Somnathpur, also known as Somnathpura, lies in the Mysore district, Karnataka. This little town is located at a distance of 35 Kilometres from the City of Mysore.

Somnathpur was set up during the 13th century and was ruled by rich and powerful rulers. The Hoysalas were the last dynasty that ruled this region. They had played a major role in constructing temples in the region and surrounding places.

This town is home to the famous Chennakeshava Temple built by the Hoysala commander, Somnath, in 1268 A.D is a live example of the heritage and culture of the Hoysala Empire and this temple was constructed using the soapstone.  A monumental beauty, the architectural design of this temple attracts people from all over the world.  The Archaeological Survey of India has declared it as a heritage site.  The Talakad Panchalinga Temple is another popular place for pilgrims. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is known for the Pathaleshwara Shivalinga the color of which is red during the morning, black at noon and white in the evening.

The Chennakesava Temple, also referred to as Keshava Temple, is a Vaishnava Hindu temple on the banks of River Kaveri at Somanathapura. The temple was consecrated in 1258 CE by Somanatha Dandanayaka, a general of the Hoysala King Narasimha III. It is located 38 kilometres east of Mysore city.

The ornate temple is a model illustration of the Hoysala architecture. The temple is enclosed in a courtyard with a pillared corridor of small shrines. The main temple in the center is on a high star-shaped platform with three symmetrical sanctums (garbha-griha), set in a square matrix oriented along the east-west and north-south axes.

The western sanctum was for a statue of Kesava (missing), the northern sanctum of Janardhana and the southern sanctum of Venugopala, all forms of Vishnu. The sanctums share a common community hall (sabha-mandapa) with many pillars. The outer walls, the inner walls, the pillars and the ceiling of the temple are intricately carved with theological iconography of Hinduism and display extensive friezes of Hindu texts such as the Ramayana (southern section), the Mahabharata (northern section) and the Bhagavata Purana (western section of the main temple).

The most characteristic feature of this temple is its 16 different ceilings, each depicting a different stage of a blooming plantain (banana flower). Small and large pieces of finely carved stone chips are set in complicated patterns. One of the main highlights of this temple is the central wall space. There are images of deities decorated with heavy jewellery, bangles on every arm, towering crowns and chunky anklets. The vimana over the sanctums have greatly carved images of gods.

This is one of the three Hoysala temples nominated for UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

Talakad Panchalinga Temples 

Talakadu is a desert-like town on the left bank of the Kaveri the vicinity of Somnathpur. It once had over 30 temples, most of which now lay buried in sand. The extant group of temples, where the eastward flowing Kaveri river changes course as the sand on its banks spreads over a wide area, is a popular pilgrimage site for the Hindus.

Among the temples of Talakadu, the Pathaleshwara, Maruleshwara, Arkeshwara, Vaidyanatheshwara and Mallikarjuna temples, the five Lingas believed to represent the five faces of Shiva, form the Pancha pathi and have become famous.

Amongst these, Vaidyanatheshwara temple is the most popular. Pathaleshwara Shivalinga is also known for its colour changing property, as per which it can be seen in red in the morning, black in the afternoon and white in the evening. Pancha Linga of Talakad is often visited before 4 pm as the temples gets submerged in the water. Kirti Narayana temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, which was constructed during the Vijayanagara period, is yet another attraction of the place. Panchalinga Darshana, conducted once in every 12 years, is a famous occasion at Talakad.



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