Temple architecture

UNESCO World Heritage Site Status: Team Completes State Visit to Somnathpur Temple

The UNESCO team also visits Belur, Halebid; Mysuru DC translate local views in Kannada to English

T. Narasipur: A team from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) visited the 13th century Chennakeshava Temple at Somnathpur in Mysuru yesterday before concluding his tour of Hoysala Monuments in Karnataka.

The team, led by Tiang Kian Boon, an expert from the International Commission on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), also visited the other Hoysala temples in Belur and Halebid before coming to Somnathpur.

Tiang Kian Boon is expected to submit a report to UNESCO which will decide whether the monuments could be granted the World Heritage Site label.

The label of World Heritage Site will be declared in 2023. Somnathpur Temple is located at a distance of 35 kilometers from Mysuru and the structure is an art connoisseur’s paradise.

Officially, the Hoysala temples of Belur, Halebid and Somnathpur have been finalized as India’s application to be considered World Heritage for the year 2022-2023. The effort has been ongoing since 1992. In Karnataka, only Hampi and Pattadakal are considered UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

There has been a demand to promote more places on the list as it actively promotes conservation efforts and officials have been working since the 1990s to lobby for Hoysala temples to be on the list.

On the tentative list since 2014

The ‘Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas’ have been on UNESCO’s Tentative List since April 15, 2014 and represent one of the peaks of human creative genius and testify to the rich historical and cultural heritage of our country.

At Somnathpur, Tiang Kian Boon was told about the temple architecture and carvings. It was informed of its main features by the former president of Infosys Foundation, Sudha Murty, who was actively involved in heritage conservation efforts of temples and Kalyanis in Karnataka. She also leads the State Tourism Vision Group.

Other team members were Jahnwij Sharma, Additional Director General (Conservation and Scientific Preservation), Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Pankaj Modi, Meera Iyer and Aravind Chandramohan from Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH)- Bengaluru.

The Deputy Commissioner of Mysuru, Dr. Bagadi Gautham, and the Commissioner of the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, A. Devaraju, were also present during the team’s visit.

File at UNESCO

In fact, INTACH-Bengaluru had prepared the dossier for submission to UNESCO. After submission of the dossier, a technical examination was carried out. The team is now conducting a site assessment. The file will be taken into consideration in July or August 2023.

According to epigraphic records available from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Soma, Commander-in-Chief of King Hoysala Narasimha III (1254-1291 AD) built the shrine in 1268 AD. Constructed of soft stone (greenish schist stone), every square inch of the Temple is adorned with various carvings, and the entire sanctuary is raised on a molded star-shaped platform.

Interaction with villagers

After the site visit, Tiang Kian Boon met with Somnathpur villagers and local businessmen, especially those who do business within a short distance from the temple, and got their perspective on granting the status. from World Heritage site to site.

Mysuru DC translated the views of the local Kannada community into English for Tiang Kian Boon to understand. The villagers told the ICOMOS official that from now on, the Temple with superior and marvelous architecture is only known in local areas and some of the tourists who come from Mysuru. If the Temple gets the distinction of being a World Heritage Site, it will be known to the world and it will also be a matter of pride for the village.

Condition for preservation: Center

A note from the Press Information Bureau (PIB) said that the state government will ensure the conservation of the state-protected monuments that are around these three monuments as this would add to the visual integrity of the place. .

The District Master Plan will also incorporate buffers for all monuments and establish an integrated management plan and the State will also consider traffic management issues to be considered, particularly around the designated property.

“These temples bear witness to the creativity and skill of the artists and architects of Hoysala who constructed these masterpieces of a kind never seen before or since. The architects of Hoysala used their extensive knowledge of architecture of temples in different parts of India,” GDP said.

The architects of Hoysala made thoughtful and informed eclectic selections of features from other temple typologies which they then modified and then complemented with their particular innovations. The result was the birth of a completely new form of “Hoysala Temple”, the GDP statement added.