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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

History of Somanāthapura[edit]

Somanātha, who was a minister of the king Narasiṅha of the Hoysala dynasty, is said to have built this as an agrahara.[1] He built two temples, one for Viṣṇu and the other for Śiva in A. D. 1258. Viṣṇu temples is known as the Keśava temple and the Śiva temple is known as the Pañcaliṅgeśvara temple.


Location of Somanāthapura[edit]

Somanāthapura is a small town 40 kms. from the Mysore city, Karnataka. The Keśava temple stands in the center of the courtyard measuring 65 metres[2] by 35 metres.[3]

Keśava Temple[edit]

The Keśava temple stands in the center of the courtyard measuring 65 metres[4] by 35 metres.[5] It has three sanctums and three towers, each of 9 1/2 metres[6] height. The whole structure is on a jagati[7] almost a meter high. Attached to the high prākāra[8] there are 64 verandah-like structures with pillars.

The towers[9] of the sanctum have a few beautiful sculptures. The vimānas are capped with inverted lotus like structures.The prākāra has three rows of figures depicting scenes form the Rāmāyana, the Mahābhārata and the Bhāgavata. Out of the three garbhagṛhas or sanctums, the central one is empty. It is said to have contained the image of Keśava. The other two shrines contain the images of Janārdana and Veṇugopāla.[10] Some of the beautifully carved images are those of:

  1. Nṛtyagaṇapati
  2. Nṛtyalakṣmī
  3. Indra on his royal elephant Airāvata
  4. Kurmāvatāra - Tortoise incarnation
  5. Durgā
  6. Sarasvatī
  7. Paraśurāma

The Keśava temple is an excellent specimen of Hoysala Architecture, rivaling the ones in Belur and Halebīḍu.

Śiva Temple[edit]

The Śiva temple has five sanctums for five aspects of Śiva:

  1. Bijjaleśvara
  2. Pergaḍeśvara
  3. Revaleśvara
  4. Bayiraleśvara
  5. Somanātheśvara

Though these shrines are independent, they have a common verandah or portico.


  1. Agrahara means a small township for brāhmaṇas.
  2. It is approximately 218 ft.
  3. It is approximately 117 ft.
  4. It is approximately 218 ft.
  5. It is approximately 117 ft.
  6. It is approximately 32 ft.
  7. Jagati means platform.
  8. Prākāra means boundary wall.
  9. Towers are also called vimāna.
  10. Veṇugopāla means an aspects of Viṣṇu.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

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