The origin of the Hoysalas is a matter of much interesting speculation and controversy. Like their distinguished contemporaries, the Seunas, the Hoysalas too claim their descent from Yadu (Lunar Dynasty) and call themselves the Yadavas. The conventional titles like, "Yadavanarayana", "Yadavakutambrad-yumani" and "Dvaravatipura-varadhisvara" are common to both the Seunas and the Hoysalas. These details are compiled from internet and by various sources by the Blogger over the years.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chenna Kesava Temple & Someshwara Temple (1234 A.D), Haranahalli, Arasikere Taluk Hassan District.

Haranahalli is a small town situated about eight kilometers to the south of Arsikere on the main road leading towards Hassan. This town is called by various other names. While some people call it Haruvanahalli, the others refer to it as Hiriya Somanathapura. Haranahalli is well known for its beautiful temples, the prominent ones among them being the Kesava and the Someshvara temples that are renowned for the Hoysala style of architecture.

The Kesava temple (popularly known as Lakshmi Narasimha temple) is situated in the center of this old Hoysala town. The records reveal that three brothers -Peddanna Heggade, Somanna and Keshanna- obtained a free site from the natives and constructed the temple in 1234 AD. The Hoysala king Narasimha II bestowed the brothers with more acres of land later for the development of the temple.

Mallitamma, one of the best-known Hoysala sculptors of the 13th century, is the main sculptor of the Kesava temple. He is believed to have worked for the Nuggehalli, Hosaholalu and Somanathapura temples also.

The wall above the basement is horizontally divided into two halves. Above the cornice is a row of turrets borne on single or double pilasters. The Kesava temple is constructed on a platform, which is about four feet tall. The basement is divided horizontally into five flat cornices each bearing a frieze of sculptures. This includes a long creeper scroll band and separate rows of yakshas and yakshinis, horsemen, makaras and swans.

The lower half of the wall has 140 images including those of Dharani Varaha with Hiranyaksha, Dakshinmurthi, Bhairava, Kalingamardhana, Rati Manmatha, Govardhanadhari, Durga, Harihara, Vamana, the six-handed Veenasaraswati, Brahma, Lord Vishnu with Lakshmi, Mahishasuramardhini, Kodanda Rama, Lakshmi Narasimha, Parashurama, Balarama, Trivikrama, Kesava, Mohini and Arjuna, among others.

The hall, navaranga, with an extra ankana on the east has niches of Saraswati, Ganesha, Lakshmi and Bhudevi. The four pillars of the navaranga have the usual lathe turned bell-shaped designs with fine beaded work. The ceilings are artistically done in various shapes such as concentric circles, eight-pointed star, eight-petalled concentric padmas etc.

The south cell doorway flanked by dwarapalas has finely-done jambs with star-shaped pilasters. On the Garuda pedestal in the cell stands a fine image of Venugopala. The doorway of the north cell has a sculpture of Lakshmi Narasimha, who is flanked by Prahlada, Garuda and a large numbers of devotees. The sanctum doorway of the temple is beautifully carved to perfection.

The Someshvara temple situated about 200 meters to the northeast of Kesava temple is also very similar in workmanship, but different in architectural plan. While the Kesava temple has three cells and one entrance, the Someshvara temple has only one cell and three entrances. Though there is no mention about the year of construction of the temple in any inscription, it is believed to have been built around the same time the Kesava temple was constructed.

A high platform with five cornices runs across the temple following the outline. The basement has five flat-faced cornices with friezes of elephants, horsemen, swans, etc. The wall is divided into upper and lower halves, above which is the usual row of pilasters bearing turrets of varied shapes.

Some of the images on the wall include those of Tandava Ganesha, Mohini, Dharani-Varaha, Harihara, Trivikrama, Lakshmi, Durga, Bhairava, Govard-hanadhari, Mahishasuramardhini, Venugopala, the eight-handed dancing Saraswati, Parvati standing with Ganesha and Kumara, the six-handed dancing Shiva, Kalingamardhana, the three-headed beardless Brahma and the six-handed Tandaveshwara, among others.

The tower of the temple made of soapstone has four tiers of turrets, which are ornamented with images of Yaksha, Tandaveshwara and others. The projection over the tower is ornamented with fine-beaded work.

The navaranga has nine ankanas and three extensions to the east, south and north. It also has six niches including those of Saptamatrika, Saraswati, Mahishasuramardhini, Ganesha, Shanmuka etc. The four central pillars are in the shape of a round bell, while the remaining six are star-shaped. The two pillars near the doorway (east) are more ornate and their bases have sculptured panels of Kailasa lifting Ravana, Govardhanagiridhari, Venugopala and others.

The navaranga has twelve artistic ceilings in varied shapes such as octagonal circles, concentric circles and octagons. The sanctum doorway has a flat padma ceiling.


  1. Felt so moved by Narasimha haranahalli picture.
    im a great admirer of hoysala architecture...and a ardent devotee of LakshmiNarasimhar.
    please keep up the good work...

  2. I would like to Visit as early as Possibale,,from the Blessing of Harnahalli