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Keshava Temple, Somnathpura, Karnataka
The Keshava temple in Somnathpur, a small village on the banks of the river Cauvery, near the city of Mysore (38 kilometers away) in Karnataka, is believed to have been built (around AD 1268) under Somnatha (a general in the army of Narasimha III) of the Hoysala dynasty. The temple is famous for its elaborate and intricate sculpturing. The Keshava temple is the best-preserved monument of Hoysala architecture. 
The temple is enclosed in a walled courtyard that has a gate and a porch. The temple is built on an elevated star shaped platform. The platform on which the temple stands is guarded by seated lions. The actual temple base rises straight out of the platform and is composed of a series of bands that wind around the star form of the building. The shrines sit at the center of a courtyard bounded by a rectangular perimeter of cloisters and subsidiary shrines. An entrance pavilion is set into the east side of the courtyard.
Every corner and angular projection of the central wall space of the temples is inhabited by familiar deities. They appear in all their glory, adorned with heavy jewels, towering crowns, bangles on every arm and chunky anklets on their feet.

The sides of the raised platform are decorated with richly carved friezes, portraying rows of cavalry, elephants and scenes from the epics. The rows above have sculptures of Gods mainly Vishnu in various forms. The shrine has three shrines and three sanctums. The temple has three intricately carved pinnacles and a common Navranga. The northern sanctum has the idol of Lord Janardhana and the southern sanctum has the idol of Lord Venugopala. The main hall has exquisitely turned pillars and ceiling panels. The image of Lord Keshava that once adorned the main hall is missing today.

The temple is an example of the grand and glorious temples built by the Hoysala rulers. The names of the sculptors are inscribed on their works, which was a common practice during the reign of the Hoysalas. This temple is as beautiful as the world-renowned Belur and Halebid temples and is worth visiting while is Mysore.

The best part of the temple is on the inside because nothing as varied and magnificent exists elsewhere. Besides the three superb Vaishnavaite images and two stellate pillars, the interior has a set of sixteen ceilings, each one different, each one packed with carvings in numerous variations. There are some famous ones that resemble a banana flower in different stages of inflorescence. There are concentric circles, one linked to the other by stone ribs. Likewise, there are octogonal ceilings. All these are built on the image of a lotus opening up from its bud to outer rings of petals. 

 

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