The Hoysala Empire was a prominent South Indian empire that ruled most of
the modern day state of Karnataka between the 10th and the 14th centuries
The Hoysala era was an important period in the development of art, architecture,
and religion in South India. The empire is remembered today primarily for its
The Hoysala rulers also patronised the fine arts, encouraging literature to
flourish in Kannada and Sanskrit.
Hoysalas’ conquired Cholas’ (1026) and established their strong base over the
south India and Vijayanagaras’ stopped the rule in 1342.
Vishnuvardhana (1108–1152) is considered as the greatest ruler of this empire.
He introdused the Hoysala Δrchitecture to the world.
an offshoot of the Western Chalukya style, shows distinct Dravidian
is described as Karnata Dravida as distinguished from the traditional
Dravida, and is considered an independent architectural tradition with
many unique features.
In both Māru-Gurjara Architecture and Hoysala Temple Architecture,
architecture, sculptures have more influence.
The very great attraction of this style is to exquisite detail and skilled
Veeranarayana Temple in Belavadi
Amrutesvara Temple in Chikkamagaluru
Ishvara Temple, Arasikere
The Chennakesava Temple is one of the finest examples of
This temple was built by Soma, a Dandanayaka (commander) in
1268 under Hoysala king Narasimha III, when the Hoysala
Empire was the major power in South India
The outer walls of all these temples contain an intricate array of
stone sculptures and horizontal friezes (decorative mouldings)
that depict the Hindu epics.
The temple is housed inside an impressive high wall and the
entrance to the complex is through a porch with tall lathe-turned
The material used for the temple is chloritic schist or soapstone.
The main reasons that make the Keshava temple standout amidst
the large number of Hoysala monuments are its symmetrical
architecture, fine sculptures on equally prominent shrines, and a
temple that is surrounded by panels forming a cloister.
It was built by the famous architect/sculptor Ruvari Malithamma
(12 Cent.) who was well-known for his expertise in ornamentation.
The temple which is built on a jagati (raised platform) is a trikuta
(triple shrined) and fully satisfies the terminology as all vimanas
(shrines) have a superstructure (tower)
Inside the temple, each vimana has a vestibule (large entrance)
that connects it to the main rectangular mantapa (hall).
The wide jagati invites devotees to follow the ritualistic clockwise
circumambulation before entering the temple hall.
All the three shrines have a 16 pointed stellate (star-shaped) design
and their towers follow the same pattern. Hence the whole
structure looks like a rhythmic progression of well decorated
projections and recesses. The number of points make the towers
The upper eaves is where the tower meets the wall of the shrine.
The lower eaves is about a metre below the upper eaves.
Between the two eaves are decorative miniature towers
(aedicule/small shrine). Below the lower eaves are a panel of
Hindu deities and their attendants. There are nearly 200 such
The upper section has depictions from the Hindu epics and
puranic scenes executed with detail, yalis (or makara, an imaginary
beast) and hamsas (swans). The Ramayana is depicted on the friezes
on the south side wall, stories of Hindu God Krishna on the rear
and the Mahabharata on the north side. The overall effect of the
decorated towers, wall images, friezes is well balanced.
Of the three shrines, one is of Keshava, but the image is missing
from the sanctum.
The other two shrines house images of Janardhana and
Venugopala (the three images are forms of Vishnu)
This is strictly a Vaishnava temple and there is no depiction of any
forms of Hindu God Shiva.