I have to be honest. There was a point of time when I felt that if you saw one temple, you have seen them all. I think that was largely because of the heat and the temple fatigue that I experienced in Cambodia. After visiting the temples of Kanchipuram last year, that feeling changed rather quickly. I think it had a lot to do with the temple priest who took the time to explain and talk about the different parts of the temples. Ever since then, I have started enjoying visiting the temples in India. I particularly enjoy the older temples. So when we were choosing a route back to Bangalore from Mysore, I suggested that we add the Keshava Temple in Somanathpura as a stop on the way.
LOCATION AND ENTRANCE FEES
The Keshava Temple is located in a small town called Somanathpura which is why it is also called the Somanathpura temple. Another name that you may find associated with is Cheenakesava Temple. A titbit of information that really caught my attention is that the word Cheenakesava meand ‘handsome kesava’ and I guess that is a great way to describe the gorgeous temple. Somanathpura is 35 kilometres away from Mysore and 139 kilometres away from Bangalore. If you do visit the temple, the entrance fees are 25 INR per person. You are allowed to take you cameras inside so that isn’t a worry.
You need to remove your shoes before entering the temple. The ground does get hot if you reach mid-day and if you aren’t used to it, it may get uncomfortable. Luckily, the enclosure has shaded paths that make it easier to walk around without burning your feet.
Inside the Keshava temple in Somanathpura.
The Keshava Temple was constructed between 1254 – 1291 A.D. which makes the temple really old. The construction took place under the supervision of a Hoysala king known as King Narashima III. That is why the temple is a great example of the Hoysala architecture. The temple is mounted on a raised platform. The temple itself is within an enclosure. Despite the enclosure that surrounds the temple, you will find that the quadrangle has a lot of space.
We took it in turns to visit the temple since we had our cat with us. The spacious lawns outside the temple were beautiful and peaceful so we didn’t mind at all. One thing that I must mention is that there were a lot of carvings all over the temple and its walls. It is hard to decided where to look at first. Overwhelming may be a better word. Friezes of elephants, gods and goddesses and numerous scenes bring out the Hoysala art. The tall pillar outside the enclosure is said to have once been topped by a Garuda statue.
The temple is dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva which was as far as I understood. A lot of the Hindu mythology escapes me but I’m trying to rectify that whenever I can. We did not head into the inner sanctum of the temple since there were a lot of devotees who were visiting, and we did not want to disturb their prayers.
The Keshava temple isn’t very big and you can probably breeze in and out of it if you wish. We however had a lot of time on our hands. We wandered through the corridors, clicked a zillion photographs (I may exaggerate a bit!) and enjoyed our time there immensely. We finally had to tear ourselves away from it largely because the cat was getting agitated among the crowds.