This post is about a quaint little place steeped in history near Mysore called Somanathapura. It is about 35 kms from Mysore. We visited this place along-with my parents and sister in April 2008 on the day of the Ugadi festival. This place is of historical significance due to the presence of the 13th century Kesava/Chennakeshava temple built during the reign of the Hoysala dynasty.
We started off in the morning around 10 AM from Mysore to this place. We took the right turn from the highway after about 2 kms after crossing the historical town of Srirangapatna. This road leads to the town of Bannur from where one needs to take a right turn after crossing the bus stand which has a sign board to Somanathapura. The way before Bannur was dotted with lush green fields. We reached Somanathapura around 12 PM since the road was not great after Bannur.
This is a lovely temple built similar to the temples at Belur and Halebidu. There is a plaque of stone with inscriptions written in Hale Kannada (Old Kannada) at the entrance. The temple stands on a pedestal and the outer walls have star fold shapes. The intricately carved walls of the temple are a sight to behold. They are adorned with the carvings of gods, goddesses, shila balikas (dancing girls) and several animals which symbolize the gods like the Varaha (Boar), Kurma (Turtle), etc. Even the inside walls of the temple along-with the ceiling and the Garbha Gudi (Inner Sanctum) have beautiful carvings on them. What skills the sculptors had in those times! Their love for their work and the perfection they achieved in it has been reflected in the monuments they left behind for the future generations to see. The beautifully carved Vimanas (Gopuras) have stood the ravages of time. The temple is a protected heritage site under the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) at present.
After spending around 2 hours here all of us were very hungry and decided to go home. It had been a pleasant trip throughout. One of the things on my to-do list is to go on the Hoysala trail of temples! There are many obscure temples which are not as well known as the ones in Belur and Halebidu but beautiful nonetheless. My recent trip to one such place was the Amrutesvara temple at Amruthapura which is a small village outside Shimoga city near Tarikere. Will write about it soon :)