Often considered the most attractive and the only complete temple of the Hoysalas is this piece of history, the Chennakeshava temple at Somnathpura. Situated only 30 km from Mysore to the east of Srirangapatna is this Hoysala temple built in 1268 AD.
This star-shaped wonder with triple towers poses as a wholesome fragment of keen lyricism. That is the magnificence of Somnathpura for you. The province was named after an army commander or a Dandanayaka, Soma, during the rule of the Hoysala king Narasimha III. The Chennakeshava temple here was also built by the commander-in-chief Soma and patronised by King Narasimha III.
This Hoysala temple is also called Trikutachala since it houses the holy shrines of three forms of Lord Vishnu - Keshava, Janardhana and Venugopala. Of the three idols, Kehava is missing and the other two are bluntly damaged. However, the temple as a whole is worth visiting. The sanctum sanctorum, main hall with 16 bays and the high walls provide an insight into the workings of Hoysala architecture. There are the names of many sculptors and rulers etched on the walls. The main door especially has made many men immortal. Here's a look at the grandeur of the Hoysala temples...
Of Equal Importance...
The three shrines have their own towers and noses unlike any other Hoysala temple where one idol is of more importance than the other. Here, each shrine is built with 16-point star shaped plan and the towers too follow the same pattern.
Photo credit: Srikanth Goenka
200 Panels of Exuberance
The panels of the temple have many carvings of Hindu deities. Below these panels are horizontal moldings or friezes that carry ornate sculpting.
Photo credit: Dineshkannambadi
The Great Indian Epics
The walls have intricate carvings that depict stories from the the great epics of India. The South wall is mostly full of Ramayana while the North wall has narratives filled with Mahabharata. At the back of the temple has stories of Lord Krishna told with a twist unique to any other.
Photo credit: Clik Maverick
Dedicated to Lord Vishnu
As is a typical Vaishnavaite temple, all the wall-images here showcase the forms of Lord Vishnu. No sign of Lord Shiva is seen anywhere around. This temple built in soapstone is regarded high in architectural taste.
Photo credit: Vinoth Chandar