Somanathapura, situated at an easy driving distance of 32 km from the heart of the city, lies on the left banks of the River Kaveri. Also famous for its Sri Channakeshava temple or Keshava Temple, Somanathapura ranks high on the list of devotees and tourists in the region. This temple was built way back in 1268 AD and is world renowned for its Hoysala style architecture and exquisite carvings –which transform it into one of the most magnificent structures in South India.
This unique temple is designed like a mini cosmos and showcases intricate carvings that depict various musicians, dancing women, Gods, Goddesses and animals so forth. This temple was commissioned by Somnath, who was an army commander in the reign of Narasimha III--the famous ruler of Hoyasala. He had founded and named the village of Somnathapura after himself. Here, you will find a slab that has inscriptions in old Kannada script. The slab narrates the tale of the actualization of the village and its adjoining temple.
In modern times, Sri Channakeshava temple is managed by the Archaeological Survey of India and has the distinction of being one of the best maintained ancient architectures of India. In the earlier days, the sanctum sanctorum of this temple had carved idols of Lord Janardhana, Lord Keshava and Lord Venugopala. The famous idol of Lord Keshava is now absent from the temple. Though not as reputed as the famous temples of Habeid and Belur, Keshava Temple was constructed in the same time and continues to attract visitors from across the globe. It provides a remarkable representation of the period's architecture, as it did not suffer as much destruction as that endured by these other two temples.