Pattadakal, the place of coronation, is a magnificent temple complex founded by the Chalukya Dynasty. As the name implies, the site served as the coronation ceremony of the Chalukya Kings. The temples of the complex are not only a greatest achievement of the architects, they indicate a climatic moment in the Deccan Architecture. UNESCO has described Pattadakal as “a harmonious blend of architectural forms from northern and southern India” and an illustration of “eclectic art” at its height.
With my friend Amitabha, I visited Pattadakal in October, 2019. It was the last day of the trip. Earlier we visited Hampi, Lakkundi, Banasankari and Badami. We started quite earlier from KSTDC Maurya, Badami and reached Pattadakal at 9 AM. Having breakfast with Idli and Sambar Vara at a roadside food joint we purchased the ticket and checked into the great Temple Complex of Pattadakal.
Eight temples were founded inside the temple complex. Starting from the north, they are Kadasiddheshvara Temple, Jambulinga Temple, Galaganatha Temple, Chandrasekhara Temple, Sangameshvara Temple, Kashivishvanatha Temple, Mallikarjuna Temple and Virupaksha Temple. All of them are east facing and dedicated to lord Shiva. They were built of red sandstone. Pattadakal was also known as Kisuvolal (Valley of red soil), Raktapura (City of red), and Pattada-Kisuvolal (Red soil valley for coronation).
Since there was a crowd in the southern part of the complex we started from the northern part of the complex.
Kadasiddhesvara Temple was founded in the earlier decade of 8th century. The doorway on the east consists of guardian figures. The idols of Lakulisha, Harihara, Nandi and Harihara are depicted on the sanctuary walls.
Located southern to Kadasiddheshvara Temple, Jambulinga Temple follow the same structural pattern, size with the northern one. Structures depicted on the sanctuary walls are Lakulisha, Surya and Vishnu.
Standing on the east of Jambulinga Temple, Galaganatha Temple is probably an unfinished structure. The temple was founded in the last decade of the 7th century. Raised on a broad platform, this temple is surrounded by passageways on its three sides with projecting porches on three sides.
I liked an interesting feature on the southern wall of the temple. An idol of shiva, wearing a garland of skulls, is energetically spearing the demon Andhaka. The idol was set between a perforated window.
Chandrasekhara Temple is the only temple that was founded later in the later part of 9th Century by Rashtrakuta Era. The small temple does not contain any idol except a pair of Makara.
Walking a few metres towards the south, Sangameshvara Temple is placed next to a pillar. According to the inscription of the broken octagonal pillar, Sangameshvara Temple was erected by the Chalukya King Vijayaditya. But the temple was not completed. Later in the Rashtrakuta Era, there was an attempt to work on the temple. But the temple remains unfinished.
The temple has a linga sanctuary. Eastern side of the temple is adjoined to a mandapa containing 16 pillars. Three other walls of the sanctuary consist of perforated windows and four projections. Figural panels are depicted on the projections. On the projections of the southern wall, the idols are Shiva spearing Andhaka, dancing Shiva and Shiva with raised hands. Western projection consists of Lakulisha, Ardhanarishvara and Shiva with Bhringi. In the north, Vishnu and Varaha are depicted. The perforated windows consist of bold geometric designs.
Though unfinished, Sangamehvara Temple is noteworthy for its imposing proportion and richness of design.
Kash Vishvanatha Temple:
Dating from the first decade of 8th Century, Kashi Vishvanatha Temple consists of a sanctuary and a small rectangular mandapa. The Nagara style architecture is a symbol of architectural relics of Chalukya Architecture.
The outer walls of the temple have regularly spaced, shallow and niche projections topped with gavaksha style design. The niches are devoid of carvings with icons.
The mandapa has four columns full of designs. They are octagonal in shape with a cubical segment in the upper portion. Different panels are depicted on four sides in each of the cubes. The panels include the compositions of different shiva stories from the Purana. Curved idols of god and goddess are standing in each of the columns.
Virupaksha Temple is the centre attraction of the temple complex. The temple was built by Lokamahadevi. Virupaksha Temple shows the architectural excellence achieved by the architects in the era of Early Chalukya.
The temple stands on a paved compound and consists of an entrance gateway, Nandi pavilion, porch, mandapa, linga- sanctuary and an ante chamber. All of them are aligned on the east-west axis.
The outer walls of the antechamber, linga sanctuary are decorated with the panels of the Purana and the idols of the Hindu Gods like Ardhanarishvara, Shiva holding drum, Shiva spearing Ardhaka.
The interior of the Virupaksha Temple contains columns. The columns are topped with cubical blocks and the body of them are decorated with the stories from the Ramayana and The Mahabharata.
The Nandi pavilion contains a huge bull facing towards the east porch of the temple. The pavilion stands on a high pavement. The niche is decorated with attendant females, some in alluring postures, other maidens as well as amorous couples.
Nandi Pavilion separates the Mallikarjuna Temple from Virupaksha Temple. Next to the pavilion, there is the gateway to enter into this temple.
Erected by Trailokamahadevi, Mallikarjuna Temple is a piece of art. Connected to the Virupaksha Temple (built by Lokamahadevi, the sister of Trilokamahadevi) via Nandi Pavilion, Mallikarjuna Temple has lots of similarities with Virupaksha Temple.
Mallikarjuna Temple consists of highly decorated column walls and at the bottom of each of the columns along the passageway, various idols were sculpted.
Manda columns are covered with carvings, the walls are decorated with various narratives from Purana, including Krishna stepping on Kaliya in a lotus pond, Panchatantra stories, two pigeons holding a love letter to the queen from an admirer.
Other Temples of Pattadakala:
Mallikarjuna Temple was the last one we visited in the temple complex. Our next destination was to see the temples along the Malaprabha River. Though they are not included in UNESCO World Heritage, their architectural beauties are highly commendable.
First we visited the Papanatha Temple. Dating back to the very end of the Chalukya Era, this temple is located around 300 metres from the temple complex. Architecturally the temple is an extraordinary mix of Nagara and Dravidian style. Erected on a platform, the temple consists of a pair of mandapa. I had never seen this type of paired mandapa.In bothe the pairs, the outer wall is decorated by triangular gavaksha pediments. The porches of the three sides contain perforated windows. The stories of Ramayana are depicted on the panels.
Located in the vicinity of Pattadakal, Jain Temple is standing at a distance of few meters from the temple complex. This temple was probably built during the Rashtrakuta Era. The top of the main temple was curved.
It was almost 12.30 PM. We decided to drive towards Aihole.
- Badami Aihole Pattadakal by George Michell