26th January 2011 – Ek raasta… Do rahi… aha aha!! That’s what we ( Sravanti and me) both felt like on the early morning of 26th jan 2011 when we set out for a road trip to Somanathapur in southern Karnataka.
We hit Kanakpura road by 7.00 a.m. and were delighted by the smooth drive with minimal traffic on that road. After leaving the city behind, we could see some amazing scenes on both sides of the road – wide expanses of water with fields of lilies strewn over the calm surface, hump-backed mountains with puffs of clouds hovering overhead, gorgeous banyans with spaghetti like roots hanging by the dozen……… Every scene made us want to stop the car and click pictures.
We wolfed down our packed sandwiches while driving and stopped at a local bakery enroute to check for directions and pick up some more goodies to eat.
We had to stick to NH209 (Kanakpura road) and had to detour slightly via Malvalli town to get back on track. We were quite delighted with the road quality and made good time to reach Somanathpur by 10.00 a.m. The road signs were few but helpful passerbys more than made up for it.
Somnathpur is a small village on the banks of river Cauvery and said to be founded by a Hoysala army commander Somnath. The temple compound was beautiful, with a high wall all around and wide open green stretches surrounding the main temple complex. We collected our tickets (5/-) at the ticket counter and walked up a pathway to the temple entrance. A small porch overhang marks the entrance; it has some very beautifully lathe worked columns in stone.
The main temple itself is on a star shaped base with intricately carved freizes depicting cavalary, elephants, horses, poses of deities, etc. The entire temple has star like folds – all carved with amazing dexterity. The temple itself has three profusely carved pinnacles or shrines and a common Navranga. The three inner sanctum on the West, North and the South used to hold idols of Kesava, Venugopala, and Janardhan. It is an ornately carved temple of magnificent craftsmanship depicting Vishnu, Lakshmi, Ganesha, Saraswati, Rati-manmatha, and Mahishasura. The carvings inside are as intricate as the ones on the outside walls – truly a piece of art!!
There are inscriptions engraved on a slab standing at the entrance, inside the temple, dated from 1269 to 1550 A.D. that detail the construction of the temple and the grants made to it.
We encountered bus loads of foreign and local tourists at the temple, surprising us with the popularity of this temple. What was even more amazing was the German, French speaking Indian guides with these groups who were explaining the entire architecture in detail to the foreigners.
Couple of hours later, we decided to take a break under a large tree and sat down to munch on our goodies. Within minutes we were surrounded by hordes of crows, begging us for some good. The buggers were so bold as to fly in close and peck us to prompt us to throw food at them. One of the temple employees came to our rescue with a broom as he shooed the birds away.
We had seen a board declaring the way towards Talakkad; curious we decided to head onwards to it. The road to Talakkad from Somanathapur was potholed and a total mess. We were disappointed on reaching the temple as it was a modern one and not an ancient one like Somanathapur. Worse, there were hordes of tourists – everywhere we could see huge surges of people. We decided to abandon the temple and stake out a spot by the Cauvery river. We followed some arrows and reached a spot which looked like a carnival was in progress. The shores were jam packed with people; half of whom were jumping in the water. This was so not our scene and we abandoned it to head for a quieter spot, which we found a few kilometers away.
We parked the car and lazed under a huge banyan by the river while a crew worked on emptying a sand barrage. Soon the guy started punting the upturned bowl on the river for his next load. Meanwhile, loads of birds frolicked on the water surface closeby. The quiet of the surroundings, blue of the river, wide shady canopy of the banyan tree and the immense span of the waters was so soothing to the soul; we felt we could while away atleast a couple of hours here.
Atlast, we shook ourselves of our reverie and it was time to head back to Bangalore. With a short stop at the Barista on the Bangalore-Mysore highway, we made good time back home.
Route : Kothnur – Somanahalli – Harohalli- Kanakpura – Sathanur – Halaguru – Malavalli – Somanathapur (Distance of about 150 kms from Bangalore)
Temple is open from 8.30-5.30
Entry fee – 5/- Indian nationals and no camera fees
Simply loved the Toilet facility at this monument – neat clean toilets with no bad odour.
Be prepared for loads of restoration works happening here; construction material, etc dumped around