Pattadakal Unesco World Heritage

Pattadakal in Bijapur in north Karnataka was a prominent capital of the Chalukya dynasty, in the seventh and eighth centuries. They were famous temple builders. Pattadakal was also a place for royal coronation – Pattadakisuvolal. Chalukyan rulers were art patrons in whose time different architectural styles were developed. For example, in their period the shift from rock-cut medium to structural temples were noted.


Temples have blended the Rekha, Nagara, Prasada and the Dravida Vimana styles of temple building. At this UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are 10 temples, including a Jain complex with numerous small shrines and plinths. Four temples were constructed in Dravidian style, four in Nagara style of Northern India and the Papanatha temple in mixed style. It started out in nagara style and later moved on to Dravidian style. The temple has sculptures from Mahabharatha and Ramayana. It is said that this temple is similar to the Navabhrama temples built by the Badami Chalukyas in Alampur in Andhra Pradesh.

The Jain Temple on the Pattadakal-Badami Road was built in the Dravidian style by the Rashtrakutas. It was built by either King Amoghavarsha I or his son Krishna II.


Pattadakal’s oldest temple is at Sangamesvara. It was built by Chalukya Vijayaditya Satyasraya (A.D. 697-733). The Sangamesvara is nearer to the Pallava style as it has no sukanasika. Both the Sangamesvara and the larger Virupaksha Temple are similar in being square on plan from the base to sikhara.

Other temples here are the Kadasiddhesvara and Jambulingeswara Temples, built in Nagara style in the 7th century A.D. the Kadasiddhesvara temple has the idol of Lord Siva holding a trident. The Galaganatha temple was built in the 8th century. It was built in the Rekha Nagara Prasada style, and has a sculpture of Lord Siva slaying the Andhakasura demon.


The Kasivisvesvara temple, the last to be built, stands in early Chalukyan style. The Mallikarjuna temple was constructed by Queen Trilokyamahadevi to celebrate the victory of her husband and king Vikramaditya II over the Pallavas.


This queen was instrumental in the construction of the Virupaksha temple having been influenced by the architecture of the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchi. The Virupaksha temple stands in a large complex comprising a tall vimana with axial mandapas and peripheral sub-shrines around the court, enclosed by a wall with gopura (entrances) in front and behind. The compound wall of the complex has on its coping kuta and said-heads a derivative of the Shore temples at Mahabalipuram. It gives you the feeling of a lower storey when viewed from a distance. On the victory pillar at Virupaksha Temple there is an 8th century Old Kannada inscription. And the Virupaksha temple in turn influenced Rashtrakuta ruler Krishna I (A.D. 757 -783) to carve the Kailasanath Temple at Ellora.

In the reign of the Rashtrakuta king Krishna II of 9th century A.D. a Jain temple was built. It is also known as Jaina Narayana. Two of its lower storeys are functional.


The early Chalukyas’s architectural style can be noted in the ceiling panels of the navagrahas, dikpalas, the dancing Nataraja and the wall niches that have Lingodbhava, Ardhanarisvara, Tripurari, Varahavishnu, Trivikrama tell us about the skill of the sculptor. Sometimes, there are sculptures that illustrate some episodes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata and the Panchatantra.


The Sangamesvara, Virupaksha and Mallikarjuna temples at Pattadakkal exhibit to a large degree the southerly elements in their vimanas, as crystallized in the contemporary Pallava temples.The Archeological Survey of India preserves the Museum of the Plains and the Sculpture gallery. Some other important monuments here are the inscription-laid monolithic stone pillar, Naganatha temple, Chandrashekara temple and the Mahakuteshwara temple.


The best time to visit is between October and February. The sites are open from sunrise to sunset. There is a stipulated entrance fee, different for Indians and tourists of SAARC, and foreign nationals.The nearest airport to Pattadakal is Bangalore, about 500km away. The nearest railway station is Badami, 22km away. The State Highway 14 links Pattadakal with Badami. Aihole is round 45km from Pattadakal. Bijapur is 134km away.


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