Somanathapura Keshava Temple: Stele with an inscription erected inside the Mahadvara pavilion

A stone slab with an inscription erected inside the Mahadvara (main door) pavilion of the Somanathapura Keshava Temple in Karnataka, India

A stone slab with an inscription inside the Mahadvara (main door) pavilion

Stele with an inscription in Kannada
The image shows a stone slab inscribed in Halegannada (Old Kannada) with the dates and details of the construction of the Somanathapura Keshava Temple located 25 miles southeast of Mysore in Karnataka, India. It is erected inside a pavilion of the Mahadvara, the main entrance where the visitors enter the temple.

According to the inscription, Somanatha, a Dandanayaka (military leader) serving under the King Narasimha III (1254 – 1291 CE), took the permission from his king to build a temple and established an agrahara (area allocated for religious purpose) and named it Vidhyanidhi Prasanna Somanathapura (Treasure of Knowledge, Auspicious, Somanathapura) for this purpose. Somanatha also allotted grants for the maintenance of the temple.

As you can see from the image, the top part of the stone slab is arched. Enclosed within the arch are three sculptural reliefs depicting Venugopala, Keshava, and Janardhana, each representing a form of Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu. These reliefs are the replications of the idols installed in the south, west, and north garbhagrihas (inner sanctums), respectively.

There are two more reliefs at the ends of the arch; On the left is the kneeling Garuda (Vishnu’s vehicle), and on the right is a cow with its calf, indicating that Krishna is a gopala, the protector of cows.

Adorning the pinnacle of the arch is the figure of a ferocious monster with bulging eyes and huge fangs. Known as Kirthimukha (and sometimes as Kala), this monstrous figure is a common element – typically placed at the top – in Hindu and Buddhist temples in India and Southeast Asia.

Related Pages
Somanathapura Keshava Temple – A Masterpiece of Hoysala Temple Art
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Exterior
Kappe Chennigaraya Temple
Badami Cave – 1, Badami Cave – 2, Badami Cave – 3, Badami Cave – 4

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