The grandeur of Somnathpur

The small village of Somnathpur contains an extraordinary temple, built around 1268 A.D. by the Hoyasalas of Karnataka — one of the most prolific temple-builders. Belur and Halebid are among their better-known works. While these suffered during the invasions of the 14th century, the Somnathpur temple stands more or less intact in near-original condition. Even the frayed postcards thrust on me by importunate peddlers at the entrance testified to its architectural splendour.

This small temple captivates with the beauty and vitality of its detailed sculpture, covering almost every inch of the walls, pillars and even ceilings. It has three shikharas and stands on a star-shaped, raised platform with 24 edges.

Interestingly, many images on the outer walls carry names of the artists carved on their pedestals — Mallitamma (lots of credits), Baleya, Yelamasaya and Choudeya. Signed works of art as at any current art gallery!

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