Monuments at Pattadakal (1987), Karnataka
Chalukyan rulers were not only empire builders, but great patrons
of art whose encouragement prompted the artists and craftsmen to
experiment and innovate in different architectural styles and giving
it a new dimension. It is in their period that transition from
rock-cut medium to structural temples took place.
Pattadakal located in Bijapur district of Karnataka was not only
popular for Chalukyan architectural activities but also a holy place
for royal coronation, 'Pattadakisuvolal'. Temples constructed here
mark the blending of the Rekha, Nagara, Prasada and the Dravida Vimana
styles of temple building.
The oldest temple at Pattadakal is Sangamesvara built by
Vijayaditya Satyasraya (AD 697-733). The other notable temples at
Pattadakal are the Kadasiddhesvara, Jambulingeswara both attributed to
7th century A.D. while Galaganatha temple was built a century later in
the style of rekha nagara prasada. The Kasivisvesvara temple was the
last to be built in early Chalukyan style. The Mallikarjuna temple was
constructed by Rani Trilokyamahadevi to celebrate the victory over the
Pallavas by Vikramaditya II. She is also credited to have built the
Virupaksha temple influenced by the architecture of the Kailasanatha
temple at Kanchipuram. The Virupaksha temple later served as a model
for the Rashtrakuta ruler Krishna I (757 -783 A.D.) to carve out the
great Kailasa at Ellora.
However, the last addition at Pattadakal was made during the reign
of Rashtrakuta ruler Krishna II of the 9th century A.D. in form of a
Jaina temple, locally famous as Jaina Narayana, with its two lower
The sculptural art of the early Chalukyas is characterised by grace
and delicate details. The ceiling panels of the navagrahas, dikpalas,
the dancing Nataraja, the wall niches containing Lingodbhava,
Ardhanarisvara, Tripurari, Varahavishnu, Trivikrama bear ample
testimony to the sculptor's skill as well as the cult worship in
vogue. The narrative relief illustrating certain episodes from the
Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata and Panchatantra fitted well with
these grand religious edifices.
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 Sangamesvara, the earliest of the three, built by Chalukya
Vijayaditya (697-733), is nearer the Pallava form in that it has no
sukanasika, while the other two, which possess this, are the earliest
of the Chalukyan type and its derivatives possessing this
architectural member, as also does the Kailasa at Ellora. Both the
Sangamesvara and the larger Virupaksha are similar to each other in
being square on plan from the base to sikhara. The Virupaksha, built
by the queen of Vikramaditya II (733-46), is the earliest dated temple
with the sukanasika, being closely followed by the Mallikarjuna, built
by another queen of the same king.
The main vimana of the Sangamesvara is of three storeys. The
lowermost storey is surrounded by two walls, the inner and outer, the
second storey being an upward projection of the inner wall, while the
outer wall encloses the covered circumambulatory round the sanctum.
The Virupaksha is a large complex consisting of a tall vimana with
axial mandapas and peripheral sub-shrines round the court, enclosed by
a wall with gopura-entrances in front and behind, all designed and
completed at one time. As such, this is the earliest extant
temple-complex in the Chalukyan series. The massive gopuras are also
the earliest. The compound-wall of the complex, following the plan of
the group itself, has on its coping kuta and said-heads, suggestive of
a derivation from the Shore-temple at Mahabalipuram-a device which
gives the impression of a lower storey when viewed from a distance.
The Mallikarjuna, built immediately after and close to the
Virupaksha, is a smaller temple with a four-storeyed vimana with a
circular griva and sikhara. It has more or less a similar plan.
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