On the way back home from our safari, I made the call to stop in Somnathpur at a very famous temple called Keshava temple. My driver was very grumpy about the idea and so were the kids. They all wanted to go home. But this temple is one of the best examples of Hoysala architecture in all of India. The temple was built in the 1200s out of soapstone and has intricate carvings. It took 500 people 50 years to coplate it. Since the Moguls plundered it twice it is no longer an active place of worship, which was great for us because meant we could take all the photos we wished.
The Hoysalas were “a mighty martial race who ruled large parts of present day Karnataka between 1100 and 1320 AD.” This stone tablet inside the temple main gate contain inscriptions in ancient Kannada script (the local language of the region) containing details of about the construction of the temple as well as details of ongoing archeological work.
It stands on middle of a walled compound encircled by a verandah with 64 cells ( almost all the cells are empty now ).
The Temple is built up on a raised platform, star shaped .The outer walls are divided into different layers the lower layer contains the scenes of daily life like people riding elephants etc while the middle ones contains exquisitely curved gods and goddesses
Inside the temple are three incaranations of Krishna
We finally found a guide who could speak good English and he showed us all the details of the carvings—the names of the Hindu gods and goddesses. The outside walls of the main temple is covered with intricately curved out figures in stone, scenes from Ramayanas, Krishnas life (like Krishna killing the poisonous serpent of Kaliya) , Vishnu, scenes of daily life people riding on elephant .There are 194 images in all and around 40 of them have been curved by master sculptor Mallitamma.
Below are images of Ganesha the elephant and of a swan feeding its babies.
Kaden loves anything of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, light, wisdom, courage, and good fortune (above).
I love Sarashwathi, goddess of knowledge, music, arts and sciences.
The temple also had mythical creatures, such as this “rhinosaurous” It combines the best features of six animals. Lion feet, crocodile mouth, cow ears, monkey eyes, and so on. Carson loved that.
My driver was grumpy for the rest of the trip, but it was worth it. I came home very happy indeed. The place is considered a national treasure and I can see why. Such artistry preserved over generations. Todd came home happy too because on the way through Mysore we stopped so that he could visit the palace and market that the kids and I visited during our last trip there. The kids were asleep in the car, and I sat with them and worked on an article while Todd hopped out to do some touring. So in one day, Todd was on a safari, saw a maharaja’s temple, toured an old market, and saw one of the most historic temples in India. My job is done!
On our trip this weekend, here are some kiddos who waved to us on our way:
We also saw lots of rural villagers bringing water back to their houses. Some have to walk a mile or more to bring fresh water to their homes.
These little girls below touched my heart. The didn’t look older than Kaden and they were carrying really heavy water jugs to their homes.
Here’s where their homes are–tarps in a field.
We also saw a cemetery during our travels. Rare since cremation is the preferred method in India. Can you imagine if all Indians wanted to be buried in a cemetery? With so many people it would be quite a space crunch.