We all know about the brilliance of Mughal architecture and the sheer genius seen in Hampi's structures, or the astounding Khajuraho temples built by the Chandelas. However, there are plenty of little-known gems of great masonry and artistry scattered all across India which will leave any history lover and architecture geek happy.
Chennakesava Temple, Somanathapura, Karnataka
One of the most iconic example is Hoysala Architecture, the Chennakesava Temple is located on the banks of the Kaveri river in Somanathapura, Karnataka. Constructed by Dandanayaka Somanatha under King Narasimha III in the 13th Century, the Trikuta (three-shrined structure) temple was constructed in a 16-point star shaped plan. Dedicated to three forms of Vishnu, the temple has innumerable intricately carved depictions of Hindu mythology, the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, various Hindu deities along with depictions from the life of Shri Krishna. The temple is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Hoysaleshwara Temple, Halebidu, Karnataka
Located in the former capital of the Hoysala Empire, The Hoysaleshwara temple of Halebidu Town in Hassan district of Karnataka, is dedicated to Shiva. Sometimes referred to as the Halebidu temple, it is the largest monument in Halebidu town. Constructed between 1121 CE and 1160 CE, the temple is made out of Soapstone by Ketamalla on the orders of King Vishnuvardhana. This Dvikuta Vimana (two-shrined and two super-structured) temple has numerous detailed and intricate carvings depicting scenes from Hindu legends and mythology including the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavata Purana.
Kedareshwara Temple, Halebidu, Karnataka
Constructed by the Hoysala King Veera Ballala II and his queen Ketaladevi, the Kedareshwara temple is another archaeological masterpiece in the town of Halebidu in Karnataka. Made out of Soapstone before 1219 AD, this Trikuta (three-shrined structure) temple is dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. It is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Sun Temple, Modhera, Gujarat
Though overshadowed by the more famous Sun temple of Konark, Orissa, the Sun temple of Modhera is a sight to behold. Located on the banks of the Pushpavati river in Modhera village in Mehsana district of Gujarat, it is needless to say that this temple is dedicated to the Hindu Deity Surya, the Sun God. Consisting of the Surya Kund (a deep stepped tank), the Sabha Mandap (assembly hall) and the Guda Mandap (sanctum sanctorum), the temple complex is a masonry masterpiece of the Solanki dynasty. Constructed under the aegis of King Bhimdev I around 1027 AD, the temple complex is echoed to perfection with patterns and engravings of Gods, Goddesses, daily life along with birds, beasts and flowers. Being a monument of national importance, it is protected by the Archeological Survey of India.
Shree Kopeshwar Temple, Khidrapur, Maharashtra
Though not as huge as the other temples on this list, the Shree Kopeshwar temple of Khidrapur is a gem in its own terms. Located on the banks of the river Krishna in Kolhapur district of Maharashtra, the 12th Century temple was constructed by Shilahara nd Yadava Kings. The unique temple is constructed in four parts and connected through vestibules while the Swarga Mandap (Heavenly Hall) is supported by 48 intricately carved pillars of different shapes supporting a ceiling open to the sky. The weight of the temple is supported by elephants carved at the base.
Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple, Tamil Nadu
Located on the banks of the Vegavathi river, the Kanchi Kailasanathar temple is the oldest structure in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu. Built around 700 CE by Pallava dynasty ruler Narasimhavarman II, the temple is almost completely carved out of sandstone. Consisting of numerous shrines, the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and is brimming with innumerable astounding sculptures pf various form of Lord Shiva, numerous depictions of Lord Shiva dancing along with some very magnificent lions.