Pattadakal – Heritage Destinations in Karnataka
Ah, we are speaking of one of the most famous heritage centers of the world and that is Pattadakal. It is about a distance of 500 kilometers from Bangalore and about 22 kilometers from Badami. What do you find in Pattadakal? What makes Pattadakal so special? It is its architectural excellence! It is the paradise for any art historian. With lots of varied styles, this place looks as if it has been carved by God’s own hands. And how come this small relatively unknown place is so beautifully decorated with some of the most wonderful temples out there? Who chose this place? It is what the rulers of the Chalukyan dynasty decided to do, of course, when she shifted their capital to Pattadakal.
Located in the Bagalkot district of northern Karnataka, just near the banks of the Malaprabha River, this place is a living attestation of the Chalukyan architectural brilliance and value. During the 7-8th century, they built around 10 breathtaking examples of temples all around the place as if they were trying to experiment and each of their experiments turned out to be exemplars for the future generation, some form of legacy they set and a new standard they reached.
Four of the main temples are built on the Dravidian (south Indian) style of architecture and four shows a Nagara (north Indian) style of architecture. The Papanatha temple shows a hybrid sort of style. One important characteristic of this place is the sand, which is red in color. And this is why Pattadakal has been named as Kisuvolal, which means red stone.
The main tourist attraction of the place is the Virupaksha temple. Built on a Dravidian style of architecture, it marks the glory of victory of Vikramaditya’s II over the Pallava dynasty in 735 CE. It is extremely beautiful and more beautiful than the others are. The temples were named as Lokeshwara (after Lokadevi) and Trilokeshwara (after Trilokadevi). Later on, they were renamed as Virupaksha and Mallikarjuna respectively. It has nicely carved images and figurines of Ugra Narasimha, Nataraj, Gajendramoksham, Ravananugrahamurthy and Shiva. It is considered to be a replica of the Kailashanatha temple (Kanchi). In fact, this is the largest temple inside the complex.
But then there are precious others such as Sangameshwara temple. The oldest of all, Sangameshwara temple was built by the King Vijayaditya. It is a similar structure as the Virupaksha temple with a inner sanctum, passage and hall. You will find some nice Narasimha and Nataraj figurines carved around on the walls.
If you loved the Virupaksha temple, I bet you will love the Mallikarjuna temple, a smaller version of the former. Trilokadevi built it in the year 745 CE and gave it an excellence artistic historical touch with the ceilings of Nataraj, Parvati and Gajalakshmi, pillars carved of the scenes depicting life of Lord Krishna, and several sculptures of Ugra Narasimha and Mahishasuramardhini.
You will also find the north Indian styled Kasivisveshwara temple to be an appeal to the eye. This was the last early Chalukyan art for that matter. Well, this was built by the Rashtrakuta dynasty. Another one built by the Rashtrakuta dynasty is the Jain temple, in the 9th century. With some excellent sculptures and carvings, this is a beauty to look at.
One of the most beautiful of all is the Papanatha temple. It was started in the north Indian Nagara style but was later shifted to the south Indian Dravidian style. Have you seen the Navabrahma temples (Alampur) built by the Chalukyas (Badami)? It bears a strong resemblance with that. It also has sculptures of the scenes of Mahabharata and Ramayana. You will also love the Jain basadis and the Galaganatha temple, which has a special curvilinear shikhara.
And when you have visited Pattadakal, how can you miss the popular dance festival? Then you have the Virupaksha temple car festival held around March. You will get a feel of the south Indian flavor.