Chennakeshava Temple, Somanathpur
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Chennakeshava Temple, Somanathpur

The Chennakeshava Temple built by the Hoysalas in Somanathpur near Mysore

Remember I was in Wayanad sometime ago? On the way back to Mysore, we took a teeny detour to Somanathpur to visit the Chennakeshava Temple. It’s a spectacular Hoysala temple just about 40 km from Mysore.
 

The Hoysala dynasty was a powerful medieval South Indian empire that ruled between the 10th and 14th centuries. Their kingdom included present day Karnataka and even parts of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The first few Hoysala rulers were followers of Jainism but King Vishnuvardhana, the fifth ruler, and his successors, embraced Hinduism.

 

The Chennakeshava Temple dates back to the 13th century, when Narasimha III was the Hoysala king. It was built by Somanath, a commander in his army. That’s why the village is called Somanathpur. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu – Chennakeshava means Beautiful Vishnu.
The Chennakeshava Temple, a Hoysala temple in Somanathpur near Mysore

Hoysala temple architecture is quite distinct from the Dravidian style of temple architecture. The raised platform, the star shaped ground plan, the zig zag walls completely covered with carvings, the space around them to walk on – these are all features typical of Hoysala temples. You can see these in the above picture. The pretty lady is my mom 🙂 The main material used to build these temples is a kind of soapstone. Apparently it was chosen because it is sturdy and yet easy to carve.

The Chennakeshava Temple, a Hoysala temple in Somanathpur near MysoreEach ‘band’ in the above picture is about the width of my palm!
The Chennakeshava Temple, a Hoysala temple in Somanathpur near Mysore
The Chennakeshava Temple, a Hoysala temple in Somanathpur near MysoreExquisite sculptures all over the exterior of the temple depict Lord Vishnu in various forms
The Chennakeshava Temple, a Hoysala temple in Somanathpur near Mysore
The Chennakeshava Temple, a Hoysala temple in Somanathpur near Mysore
The Chennakeshava Temple, a Hoysala temple in Somanathpur near Mysore
The Chennakeshava Temple, a Hoysala temple in Somanathpur near Mysore
A cool thing about this temple is the red letter box hanging on the tree right outside. 
(Some color finally, right? :D)
Pictorial cancellations at heritage sites
Letters posted in this box get a pictorial cancellation, which is like a stamping in the shape of the temple to promote tourism etc. Like this:
Pictorial cancellations at heritage sites
Sorry about the crop – I had to get rid of my address!
This link has a list of other sites in India you can get pictorial cancellations at. The left sidebar has them grouped by state.
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6 Comments

  • Reply Madhu Gopalan July 24, 2015 at 1:18 PM

    Thank you!

  • Reply Madhu Gopalan July 24, 2015 at 1:18 PM

    Thank you Niranjan – glad you like it 🙂

  • Reply Madhu Gopalan July 24, 2015 at 1:17 PM

    Thank you Krish!

  • Reply Krish Lakshminarayanan June 14, 2015 at 3:06 AM

    Wow! excellent photos and photograpby..

  • Reply R Niranjan Das March 25, 2015 at 5:21 PM

    Nice post and good to know about the pictorial cancellation.

  • Reply Anonymous March 25, 2015 at 12:11 PM

    Superb!

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