World Heritage Sites – Pattadakal – Monuments Papanatha Temple
Dedicated to Mukteswara according to inscriptions, this modest temple seems to have been completed around 740 A.D. There seems to have been a change of intention during the course of construction of this temple as can be known from its too narrow circumambulatory path whose floor slabs conceal the external moulding of the garbhagriha walls and the buttress like projections of the north and south garbhagriha-walls into the ardha-mandapa, both of which are unusual features.
Facing the east, this temple has on plan a sanctum (garbhagriha ) surrounded by a circumambulatory path (pradakshinapatha) with devakoshtha pavilions in its three walls, an ardha-mandpa, a sabha-mandapa and an entrance porch (mukhamandapa) provided with kakshasana. Curiously, there is no Nandi-mandapa but an ornate image of Nandi is housed in the eastern half of the sabha-mandapa.
The temple is built on a plinth of five mouldings, embellished with animal motifs, floral designs and kudus. The wall surfaces are relieved with niches (devakoshthas) housing Saiva and Vaishnava deities and depicting episodes from the Ramayana. These niches are topped by various designs of chaitya-arch motifs and interspersed with perforated windows. The three devakoshtha pavilions house images of Siva in different forms. A characteristic feature of the temple is its well-developed rekha-nagara (northern) sikhara with an elaborately carved Chaitya-arch enshrining Nataraja on the frontage of the sukanasa. The amalaka and kalasa are, however, missing.
Introduction of narrative panels depicting the episodes from the Kiratarjuniya and the Ramayana on the outer wall surfaces isanother noteworthy feature of the temple. Significantly, names of the main characters of the episodes as also those of the sculptures like Baladeva, Devaraya, Changama, Revadi, Ovajja, etc., are found engraved in right places.
Pillars of the entrance porch bear Kinnara couples and engaged columns have the figures of Dvarapalas. Lions and sardulas are carved at the corners above the entablature and the ceiling panel depicts dancing Siva with Parvati and musicians and flying figures. Pillars and pilasters of the other mandapas are relieved with medium-sized graceful sculptures of damsels and couples (mithunas) in playful moods. The central bay ceiling of the sabha-mandapa is adorned with panels depicting Anantasayana surrounded by the Dikpalas, nagaraja and Gajalakshmi from east to west. Here figures of rearing lions are cared projecting from above the entablature. Central ceiling of the ardha-mandapa has relief sculpture of dancing Siva in the company of Parvati and musicians. The western ceiling here has figure of Nagaraja. Both the mandapas and the sanctum have ornate doorframes.