Somanathapura Keshava temple

by Lawrence Rodrigues and Vanishree Mahesh

Somanathapura, Keshava temple, Front view

A Masterpiece of Hoysala Temple Art

Famous for its Keshava temple, Somanathapura is a small village in the T. Narsipura Taluk of Mysore district situated half a mile from the river Kaveri. It is about 20 miles south of the historic town of Srirangapattana and 24 miles from Mysore. The Keshava temple in Somanathapura is another architecturally sound and artistically rich temple from the Hoysala rulers.

From a 91-line stone inscription written in both Kannada and Sanskrit and placed at the left side of the temple entrance (epigraphia Carnatica, T-Narasipura 97,) we learn that Somanatha, a commanding officer under the Hoysala King Veera Narasimha III (AD 1254-1291), established Somanathapura as an agrahara which is a rent-free settlement for Brahmins who were learned men and priests. Naming the town after himself, Commander Somanatha built the Keshava temple in 1268.

Another inscription found in the village of Harihara, refers to the Somanathapura agrahara thus : The agrahara was so full of learned men, that even the parrots there were capable of holding discussions in Mimamsa (critical investigation), tarka (science of dialectics, logic and reasoning), and Vyakarana (the study of grammar and linguistic analysis.) This is an exaggeration but demonstrates respect towards the leaned and the royal patronage for the same.

The temple is now maintained by ASI, the Archaeological Survey of India. (Note: Quoting Archaeological Survey of India, ASI is an Indian government agency attached to the Ministry of Culture responsible for archaeological research and the conservation and preservation of cultural monuments in the country.)

Keshava temple, Somanathapura, Stone inscription