After the long and arduous trip covering Northern part of Tamil Nadu, I bid adieu to the State by exiting through Arrakoram, boarding overnight train, alighting at Mysore located at neighboring State Karnataka. I would have ended my trip at Kancipuram itself, but the exlcusive Chennakesava Temple at Somnathpura had pulled me all the way to Mysore. Overnight train and cheaper flight rom Bangalore was an added advantage.
Alighting Mysore, dropped all major luggage in the Cloak room. Used the waiting room, since I had a ticket to Bangalore in the afternoon. I kept small backpack and came out of Station. Saw a Bus Stand few metres away, but realised the buses to Somnathpura leave from Central Bus Stand.
I took the City Bus from stop outside Railway Station to CBS and further took bus to Bannur. There was no direct bus to Somnathpura, Bannur is the center point. It was a 45 mins ride, I was advised to wait for the Bus further to Somnathpura.
Instead of wasting time, I hired an auto, put the GPS on, it was straight ride with green Paddy fields on the both sides. I reached Somnathpura by 08:30 am, there were hardly any people around.
Main attraction of Somnathpura is the Chennakesava Temple. This temple was built by Somanatha Dandnayaka, a Hoysala General under King Narasimha III in 1268 A.D. Temple is constructed from Soapstone (easily moldable, initially soft, later when exposed to heat & air, it hardens). This is one of the three masterpieces representing finer and intricately beautiful Hoysala Architecture (other two being Belur & Halebid in Hassan District).
As per the history, there had been attacks on temple, in search of Gold, on the Hoysala Kingdoms by Malik Kafur, Alauddin Khilji’s General in 1311 and in 1326 Muhammad Bin Tughlaq, destroying some part of the temple. Those parts were restored by Vijayanagara Kings and later by Wodeyars of Mysuru. This difference can clearly be seen in the color, carving, and polishing of the stone.
There is a huge Mahadwara in the form of Mandapa with adjoining Basadis on both sides. These Basadis were used to keep the Idols safe from the attacks, during the Tughlaq attack. Temple is constructed on a raised star shaped Adisthana or Jagati like other Hoysala Temples. Like Belur Temple, here also, the Dwarpalakas Jaya & Vijaya are heavily decorated.
There is a common Mandapa connecting three temples dedicated to Keshava, Janardhana & Venugopala, three different forms of Vishnu. Each temples with carved Vimana over the Garbhagriha. There is a Prakara around the Temple, with Prakara Mandapa. The outer walls of the temple are also carved with exquisite sculptures of Gods & Goddesses and different episodes of Mahabharata, Ramayana and other Puranas can be seen.
There are friezes of Gajadhara at bottom, Ashvadhara, Creepers, Yalli and Swans, all in layers, one above other.
There are 16 different ceilings, each depicting a different stage of a blooming Plantain (banana flower). Due to insufficient lighting, I could hardly take clear pictures. Best part was Photography was allowed, unfortunately, my Camera memory space was full. Clicked as many as I can with Gopro. The ceiling is decorated and carved elaborately, wondering the craftmanship of that era.
There are images of deities decorated with heavy Jewellery, After being mesmerized by the Architectural Sculptures and realizing that it was worth all the pain I took, diverting my plan from Kanchipiram to Somnathpura in the end.
I gladly clicked away pictures and bidding it adieu to catch the auto back to Bannur. Driver dropped me at Highway from there, frequent buses go to Mysore, as advised by him. Within minutes, I got bus to Mysore, took out the luggage from Cloak Room and hoped on to the train to reach Bangalore on time to catch the flight back to Mumbai.
A perfect end to the long trip! Diwali well spent!