April 14, 2016

Somnathapura : The Last Of The Hoysalas

With 3 Garbgudi. 3rd one not visible
Somnathpura is a hidden gem for those interested in temple architecture and  just about 140km from Bangalore. Even though the size of the canvas is not as big as those found in Belur or Halebid, the quality of the carvings in here can easily match those found in its more famous counterparts. Another important fact to remember is that, this is the last standing temple buitl by the Hoysala dynasty which is still preserved. This temple was built in the mid-13th century and it took nearly 50 years to complete this work of art. But the sad part is it was in use only for another 50 odd years before it was destroyed during the raids of Deccan sultanate.

Banana Flower

So on our way to Nagarhole, we decided to take a detour and visit Somanathapura too. The initial plan was to take Mysore road, have a great breakfast among the innumerable number of eateries lined up and then move towards Somanathapura via Maddur and Malavalli. But thanks to the long weekend, even before we could enter Mysore road we encountered a never ending jam. After consulting the google maps and getting to know the traffic snarls in this particular route leading all the way to Mysore , we made a quick getaway into NICE road and then into Kanakpura road. This was probably our best decision for the day. Kanakpura road had very minimal traffic and also well maintained. We averaged close to 90+ non-stop throughout the entire journey. But on the downside we couldn't find any decent eateries and hence had to reach Mysore for our brunch.

Anyhow just before reaching Mysore there is a diversion towards Somanathpura. This temple town was peaceful, with very minimal commercialization in sight. We employed a guide to take us around and to explain the intricacies of the place. He charged 300 bucks for his services. There are so many interesting features of this temple. For starters there are 3 garbagudis , arranged in a star formation which makes it all the more unique. For those interested to know Belur has 1, Halebidu has 2. Further this temple was not directly built by the ruling king, but by a local chieftain named Somanatha . Hence I assume there was pressure on him not to make this place grander than Belur or Halebid in terms of grandeur and scale.

Some of this things which are etched on the walls include very detailed events from the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha. Some sections of the temple even has carvings from the Kamasutra. Hence according to the guide the walls of the temple acted as pages of knowledge for those who didnt know the art of reading and writing in that era. Hence hiring a govt certified guide will make things interesting. Another interesting aspect were the carvings on the roof of the temple. One can see the flower of a banana tree (considered to be very auspicious in Hinduism) shown in different stages of bloom.

After spending close to 2 hrs in this peaceful place it was time to move onwards on our journey. We finally got the opportunity to visit this after missing out on it for close to 4 previous trips.  I highly recommend visiting this place for 2 reasons. First for the unique temple architecture and second for the tranquil surroundings.


  1. Wow. That certainly looks a good place for Travellingcamera to visit and explore.

    1. Yes it is a good place to explore. I am surprised as to y this place hasnt generated enough buzz among the tourists.

  2. Very neatly written.. Somanathpura temple is indeed a spectacular one.. One of the must visit places in Karnataka..

    1. Thanks for the complements :).. Yes it indeed is great place to explore

  3. Beautiful piece of story about history! This place is a must visit for people interested in ancient architecture. Also, employing a guide is worthy as they explain in detail about the structure which one cannot understand just by looking at it.

  4. I got your valuable blog in google when I search New blog and good images for feeling very happy all times –
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