Mysore to Somnathpur Temple

(Somnathpur Temple detail and overview shot. This temple is squat and ornate -- very different than the tall open spaces of European cathedrals of the same time period. What it lacks in height, it makes up for in detailed stone carving.)

(Me journaling and a lovely lady deity in one of the dark nooks in the interior of the temple.)

Calling the way to Somnathpur Temple “a road” would be flattery. After two hours of locating a Public bus, then getting on and catching a seat by the window (natural AC) to get us to this 13th century apex of Hoysala style architecture and carving, we arrive. We stumble out, hair disheveled (how did I wind up with pebbles in my ponytail?), wearing a tub of sunscreen and a liberal smattering of eau-de-mosquito repellent, desperate for a loo and a snack… this is public transportation and journeying to magnificence in India.
I am constantly reminded of the travel-aphorism – “the journey is the destination…” and remember to smile at myself, my travel partner and the countless tut tut guys, school children, and ladies in fruit stalls we ask questions of. Indian directions are abstract at best and we take about 4 to 5 similar responses to the same questions as a useful and truthful route. We zig zag all over town, sometimes passing landmarks a few times – “is it Ghandi square or is Ghandi Circle the one we need to get to?” There are many Golden Ghandis, often only 1-minute’s walk from each other.

After all the bus riding, stopping and negotiating an ambassador or auto ride for the final 7 km stretch, our jaws drop and our eyes won’t shut. The assault of the visual sense is heroic – stone carvings and cool, dark temples – we are in an Oasis, both of temperature and spirituality. At the base of the temple, the carvings depict earthly scenes of elephants, men on horses, complex sexual positions, and flowers – then our eyes move upwards into more celestial beings – various Goddesses dancing with tigers, snakes, griffin creatures with elephant trunks – and finally reaching a lotus flower for a roof. It’s hard to believe that the Somnathapur temple has almost 1,000 years of history in its midst. It is so beautiful, cool and quiet. It is removed and typical of the Indian landscape – where so much bustle, noise, haggeling, color, smells, honking, broken sidewalks, and “roads” can lead you the most beguiling complex beauty. Sorrounded by utter tranquility, harmonious design and contemplation – It is pure India.

If you go:

33 km bus from Mysore – ask around for the private bus stand
get off at Banur
take a tut tut or taxi for the 7 km rough stretch to Somananthapur
return the same way – don’t pay for someone to sit and wait, there will be other drivers whenever you’re done
don’t take the 800rs taxi from town – where’s the fun in that?


  1. Jack Douglas was a very funny author, He once wrote a chapter about being in a band with 12 guys named Jesus. This by way of commenting on Ghandi Circle and Ghandi Square. In Mexico City there are 6,000 street named Juarez. NO KIDDING. This is a fact. So they are defined by neighborhoods, unfortunately, there are many neighborhoods that are spelled exactly the same. So give it up unless you are a native! Happy Travels!

  2. wow, you weren't kidding when you said it was incredible! every day, not to mention every hour, is a new adventure! what an amazing way to stay present in your "journey" or process!