(Last Updated on : 10/08/2015)
Chennakesava Temple is an example of Hoysala Empire
art, located at Somanathapura is one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture
. There are the relief carvings on tiered (tala) superstructure over the shrine (vimana) at Chennakesava temple. Also one can find the famous South Indian deity sculptures under eves on shrine outer wall in the Chennakesava temple.
Chennakesava Temple was built by Soma, a Dandanayaka in 1268 C.E. under Hoysala king Narasimha III, when the Hoysala Empire was the major power in South Indian political scenario.
The ceiling of the mantapa of Chennakesava Temple is supported by lathe turned pillars, a standard feature in Hoysala constructions.
Between pillars, the ceiling of Chennakesava Temple is domical and intricately decorated. These decorations could include multi-petalled lotuses, banana bud motifs based on stepped ponds and snake like (ananta) knots (symbolising eternity).
Of the three shrines of Chennakesava Temple, one shrine has the image of the god Keshava, but the image is missing from the sanctum. The other two shrines house images of Janardhana and Venugopala (all three images are forms of the Hindu god Vishnu). This is strictly a Vaishnava temple and there are no depictions of any forms of the Hindu God, Lord Shiva or Mahadeva
Other sculptures of Chennakesava Temple include of depictions of affluence of that age including members of the royal family riding richly decorated chariots, soldiers and commoners riding horses, camel drawn vehicles, dancers, musicians, hunters armed with bows and arrows and accompanied by their dogs, all heading for a hunt.
There are sculptures in Chennakesava Temple of royal palaces protected by armed guards, intricate carvings of jewellery, such as pendants, necklaces, waistbands and rings and of woman sporting hair styles that were in vogue.
The names of many architects and sculptors are etched on stone from which it is evident that the artists were both local and from outside the region. The famous sculptors of Hoysala times engraved in Chennakesava Temple among them are the locals such as Ruvari Mallithamma, Masanithamma, Chameya, Rameya, Chaudeya and Nanjeya while Pallavachari and Cholavachari are prominent artists from Tamil country.