One day trip of Somnathpura and Triveni Sangama with Pavitra, in my first generation, three year old TVS Apache. Clocked 331 kilometres.
The plan was to leave on Saturday at 6:30 in the morning. Pavitra had damaged her legs due to her over zealous involvement in aerobics and she gave up saying she will not be able to walk. So we postponed it to Sunday. Sunday, I was a bit hesitant to go ahead keeping in mind Pavitra’s condition, so did not wake up when the alarm rang at 6:30 in the morning. At 11 while having breakfast (yeah on Sundays we have breakfast at 11), we suddenly decided to go ahead.
By 11:30 we left Indiranagar to take Bangalore Mysore state highway. Reached the outskirts of Bangalore an hour later, being stuck in traffic most of the time. What more can you expect if you start at 11:30 in the morning? Somnathpura does not seem to be as famous as Talkad, as a couple of people on the way we enquired gave us blank faces when we enquired the route to Somnathpura. By the time we reached Maddur we were apprehensive as Somnathpura was missing from the Karnataka tourism direction boards on the way. Suddenly it showed up in the direction board at the intersection of Bangalore Mysore state highway and the road to Malavalli. A tip for would be travellers to Somnathpura – Keep going on the highway, do not enter Maddur town, go past the road going into Maddur town, a few minutes later you will reach an intersection which has a huge Karnataka tourism direction board. Here, take a left which is the road that goes to Malavalli. Once you are on the Malavalli road, Somnathpura shows up on all tourism boards that you see en route.
From the intersection it is approximately 53 kilometres to Somnathpura. We passed Malavalli town and Somnathpura suddenly disappeared from the tourism direction boards. So, we asked the villagers regarding the route to Somnathpura, they informed us that we had to take a right at Malvalli, towards Bannur and from Bannur it is 10 kilometres. After cursing Karnataka tourism department for not putting the direction board at the most important place where it is required, we turned back towards Malavalli. The road till Bannur is manageable but once you cross Bannur, the road does a disappearing act. From Bannur till Somnathpura, the road is not tarred as it is under renovation. So for 10 kilometres we had a roller coaster ride which both of us thoroughly enjoyed but I pity the people who have to traverse on this road on a daily basis.
Entering Somnathpura temple premises was dejavu for us, as we had been to Belur Halebidu recently. The Keshava temple at Somnathpura was built in 13th century AD during the reign of Hoysala king Narasimha the third. A Hoysala tax collector by the name Somnatha sanctioned the building of the temple. The name Somnathpura owes it’s origin to this guy. As with most of the other historical temples in India, this one was also plundered by marauding barbaric Islamic invaders. As per Hindu traditions worship cannot take place in a temple that has been desecrated, so the deity here is not worshipped. 500 artists toiled for 58 years to build this wonder of the world. The main among them being Mallitamma, Masanatamma, Bamayya, Chamayya, Chowdaiah. Their signatures can be seen in various places in the temple premises.
There are 3 sanctums(garbhagudis) dedicated to Keshava, Janardhana and Venugopala. Due to this, this temple is also famous as trikutachala(3 sanctums) devalaya(temple). As with other Hoysala temples, this one is also built in the shape of a star. The main difference between this and the Belur, Halebidu temple is, this one has shikharas(towers) over the sanctums where as the Belur, Halebidu ones are flat roofed. The dance floor in front of the sanctums is square in shape and is not as big as the one in Belur, Halebidu as, here only Devadasis used to dance and offer their prayers to God, whereas in Belur, Halebidu the queen Shanthaladevi herself used to dance showing her devotion to God.
The same intricate details can be seen in the carvings as seen in Belur, Halebidu. The temple is built using soap stone(balapa kallu) and the stone was sourced from a place near Tumkur. Soap stone is supple when inside the ground but hardens up once exposed to atmosphere. All these facts were told to us by the guide whom we hired for 150 rupees. But actually, if you have been to Belur, Halebidu hiring a guide here is not needed as the sculptures bear a striking resemblance to the ones found in Belur, Halebidu.
After spending almost an hour examining the intricate carvings, we headed toward Triveni Sangama, the confluence point of Kaveri, Kapila and Gupthagamini Spatika sarovara, Gupthagamini Spatika sarovara being a river that flows under the ground. We went on a coracle ride in the river and the oarsman took us to the confluence point, which is marked by a pillar bearing a Nandi(bull) on top. This is the top of a submerged temple. Also he showed us a submerged place, where Agasthya the monk had carried out his penance.
The river is very broad but not deep at any point, the maximum being 6 feet. Also it is devoid of any whirlpools as the river base is not rocky. So, if you are heading there take your swimming gear with you, you can have a ball of a time. The river bed is an ideal place for a family picnic. The calm river water, the twilight and the peaceful atmosphere made the boat ride a very soothing experience. The oarsman had demanded 50 rupees per head, but Pavitra bargained with him and reduced it to 50 rupees for both of us. We handed him 10 rupees extra as he was a jovial and friendly person. We had a good chat with him about the area and the river during our ride. There are no sign board indicating this place, so keep asking for directions throughout the way, as it is easy to get lost. Triveni Sangama is at a distance of approximately 10 kilometres from Somnathpura and the road is extremely bad, but by this time you would have got used to bad roads ;).
On our way to Triveni Sangama we had seen orange flowers being grown amidst verdant paddy fields. The sight was heavenly and for sure we were not going to miss it. So we took a walk through the paddy fields till we reached the flowerbed. You can see the fields from the road on the way to Triveni Sangama. Park your vehicles and head to the field. This is something not to be missed. After this we headed back to Bangalore and reached home at 11 in the night with a pit stop in between as our numb asses begged for a break.