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
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
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.
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