The above is of the Somanathapura Temple near Mysore. It is an exquisite example of Hoysala architecture. The pic, however, doesnt do the least bit of justice to the place.
Hoysala dynasty ruled in Karnataka from about 1006 AD to the mid 14th century and were most known for their architecture and patronage of the arts. The most famous queen Shantala was an accomplished dancer who modelled for the sculptures in their temples. Such was her famed beauty. The establishing of the dynasty has a history too. I have forgotten most of my history but I do remember that there was this brave man who was instructed to kill a tiger that was troubling people. The war cry given was 'hoy-sala', meaning kill the tiger. That is how the dynasty got its name and its emblem of a man killing a tiger.
Coming to Shantala again, there is a book by that name by G V Aiyar, one of the few Kannada books I have read. I fell in love with the book. I love antique silver jewellery and got myself a thick silver anklet for one leg that looks like it came straight out of the book! They would call it 'toda' and wear it after taking a vow to die for their chosen person, the soldier in defense of the king, brother for the protection of his sister, etc. I dont have such intentions but it is my favourite piece of jewellery and I rarely remove it.
The temple now. I think I have written about Belur and Halebid, my most favourite places on Earth. I shall write about them in detail when I have the pics to go with them. The temple in the pic above was built in the same style in 1268 AD by the army commander of the dynasty, Somanath. It is star shaped and covered with sculptures all over the place. The temple has layers of elephants to support the temple, floral designs, stories from the epics, etc.
Compared to the busier Belur and Halebid, this place is more laid back and much quieter. The lush green lawns are a sight for sore eyes, a welcome relief from the harsh tropical sun. A lazy dog, actually there are many, looks at you from a corner and is good enough to wag its tail when called. Like every tourist spot, there are souvenir shops that are overly high priced. But the temple is beautiful, much more than that in fact. Go. Get immersed in history and come back inspired.
By the way, the slogan for Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSDTC) is "Theatre of Inspiration".