Keshava Temple

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The Keshava temple in Somnathpur, near the city of Mysore in the Indian state of Karnataka, is the last major temple of the Hoysala dynasty. Somnathpur is around 38 kilometers from Mysore, Karnataka state. The Keshava temple is the best-preserved most complete monument of Hoysala architecture. The temple is believed to have been built (around AD 1268) under Somnatha, a general in the army of Narasimha III.


The entire temple was built on a broad platform to enable devotees to perform a pradakshina of the temple and to view the wonderful carvings on the outer wall surface. The platform on which the temple stands is guarded by seated lions. The actual temple base rises straight out of the platform and is composed of a series of bands that wind around the star form of the building. The shrines sit at the center of a courtyard bounded by a rectangular perimeter of cloisters and subsidiary shrines. An entrance pavilion is set into the east side of the courtyard.

In Hindu cosmology the universe is carried on the shoulders of powerful celestial guardian elephants. In these temples there are several elephants holding up the temple, which is symbolically a miniature universe. Each elephant is different in stance and poise and is beautifully bejeweled and decorated with chains and bells.

Every corner and angular projection of the central wall space of the temples is inhabited by familiar deities. They appear in all their glory, adorned with heavy jewels, towering crowns,...
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