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Somanathapura   |   Mysore

Lovers of History and Art are to find ecstasy in this nearly 800 years old temple at Somanathapura. The Chennakesava temple was built by a commander of the Hoysala king Narasimha |||. The Hoysala dynasty was then a major power in South India, and this temple stands as the finest example for the efficiency of the Hoysalas in art and architecture. The temple is enclosed amidst high-walled enclosures and the entrance itself gives an introduction to the magnificence of the architecture inside. The Chennakesava temple is a ‘Vaishnava’ temple that houses three forms of Lord Vishnu in its three shrines. What attracts the tourists is the majesty of the temple laden in lathe-turned pillars all over, which segment the dome shaped ceilings that are intricately designed with art and carvings.

There are also sculptures in the temple that take back the viewers in time, to the glory of the royalty of the Hoysalas. There are sculptures that depict royal palaces guarded by armed soldiers, members of the royal family riding richly decorated chariots, soldiers and commoners riding horses, camel drawn vehicles, dancers, musicians, hunters armed with bows and arrows and accompanied by their dogs, all heading for a hunt. One can also find different kinds of jewellery worn by the women of the times in the sculptures.

This highly ornamented temple was built of out green schist stone and was constructed by a number of architects from in and out of the state. We can find the names of the architects etched on stones at the temple, and the temple provides a vast scope for study of history, architecture and symbology.

Photography: [Sharath Mahadevarahalli]

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