Somanathapura ಸೋಮನಾಥಪುರ (also known as Somnathpur) is a town located 35 km from Mysore city in Mysore district, Karnataka, India. Somanathapura is famous for the Chennakesava Temple (also called Kesava or Keshava temple) built by Soma, a dandanayaka (commander) in 1268 CE under Hoysala king Narasimha III, when the Hoysalas were the major power in South India. The Keshava temple is one of the finest examples ofHoysala architecture and is in a very well preserved condition. The temple is in the care of the Archeological Survey of India as a protected heritage site.
The reigning monarch was Narasimha III (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, ..." The temple, however, was built by the celebrated army commander, Somnath. Some years earlier he had founded a village on the left bank of the Kaveri River, which he had named Somnathpur, after himself. All the facts are duly mentioned on the slab in old Kannada script and appear as if they had happened yesterday!
The lion at Somnathpur
The temples in Somnathpur are not as widely known 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 better view of the 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 of 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.
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 widely known 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 theKaveri River and then embarked on constructing temples in a bid to further his immortality.
The temple itself, stellar in shape, has three profusely carved pinnacles with a common Navranga and stands on a raised platform.
The three sanctum sanctorums once housed beautifully carved idols of Kesava, Janardhana and Venugopala. Today, the idol of Lord Kesava is missing but the other two still adorn the sanctum sanctorums in their original form.
Source : wikipedia