Chennakesava Temple, Somanathapura
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Chennakesava Temple, Somanathapura

 Chennakeshava temple is located at Somanathapura, Karnataka.  It is one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture. The temple was built by Soma in 1268 C.E. under Hoysala king Narasimha III, when the Hoysala Empire was the major power in South India.

Gallery of images

The ceiling of the mantapa is supported by lathe turned pillars, a standard feature in Hoysala constructions. Between pillars, the ceiling is domical and intricately decorated. These decorations could include multi-petalled lotuses, banana bud motifs based on stepped ponds and snake like knots symbolising eternity

Of the three shrines, one shrine has the image of the god Keshava, but the image is missing from the sanctum. The other two shrines house images of Janardhana and Venugopala (all three images are forms of the Hindu god Vishnu). This is strictly a Vaishnava temple and there are no depictions of any forms of the Hindu god Shiva.

Other sculptures include of depictions of affluence of that age including members of the royal family riding richly decorated chariots, soldiers and commoners riding horses, camel drawn vehicles, dancers, musicians, hunters armed with bows and arrows and accompanied by their dogs, all heading for a hunt. There are sculptures of royal palaces protected by armed guards, intricate carvings of jewellery, such as pendants, necklaces, waistbands and rings and of woman sporting hair styles that were in vogue. The names of many architects and sculptors are etched on stone from which it is evident that the artists were both local and from outside the region

The temple is housed inside an impressive high walled enclosure and the entrance to the complex is through a porch with tall lathe-turned pillars. The material used for the temple is soapstone.

The temple which is built on a is a trikuta (triple shrine). All shrines (vimanas) have a superstructure (tower) that is intact. Inside the temple, each vimana has a vestibule that connects it to the main rectangular mantapa (hall).

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