Poetry in stone - Somanathpura Kesava Temple


Whenever people talk about brilliance of Hoysala architecture, they give example of temples in Belur & Halebidu. I was in Belur last year and Chennakesava temple over there, left me speechless. Belur and Halebidu both are very popular temples and crowd puller. But there is another temple

140 KM from Bangalore and just 30 km from Mysore, in the small village of Somanathpur "The Kesava Temple" last temple of Hoysala kingdom. Not so popular, lesser known but equally beautiful (may be more) and highly ornamented temple.



Somanathapur was earlier under the rules of cholas was conquered by Hoysala in AD 1117. Later it was ruled by Vijayanagara and Wadeyars of Mysore. It become of the foremost agrahara (quarters for Brahmin) township during the rule of Narasimha III . An inscription dated AD 1268 records that Somanatha Dandanayaka, an illustrious of Hoysala king Narashimha III established an agrahara in Somanathapur and named it as “Vidanidhi Prasanna Somanathapura” and consecrated the temple Kesava.

Bangalore to Somnathpur drive was great. Take NICE road, and then Mysore highway. Drive till Maddur (SH275) take left towards Kanakpura road. Overall road condition is great. I was aware of road construction work on Kanakpura route (SH 209), so avoided that.


Two and half hour drive, reached Somanathpura. The temple complex is well maintained. Entry fee is 30 rs per head. From entrance gate to temple gateway there is beautiful lawn and huge banyan tree.

 

A tall lamp post at the right hand side of temple gateway.  




After crossing the gateway,  in front of us there was magnificent temple. At the first glimpse, you can make out this is outstanding and beautifully carved temple.


It seated on perfectly symmetrical star-shaped platform (jagati), enclosed in spacious courtyard surrounded by pillared corridors the navaranga mandapa. The temple facing east has three grabhagirha  (sanctum sanctorum) on the west, north & south.

The “Venugopala” (The cowherd flute-player), “Janardhana” (Represent success and spiritual liberation) and “Kesava” (with beautiful long hair) three aspects of the Lord Vishnu respectively in its three excellently ornamented individual shrines. Worship is not offered here. Unfortunately idols are missing. 

 




The outer walls of the temples are decorated with beautiful carvings. The platform on which the temple stands, is adorned with two seated lions




The basement of the outer wall is highly ornamented with friezes of elephants, epic scenes of Ramayana and Mahabharta.

Elephants are often found on the lowest course of the walls, as they are considered to symbolically support the temple on their backs. In another section of frieze, horsemen, battle scene, musician.







Inside the temple


ceiling inside, notice the fine art and detailed carving.



Its time to explore the outer wall



Sarasvati plays the vina, additional arms has rosary (upper right arm), and book (upper left arm). Her vina and book (interpreted as a copy of the Vedas) establishes Sarasvati as goddess of poetry and the arts.


Lord Vishnu







Lord Narsimha



And there are many. You will not get tired of looking each and every sculpture over there. Guides are available there, would be good to hire if you want to get more details and understand the architecture.

I dont understand why this temple is not highlighted by state tourism board. This temple is as beautiful as temples in Belur and Halebidu. But it has own advantages, not much crowd over there, you will have ample time to see its every nook and corner in more details (most importantly in peace and without any shor sharaba)


I know all these pictures does not do it justice, It lacks details, yes..but if you are in Bangalore, love archeology, India architecture and history buff, its perfect weekend gateway and see for yourself.


Enjoy the video



My old blogpost - Belur

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