Structure of Chennakesava Temple
Chennakesava Temple stands on a raised platform in the centre of a spacious enclosure having 64 cells. This three celled structure known as Trikutachala consists of three Garbhagrihas, three Antaralas and a Navarang. It has a Mahadwara standing on the east.
The temple was originally dedicated to the worship of three forms of Lord Krishna — Venugopala, Janardhana and Kesava. The images of Venugopala, Kesava and Janardhana are installed in the cells which are surmounted by elegantly carved Shikharas. The interior of the shrine with ornately carved panels, pillars, ceiling, doorways and bracket figures are considered to be even more attractive compared to the outer walls.
The basement of the outer wall is highly ornamented with friezes of elephants, scrolls, epic and puranic scenes, small images with intervening turrets and columns with figured in between number of Gods and Goddess and their attendants adorn the walls. The friezes on the south side of the temple depict scenes from Ramayana, the rear side has the stories of Lord Krishna and the northern side has the tales of Mahabharata. The lathe turned pillars and delicately carved 16 different types of ceilings are the characteristic feature of the Hoyasala Art. The beautifully carved Hoysala emblem, depicting a man fighting a tiger at the three gateways of the temple is noteworthy.
Present Condition of Chennakesava Temple
A classic example of the famous Hoysala architecture, and is one of the three temples of the kind to be nominated in the UNESCO World Heritage list. Unfortunately, this temple is no longer used as a place of worship, the main idol of Kesava is missing and the idols of Venugopala and Janardhana are damaged. However, the beauty of the temple still charms thousands of visitors.