Pattadakal – More Detail
As one goes through the folds of the hills and valleys beyond the Malaprabha river and turns on the arc of uprises, which reveal the ochre-colored shrines of Pattadakal, one is lifted from the ordinary self to the euphoria of happiness and one exclaims: What beauties! What splendors! What marvels!
The Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (15° 56¢ 54² N – 75°49¢ 06² E) is situated 22 km from Badami, district Bagalkot. It lies on the left bank of river Malaprabha overlooking it, amidst a rugged yet picturesque landscape.
It is situated 22 km from Badami, a taluk headquarters of the same name, district Bagalkot. Badami is the nearest railway station on Hubli-Sholapur meter-guage line. Goa is the nearest airport and Hubli located about 125 km, has domestic air travel facilities. Due to non-availability of halting facilities at Pattadakal, Badami is the convenient place for tourist accommodation.
The historicity of Pattadakal goes back even earlier to the Pre-Chalukyan period. The place has cultural vestiges ranging in date from the pre-historic times. In ancient times, this place was known as Kisuvolal (valley of red soil) or Pattada-Kisuvolal or Raktapura. In the literary works it was better known as ‘Petirgal’ by Ptolemy in his ‘Geography’ (2nd Century A.D.), Kisuvolal (Kavirajamarga of Srivijaya c. A.D. 840) and Pattasilapura or Hammirapura (Hammirakavya by Singiraja c. A.D. 1500.
The early Chalukyan reign reached its zenith here during Vinayaditya’s period (c. A.D. 681-96). The Chalukyan monarchs were being crowned in this place as mentioned in the epigraphs and literature of early medieval period and hence the place name Pattadakal – the place of coronation. The group of temples built during the period of Chalukyas of Badami (7th-8th Centuries A.D.), is the landmark of this place. It was a great center of Chalukyan Art, Architecture, and Sculpture as gleaned by inscriptions. It was a place of political, historical, religious and cultural activities. Pattadakal flourished as a cultural capital mainly due to its strategic and auspicious location, where the river Malaprahari takes a northerly turn (uttaravahini). Subsequently it became a political, historical and religious centre.
The political stability, abundant material prosperity combined with peaceful atmosphere, and a high level of religious tolerance in the Chalukyan dominion fostered all round cultural development. This is especially reflected in the fields of art, architecture, literature, administration and other such arenas. For the first time in South Indian context, there was a spurt in the religious architecture, both in the rock-cut and structural media. Experimentation in arriving at functionally viable and aesthetically appealing temple models was carried out in the three main centers of architecture viz., Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal.
A number of indigenous elements were harmoniously blended with the architectural and sculptural traits of the northern and southern styles, then in vogue. The greatest contribution of the Chalukyas of Badami thus, is the evolving of the two main temple styles – the southern dravida-vimana and the northern rekha nagara prasada types through a series of experimentations that commenced at Aihole, continued at Badami and culminated at Pattadakal. The political conflicts with the Pallavas of Kanchipuram had a positive effect in so far as the efflorescence and diffusion of architectural and sculptural styles, proving beneficial to both.
The group of temples at Pattadakal comprises 10 temples, 8 in one cluster, one about half a km north of the main cluster and another located about 1.5 km northwest of the main group. These temples stylistically resolve into two distinct categories. The dravida vimana type represented by the Virupaksha, Mallikarjuna and Sangameswara temples and the rekhanagara prasada type represented by the Kadasiddeswara, Jambulinga, Galaganatha, Kasivisweswara and Papanatha temples. The Sangameswara temple, earliest dateable structure in the group is a perfect example of dravida vimana type. The Virupaksha temple is built by Lokamahadevi, the chief queen of King Vikramaditya II (A.D.733-745). This is an example in which all the canonical elements pertaining to the plan, elevation and the style are crystalised. The exterior wall surface of the temple is symmetrically relieved with sculptures of gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon exhibiting vitality and graceful anatomy. The pillars in the interior are similarly embellished with narrative panels depicting selected epic episodes. The adjoining Mallikarjuna temple is another exemplary edifice. The Galaganatha temple in the complex illustrates the fully developed rekha nagara prasada form and shares many features of the then contemporary temples of Alampur in adjacent Andhra Pradesh.
The epigraphs record the date and persons responsible for the temple construction besides containing information on the architects and artists of the period, enhancing the significance of these structures. In a nutshell, the temples of Pattadakal “provide a striking illustration of the co-existence of different building styles and artistic traditions”.
The sculptures are characterised by grace, rich imagination and delicate anatomical and ornamental details. The beautifully proportioned sculptures of Mithuna, Dikpalas and Surya in the ceilings, gracefully carved Durga, Nataraja, Lingodhbhava, Ardhanarishvara, Gajasuramardana, Andakasuramardana and other Saiva sculptures. Vishnu as Varaha in a variety of moods, vibrant Trivikrama, Vishnu seated on Garuda and other forms are carved on the walls. These bear ample testimony to the mastery of the Chalukyan sculptors in depicting rhythm, beauty, vigor, romance and other various moods in stone. In these temples, we see the narrative panels illustrating various episodes from the epics – Ramayana, Mahabharatha and also from Bhagavata, Kiratarjuneeya and Panchatantra being introduced for the first time.
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