Mysore:  Mysore - City of Palaces and Oriental splendor. It is the principal residence of the royal family. Visit the Maharajah’s Palace - a synthesis of Hindu and Muslim styles. Gateways, domes, arches, turrets, colonnades, sculpture - all are here in magnificent profusion. Chamundi Hill named after the Royal Family’s patron goddess and the site of summer palaces, an ancient temple and the 16-foot Nandi (Shiva’s bull) carved out of a single huge boulder.

 

Somnathpur.  25 miles east of Mysore lies the village of Somnathpur with its exquisite Hoysala Temple built in the second half of the 13th century at the confluence of the rivers Kaveri and Kabini. It is triple-shrined, with an enclosed courtyard and is flat-roofed but with the suggestion of a spire, well carved and sculpted with rows of friezes going right round the walls. The figures carved are beautifully detailed and intricately placed within the friezes. Scenes from the epics, dancers, musicians, warriors, nature, all are represented here with great artistry.

 

Belur and Halebid Temples.  Belur flourished under the Hoysala Kings 800 years ago and the sole reminder of this grandeur is the Chennakesava Temple. It stands in a perfect state of preservation and is an outstanding testament to the skill of Hoysala craftsmen. Its polished black stone exterior is profusely carved with scenes from the epics, each figure sculpted with fine detail. A short distance away at Halebid is a sister temple, the Hoysalesvara, dedicated to Shiva. Here too, the sculptor’s art is remarkable with details endless and exquisite: frieze upon frieze of gods, goddesses, animals and humans. This temple is the best in medieval Indian sculpture. It was constructed a decade after the Belur Temple by the same king but left uncompleted after 80 years of labor.