Belur and Haleibid near Chikmagalur (read my post here) is famous and glorifies Hoysala architecture to its heights. Comparitively Somnathpur has been less prominent on the tourist map but still displays the architectural brilliance of Hoysalas. The temple was built in the 13th century during the Hoysala rule by one of their commanders, Somanath. The place also gets its name from him.
The temple is seated on a star shaped platform with 3 inner sanctums and a outer courtyard. The interior has numerous lathed pillars and astonishing architecture on its sides and roof. The three inner sanctums have an idol each, namely Janardhana, Venugopala and Keshava. Each of them are different forms of Lord Krishna. The outer walls are en-carved all over with intricate architecture and marvelous sculptures. Each carving depicts in detail, age old stories and scenes from the epics. I also noticed that many of the sculptures and carvings have been chipped off in quite a few places during the invasions of earlier centuries. Surrounding the outer courtyard on three sides are three long corridors with numrous pillars and small inner sanctums.
Though the architecture has great resemblences to the ones in Belur and Haleibid, Somnathpur seemed to me like a lost world with a lot of serenity and solitude. It is probably beacuse tourists are less here. Walking around the courtyard barefoot in hot sun was not a very exciting idea. So after hip hoping around the courtyard I sat down near the entrance under a shade. I kept gazing at the mesmerising temple for a long time and sank into oblivion. I was woken up when a couple of children ran into the complex. After spending a couple of solitude hours at the temple I rode back to Bengaluru.
Presently the temple is taken care by the ASI and they are also further excavating the place and restoring the existing works. The temple is not functional and no rituals are performed here. It is protected as a heritage site by the ASI and is open from 9.00am to 5.00pm everyday. If one wants to know in detail the stories behind the carvings it is better to hire guides who are easily available at th entrance.
Signing Note- Transport yourrself back to the ages of Hoysalas and get lost amidst their magnificent architectures...!!
Distance- 140 Kms
Route- Bengaluru- Kanakapura- Malvalli- Bannur- Somnathpur