Temple at Somnath-pur 51244
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the Keshava Temple at Somnathpur, taken by an unknown photographer in the 1860s. The Keshava Temple was erected in 1268 by Somanatha, a Hoysala general of Narasimha III. The Hoysala was a very powerful dynasty that ruled in South India from the 11th to the 14th centuries. They were prolific temples builders and their main centres were Halebid, their capital, Belur and Somnathpur. The Keshava Temple is dedicated to Keshava, the god Vishnu under his three aspects. It consists of three shrines approached through a pillared mandapa or hall. The shrines are built on a star, almost circular plan and are situated in the middle of a courtyard. On the outer walls of the temple, at the lower levels, there are friezes with elephants, horses, makaras (mythical sea-creatures), geese and foliated scrolls. A procession of gods richly encrusted with jewels and ornaments is set in the various projections of the walls created by the stellate plan of the sanctuaries. Above the panels, pilasters support miniature towers and an angled eave with a fringe projects above. This view shows the shikhara or tower of one of the shrines. The diminishing storeys are decorated with pot motifs and foliated arched niches with miniature deities.