… Every bump is worth 😛
Its an awesome place for sure 🙂
Composition of the first pic is superb 🙂
Thank you… waiting for that day when I can go for a DSLR 🙂
think most of those blessed artist lived in Central or Southern parts of India …..cause we don’t find these marvelous sculptures in Northern India. They start from Madhya Pradesh Sanchi Sutpa and onwards………….
In Northern India, almost all the monuments were built in the Mugal Era and that’s why have that touch of Muglai art in them…………
It’s great to see such variety of art around India….
I remember reading in history that there used to be a number of such places, but the very shameful act by Afghan invaders destroyed our treasure. That could be the reason why the south survived to some extent.
shrinidhi hande says
Roads were very bad when I drove there in june 2008… Hope it will be better soon.
Talakkad and Simsa are nearby destinations
That 30 kms stretch is pretty average, may bout about 5-10kms the road is really bad.
This is truely marvellous..I would love to visit it some day.
Sure, you must. I am pretty confident that you will cherish this for a long time.
Parth J Dave says
Nice photos, Mohan. This heritage site is truly a marvel! I got to learn something new today, thanks to you, buddy!
You are most welcome!
That’s a nice description of the trip Mohan and photos are good too.