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Tour Destinations In Karnataka - Somnathpur

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Somnathpur, a tiny village on the banks of the Kaveri, 140 kms, south-west of Bangalore."There is a stillness and everlastingness about the past, it changes not and has a touch of eternity," wrote Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in his "Discovery of India."
This place boasts of one of the last and the grandest of Hoysala monuments - the Kesava Temple built 740 years ago.By the year 1268 A.D., the year in which the Kesava temple at Somnathpur was built. The riches and splendour of the Hoysala court were already evident in their grand temples at belur and Dvarasamudra (present day, Halebid).The reigning monarch was Narasimha III B(1254-91 A.D.) whose full regal title runs into a sizeable paragraph:"Sri

Vishnuvaradhana, Pratapa Chakravarti, Hoysala Bhujabala, Sri Vira Narasimha, Maharajadhiraja, Raja Paramesvara, Sanivarasiddhi, Giridurgamalla etc.

The temple, however, was built by this celebrated army commander, Somnath. Some year ago he had founded a village on the left bank of the Kaveri River, which he named Somnathpur, after himself. All the facts are duly mentioned on the slab in old Kannada script and appear as though to have happened yesterday!
The lion at SomnathpurThe temples in Somnathpur are not as famous as the ones in Belur and Halebid , though they all are from the same period. Somnathpur is more representative of the age, since it did not suffer destruction as much as Belur and Halebid did and hence offers a more unbroken view of period's architecture. Often it is referred to as the poor cousin of belur and Halebid.
Somnathpur's temples adhere to the typical Hoysala style architecture where the temple is designed as a mini cosmos with scenes carved on the walls including Gods, Goddesses, dancing girls, musicians, gurus and all kinds of animals including elephants, lions, cows and monkeys.

Places of Interest
Its unique design and perfect symmetry are ignored amidst the farms and agricultural lands of surrounding villages. It is visited more by foreign tourists than domestic.

At the temple, the outer walls are decorated with a series of star-shaped folds and the entire surface is covered with carved stone plaques. The walls above the plinth are also carved with exquisite figures of gods and goddesses, taken from the Hindu puranas, and meticulously arranged in vertical panels.

The most famous temple is the one dedicated to Keshava, built around 1268 AD by which time the Hoysalas had completed 260 years in power. However, the temples of Somnathpur were not built by the king, but by popular army commander Somnath. He founded a village on the banks of the Cauvery and then embarked on constructing temples in a bid to further his immortality.

Somnathpur Temple
Karnataka is probably the only state in India where a number of exquisitely made rock cut monuments of the historical period are present. Infact, Karnataka is rightly called the cradle of stone architecture by historians. One temple which gives ample testimony to the above claim is the Somnathpur temple near Bangalore.

Architecture The Hoysala temple at Somnathpur is regarded as perfect in symmetry with exquisite stone carvings. The Somnathpur temple stands in the middle of a walled compound. All around the temple is an open verandah

having 64 cells. The stellar shaped temple has carved pinnacles and a common Navranga. It stands on a raised platform. During the initial period, the three sanctums had beautifully carved idols of Kesava, Venugopala and Janardhana . Though the idols of Venugopala and Janardhana are still there, the one of Kesava is missing.

There are a number of star shaped folds on the outer walls of Somnathpur Temple. The surface is covered with plaques of stone. In the walls above the plinth also, very beautiful figures of gods and goddesses have been carved out. Most of these images have been inspired from Hindu puranas.

Another striking feature of the temple is that it has 16 different ceilings - each ceiling depicting different stages of a blooming plantain.There are two other Hoysala temples at Belur and Halebid, but the one at Somnathpur stands apart for its much superior architecture. It may also be mentioned here that the temple attracts a number of foreign tourists too.

How to Reach

By Air: Bangalore airport is the nearest to somnathpur.

By train: mysore is the nearest train station.

By Road: Buses from Mysore (60 km),Bangalore(130 km)and srirangapatna.

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