Temple: Chennakesava Temple
The Chennakesava Temple is located in Somanathapura town in Mysore district.
Chennakesava Temple – Overview
This temple was not commissioned by King Vishnuvardhana. Belur is home to that Chennakesava temple. This temple was built during the Hoysala period by a commander of the Hoysala army called Somanatha. This beautiful temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple is now under the administration of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Chennakesava Temple – History
The Chennakesava Temple in Somanathapura was built by a general of the Hoysala army in the 13th century. By this time, the Hoysalas had been in power for 260 years. Dandanayaka Somanatha had just established a village named Somanathapura on the banks of the Kaveri River. He sought the permission of his Hoysala overlord, King Narasimha III, to start work on a grand monument dedicated to the Lord that would also show off the might of the Hoysala Empire.
There is an old Kannada inscription on a stone slab at the entrance of this grand temple that gives all these details and more regarding the history of this temple. This temple was completed in 1268 AD.
Chennakesava Temple – Architecture
The Chennakesava temple is a Trikuta, that is, three shrine temple. Each shrine has its own Vimana and Sukanasi. The porch has lathe turned pillars, decoratively sculpted. The three shrines with the Vimanas and Sukanasis are in perfect symmetry. The shrines are built on a raised platform. The three shrines are built in a 16 point star-shaped plan.
The temple has two eaves, with decorative miniature towers running between the two eaves. Below the lower eaves is a running frieze of around 200 panels depicting various Hindu deities. At the lower level, there is a frieze of panels depicting scenes from the great Indian Epics. The south side walls feature panels showing scenes from the Ramayana, the rear wall has panels from the life of Sri Krishna and the North side wall depicts scenes from the Mahabharata.
The three shrines are dedicated to three forms of Vishnu, particularly, Krishna. They once housed the beautifully carved idols of Keshava, Janardhana and Venugopala. Now, the Keshava Idol is missing, but the other two still remain in their original glory.
How to Get to Chennakesava Temple
Chennakesava Temple is in Somanathapura, which is near Mysore. You can get on a bus from Bangalore, Mysore and Srirangapatna. The month of October is the right time to visit this temple.