“Where is this Somnathpura?“
“Why are we going to Somnathpura?“
“We need to walk a lot, Chinnu!“
“It’s like a school trip!”
“We can probably go somewhere else, a little more far from Bangalore.”
“We need to go to Wonderla.”
These were all the statements that my family made or asked.
PIN for later reference
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A little bit of context
After several plannings, bookings, re-bookings, and cancellations in the past, I never ended up going to Somnathpura with my friends. I was visiting my family in Bangalore from Sydney, after a year, so why not plan for a day trip with them, I thought. A perfect way to blend as a family. I shared the thought with my two cousins, Veena and Megha, who were equally excited. After a lot of planning, re-planning, voting, negotiating and the number of people responding, 12 ladies (whom I call the pillars of my family ?) ended up for the family trip (‘Talk about the collective strength of women power‘).
Chennakesava temple in Somnathpura
There are two Chennakesava temples built during the Hoysala Empire, the big one is at Belur and the mini version is at Somnathpura. The latter is what I am currently talking about. To give a bit of history, the Chennakesava temple was built in the 13th century and is one of the marvellous examples of Hoysala architecture. The temple was built by Somanatha Dandanayaka, a general of Hoysala King.
The temple is open between 9 AM and 5:30 PM everyday and there is an entrance fee of INR 5 for Indian nationals and INR 100 for foreign nationals. It takes around 3 hours to explore the temple.
Hoysala architecture is known for its beautiful carvings and sculptures.
On the day of the visit
The distance between Bangalore to Somnathpura is approximately 140 kilometres (3 hours drive one way). And it is around 35 kilometres from Mysore city. The best way to get on a public transport is by taking a train from Bangalore to Srirangapatna and then taking a local bus to Somnathpura. The train tickets can be booked on IRCTC website.
We were driving from Bangalore. Three of my cousins, Veena, Pammu, and Naveen had coordinated and organized a tempo traveler that would accommodate all of us in one vehicle.
The trip started off with the family updates and catching up. As and when we drove farther from Bangalore, everyone settled in and became more and more comfortable. We had some music, singing and dance on the way.
After 3 hours of drive, we finally reached the temple. The temple has a minimal entrance fee, which can be purchased at the gate. The guard at the entrance did not allow my tripod to be taken inside the premises (No clue why!). Even though I was upset a little, I was distracted and deviated by the beautiful high walled enclosure that was surrounding the temple. Being the photographic addict family we are, we clicked some pictures in front of the walled enclosure.
As we entered the temple, I realized why it was one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture. The temple is at an elevated platform and is in a star shape. I was awed by its beauty.
There are plenty of Hoysala temples around Karnataka and my friend and I recently went on an exploration trip to Arsikere, read Hoysala trail in Arsikere.
Tip: Hire a guide as the guide will give you a lot of details and history about the temple. There are government authorised guides, so make sure you hire only them.
One can only take photographs and videos of the exterior of the temple. Taking pictures of videos inside the temple is not allowed.
The outer walls of the temple are decorated with marvellous pieces of sculptures.
The lower part of the walls have sculptures of soldiers on horses, elephants and scenes from Hindu mythological stories.
The upper part of the walls have sculptures of various Hindu Gods, especially Lord Vishnu in his different avatars.
We hired a guide, based on my sister-in-law Manju’s suggestion (no doubt! It was a very good idea). The guide seemed knowledgeable but he was short-tempered and had a problem with me specifically. He was angry with me, because of my inquisitiveness. Well, I asked him too many questions (Can you believe that! And I was thought asking questions were good). Nevertheless, he explained the history, details, and importance of the temple and sculptures.
One of the most interesting sculptures that the guide spoke about was that of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. In this sculpture, the Goddess Lakshmi sits on Lord Vishnu’s lap, resting one of her feet on a lotus flower. And the lotus flower is supported by an elephant, to hold the weight of her feet. This clearly proves the sculptor’s eye to detail.
There are many pillars inside the temple, each one designed differently from the other. The octagonal ceilings resemble the lotus flower. And the temple is said to have had three idols – Lord Kesava, Lord Janardhana and Lord Venugopala. However, the idol of Lord Kesava is missing currently.
All of us were clearly overwhelmed by the beauty of the temple. The structures and the sculptures, showed the amazing artistic skills the craftsmen carried. Each sculpture has been well thought through and has every little detail that anyone can think of. This makes me realize how rich India is with respect to the history and the skills. We have such spectacular monuments that we must be really proud of.
Coming back to my family, the giggles, gossips, dancing and the ongoing snacks helped all of us bond more closely with each other. Our entertainer throughout the trip was my niece, Disha, who constantly kept all of us happily busy (except for her mom as she was busy controlling her).
Some of us were quiet and the rest was super talkative (I am not sure which side I belong to). Some were introverts and the rest were extroverts. But all in all, it was an awesome fun-packed day and one of the best trips I have had with my family in recent times.
Is it safe for solo female travelers?
Yes, visiting this temple is very safe for solo female travelers. It is a religious place and hence any kind of nuisance is not tolerated. However, like any other place trust your instinct and be cautious especially at nights.
Also, please respect the religious sentiments and do not wear short clothes.
Since not many are aware of this temple, the temple is untouched and less crowded. I would definitely say that this is the place to explore and learn with your camera. The temple offers so many photographic opportunities. And this temple is a must-visit for people, especially Bangaloreans, who love their short weekend travels. It also makes up a great one day trip from Bangalore.