Chennakesava Temple was constructed in 1268 C.E by Soma, a Dandanayaka (commander) during the reign of King Narasimha III in the Hoysala Kingdom. Such detailed and intricate carving style is typical to the Hoysala temples of Karnataka. These masterpieces were carved out of Soapstone (Green schist) which gives them the incredible finish . Unlike granite or marble, the soft version of soapstone could be shaped even using our finger nails. Instead of the usual hammer/chiselling process with stones, most of such pillars & sculptures were made by lathe turning or scraping motion of the tools. A bit of polishing using oil would give them life-like appearance too.
The side walls have been exquisitely carved, portraying the cavalry, elephants and scenes from the epics like Mahabharat, Ramayan & Bhagavat. From the extreme detailing of the sculpures influenced by the culture, clothing, dances, jewelry, weaponry etc, research students could learn a lot about history of that period. This Vaishnava temple has an east-facing building with a strong boundary wall (prakara) and three shrines (trikuta) constructed over a star shaped platform (jagati). The temple is equally beautiful compared to Belur & Halebid temples of the similar architecture. (Read about Belur & Halebid here). Unlike Belur Keshava temple, the statues of this temple were not mutilated by invaders or damaged by natural forces and even the temple towers (gopuram) are intact till date.
Somanathapura is situated on the left bank of the Kavery river, 133 Km from Bangalore and 35 Km from Mysore. There are different road routes to reach this place.
- Route 1 : Bangalore to Somanathpura via Malavalli (distance 133km) Bangalore – Kanakapura – Hagaluru – Malavalli – Bannur – Somanathpura.
- Route 2 : Bangalore to Somanathpura via Maddur (distance 138km) Bangalore – Ramanagara – Channapatna – Maddur – Malavalli – Bannur – Somanathpura.
- Route 3 : Mysore to Somanathpura via Bannur (distance 35km) Mysore – Bannur – Somanathpura.