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World Heritage Sites – Pattadakal – Monuments Kasivisweswara Temple

Kasivisweswara Temple

Datable to the middle of the 8th century A.D. this temple was probably the last to be built in the Early Chalukyan style at Pattadakal. It contains on plan a garbhagriha housing a linga on a square pitha with pranala on north, an antarala and a mandapa. To the east of mandapa is a plinth of a small entrance porch (mukha-mandapa) and further east there is a moulded basement of a Nandi-mandapa retaining two square pillars and a couchant image of nandi in the centre. The two carved brackets projecting from the eastern wall of the mandapa on either side above the entrance doorways also indicate the once existence of an entrance porch.

The temple is built on a high plinth with the five usual mouldings decorated with the figures of horses, lions, elephants, peacocks, creeper designs and kudu motifs. A noteworthy feature of the temple is that its outer walls are symmetrically relieved in to five projections (pancha-ratha) and recesses carried to the superstructure. But for the eastern side, wall surfaces are relieved with pairs of pilasters supporting pediments of chaitya-arches. On the northern wall of the mandapa there are sculptures of Ardhanariswara and Kalabhirava housed in niches. On either side of the mandapa entrance the wall surface is relieved with miniature pavilions fashioned in the Dravida (Southern) style. The cornice (kapota) has chaitya-arches (kudus) for decorative motif and the upper portions of the walls are embellished with dwarfs (Ganas) carrying garlands, kirtimukhas and flying couples.

The superstructure displays the fully evolved rekha-nagara (Northern) Sikhara rising in five stages with its amalaka and kalasa missing. A mesh-like design covers its surface completely. The well-developed sukanasa projection has a fine sculpture of dancing Uma-Maheswara within the Chaitya-arch.

The mandapa has an ornate doorway of five sakhas with the river goddesses carved below. The lalatabimba on the lintel depicts the figure of Garuda holding tails of snakes. Naga in anjali-mudra (adorative pose) are seen near the rive goddesses. Carvings on the pillars and pilasters of the mandapa depict episodes from the Bhagavata and Siva-puranas. These sculptures including themes like Ravana lifting Kailasa, Kalyansundarmurti, exploits of Krishna etc., testify to the narrative skill of the Chalukyan artists. The elegantly carved central ceiling panel of the mandapa depicts Siva, Parvati holding Kartikeya and Nandi, surrounded by the ashta-dikpalas. Lions and vyalas carved on the beams appear to support the ceiling as it were. The antarala-doorway is similar to that of the mandapa and has Saiva Dwarapalas on either side.

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