Saturday, April 2, 2011

Badami - Aihole - Pattadakal explored! Part I

Badami-Aihole-Pattadakal circuit was on my wish list for quiet some time. Having covered Belur/Halebidu and Hampi last year, Badami circuit of the Chalukya's dating to the 5th to 8th century AD was the natural choice to complete the Karnataka historical circuit in style. Quick check for the interested lot lead to a good 8 people. Warnings were issued on the two H’s that they need to bear the two days. History and the Heat of North Karnataka. All set we started off from Bangalore(Yeswantpur, to be precise) on Friday night by the Bijapur express which takes a good 12 hours to reach Badami. Hotel bookings were done in advance to avoid any last minute hassle due the Kannada Utsava that was being held that weekend in Badami. Once we landed in Badami, we made a quick dash to the hotel to got ourselves freshened up. All set we stepped out of the hotel to be greeted by the pageantry of Kannada utsava participants in a procession displaying their rich tradition in a republic day parade style. What a start to the day any one could have wished for ! Our cameras woke up and got in action capturing the colorful scenes on frames.

Procession part of the Kannada Utsava at Badami.

Few enquiries with locals helped us tweak our plan for the two days, now it was Aihole-Pattadakal on day1 and Badami and others on day2. Our tour vahana for the day was the Ape auto and we started our tryst with rural style travelling to explore the Chalukyan marvels.

Few words about the Badami Chalukya’s

The Chalukyas of Badami ruled over Dakshinapath (the territories between Mt. Vindhya and the river Krishna which included Maharastra in the West and the territories of Telugu speaking people in the East) from the middle of the eighth century. The Badami Chalukya architecture evolved in the time period of 5th to 8th century AD in the Malaprabha river basin of the present Bagalkot district. Chalukya’s were often at war with the Pallava’s and influence of Pallava architecture can be seen in monuments of Badami region.


First stop was Aihole, Aihole is about 33kms from Badami and a not so good narrow road leads you to this monument. Aihole was the early capital of Chalukya’s set along the river Malaprabha dating to the 6th century AD. It has a group 125 monuments spread across the place and served as the training ground for the student of architecture who experimented with different styles. The influence of these temples can bee see in the present day marvels of Belur-Halebidu, Hampi and even Khajuraho temples.

Durga Temple (actually Durg temple)

Harihara (left half is Shiva and right half is Vishnu)



Slope roofed temple complex, the inside of the temple was similar to Hoysala architecture

Hoysala architects drew their inspiration from these pillars

Lad Khan Temple

Temple bearing the influence of Pallava style architecture

The Lad Khan temple was built in late 7th or early 8th century is located south of the Durga Temple. It consists of a shrine with two mantapas in front of it. The God here is Lord Shiva and the structure is built in a Panchayat style, indicating a very early experiment in temple construction. Temple complex in those days served more purpose than just relegious centers, activities like panchayat meetings, court proceedings used to happen and they were ideal media for educating people on aspects of life.

Emblem of Chalukyan empire

Outer periphery of Durg temple


Next we proceeded to Pattadakal. Pattadakal is 13kms from Aihole and lies on the road from Badami to Aihole. Set aside the Malaprabha river which flows from south to north (uttarabhimukhi)at this location just like Ganges at Varanasi. This made the Chalukya's to choose this location for their coronation ceremonies. Built in the 8th century, this complex consists of group of 10 temples which was declared as a world heirtage site in 1987.

Four temples were built in Dravidian style, four in Nagara style of Northern India and the Papanatha temple in mixed style. The kings were often at war with the Pallava's and the south Dravidian architecture temples seem to have a drawn their influence from the Pallava temples at Kanchipuram. These temples were built at a stage in history when proper vaastu was started to be adopted for building of the temple as well as performing of prathishta to the deity. The temple constuction was carried out with stone interlocking technique and iron rods used to lock together two stones are still seen in between the stones in the temple stucture.

Dravidian style temples:

Sangameswara Temple
Sangameshwara Temple (was called Vijayewara) is oldest temple in Pattadakal, built by Chalukya King Vijayaditya Satyashraya ( 696-733 AD).

Sangameswara Temple

Virupaksha Temple
This is working temple and is known as ‘Shri Lokeswara-Maha-Sila-prasada’ from the epigraphs. It was built by Lokamahadevi, the Queen of Vikaramaditya II (A.D.733-745) in about A.D.740 to commemorate her husband’s victory over the Pallavas of Kanchipuram. It closely resembles the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram on plan and elevation and represents a fully developed and perfected stage of the Dravidian architecture. The whole of the interior of this temple is embellished with elegant carvings and aesthetically modeled sculptures. Episodes from the Ramayana (e.g. abduction of Sita) Mahabharata (e.g. Bhishma lying in a bed of arrows), Bhagavata (e.g. Krishna lifting the Govardhan mountain) and Kiratarjuniya (e.g. Arjuna receiving the Pasupatastra from Siva) are depicted on the pillars.

Virupaksha Temple

Vimana of Virupaksha Temple, note the Pallava type architecture

Ramayana - Abduction of Sita by Ravanan

Ramayana - Hanuman goes to lanka to spot Sita

Mahabharata - Bhisma on the bed of Arrows

Kailasha Parvata scene

The Nandi-mandapa situated to the east of the temple, is a square pavilion open on all the four sides. It houses a large image of Nandi on a raised floor.

Nandi Mandapa

Beautiful Nandi

Mallikarjuna Temple

This temple, called Sri Trailokeswara Maha Saila Prasada built around 740 A.D. by one of the Queens, Trailokyamahadevi of Vikramaditya II (733-45 A.D.) to commemorate her husband’s victory over the Pallavas of Kanchipuram.

Mallikarjuna Temple

Rekha Nagara Model Temples

The Rekha Nagara temples have the shikara resembling the temples in Orissa and Northern India. The have a square base which progressively decreases as it goes up.

Jambulinga Temple

Kadisideshwara Temple

Galaganatha Temple

KasiVisveswara Temple

It was alomost late afternoon by the time we completed the entire complex, capturing the monuments in our shutter boxes we decided to fuel our tired bodies. We decided to try out the Jovar roties in the small eatery in Pattadkal. Finishing the typical N'Karnataka meal brought to close day1 of sojourn.

I have covered Badami in Part II of this blog ....stay tuned!

To peek into the entire set of trip photographs, Picasa album - Badami, Aihole an Pattadakal

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