A, D and I visited the Somnathapur temple. It was built around 1268 by Hoysala king, Narasimha III. (The Hoysalas were quite the dynasty in these parts.)
The inner temple has lovely ceilings inspired by the petals of lotus flowers. The focus of the inner temple are the three sanctorum. Each holds a statue — or “vigraha” — depicting an incarnation of Krishna: Janardhana, Venugopala (Krishna playing the flute) and, in the sanctum-sanctorum, Keshava (this statue is actually a replacement, as the original has been lost to time).
The columns which support the colonnade appear to be turned on a lathe, they are so smooth. This columns were designed to resemble traditional brass lamps, called “samays.”
I understand that there are (at least) 2 kinds of Hindu temples: Vaishnava temples with depictions of Vishnu and Shiv (or Shaivite) temples with depictions of Shiva. Somanthapur is a Vaishnava.
It was somewhat similar to temples I visited in Cambodia (e.g., Angkor Wat — originally a Vaishnava Hindu temple built in the 1100’s); both have a perfectly square shaped wall surrounding an inner temple structure, and the inside of the wall is lined with colonnades and small rooms. It also reminded me of the Champa temple ruins in My Son Vietnam –which stands to reason since the Champa were Hindu, originating from India, and the My Son temples are thought to have been built in the same time frame as Somnathapur.
DISCLAIMER: I’m trying to learn about the temples, so I apologize if I’ve misstated anything here. Please don’t take this as authoritative — it’s not; it is just my current understanding, subject to my misinterpretations!
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