The Malaprabha river flows across northern Karnataka, three hours from Hampi, amid sandstone cliffs and sunflower fields. Pattadakal, a cluster of ten temples by the riverbank erected in the seventh and eighth century with stones excavated from the surrounding terrain, is located along the route. Another megalithic temple, a few kilometres from the complex, has what appear to be Chalukyan family burials.
Pattadakal, along with Badami, Aihole, Mahakuta, and Pattadakal, is one of the four important Chalukyan sites in the Malaprabha valley. The temples, which were built near the end of the dynasty’s reign, are thought to be the dynasty’s grandest and most mature accomplishment. The superstructures’ status as superlatives of Indian temple architecture is confirmed by the coexistence of components of North Indian Nagara and South Indian Dravidian architectural styles. It’s no surprise that the site was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. However, that is only one of the reasons why you should go.
Significance of Pattadakal
The sculptures at Pattadakal, according to art historian Cathleen Cummings, are a significant historic example of religion, society, and culture in the Deccan region, particularly Hindu and Jain, and are an embodiment of Hindu kingship and religious worldview in 8th-century India. In Hindu theology, specifically Pashupata Shaivism, the artisans express the competing principles of Dharma (obligation, virtue, justice) and Moksha (freedom). She goes on to say that the value rests not only in the individual pictures, but also in their relative location and order, as well as how it reflects the traditional Hindu religious tradition’s tension between the dignified life of the householders and the life of the renouncer monk.
The manifestation of Dharma, notably raja-dharma (royal power and duty) as embodied by Rama, and Moksha can be found in all of Pattadakal’s temples. The former is portrayed by images of Lakulisha, Nataraja, Yoga, and countless ascetics, while the latter is expressed through images of Lakulisha, Nataraja, Yoga, and several ascetics. The relationship between Purusha and Prakriti, the soul and matter, the masculine and the feminine, is also prevalent at Pattadakal.The temples at Pattadakal represent the Chalukyas’ desire for integration and innovation, which resulted in a fusion of Northern and Southern Indian architectural traditions.
This is especially clear when comparing the architecture of Pattadakal, Aihole, and Badami. In the 5th century, Aihole served as a breeding ground for the ideas that would eventually lead to this blending of styles. During the 6th and 7th centuries in Badami, these ideas were elaborated further. “The zenith of a heterogeneous art which, in the 7th and 8th centuries, produced a coherent fusion of architectural forms from the north and south of India,” according to UNESCO.
The Pattadakal monuments are located in Karnataka, India, about 165 kilometres (103 miles) southeast of Belgaum, 265 kilometres (165 miles) northeast of Goa, 14 kilometres (23 kilometres) from Badami via Karnataka state highway SH14, and about 6 kilometres (9.7 kilometres) from Aihole, amidst sandstone mountains and the Malaprabha river valley.
At the Pattadakal-Badami-Aihole site, there are about 150 Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist structures and archaeological discoveries dating from the 4th to 10th centuries CE, in addition to prehistoric dolmens and cave paintings.Sambra Belgaum Airport (IATA Code: IXG), a three – hour drive west of Pattadakal, is the closest airport, with daily flights to Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chennai. An Indian Railways service stops at Badami on the Hubballi-Solapur line, providing access to the location via train.
Pattadakal was built during the Chalukyan dynasty’s heyday, although there are no palaces on its approximately 220-acre expanse. Only Hindu temples devoted to Lord Shiva and a Jain temple that is slightly separated from the rest exist. The location was once considered sacred. It was here that kings were crowned and queens commissioned temples in honour of their husbands’ triumphant return from battle. The site’s name means “coronation stone” in English. The Virupaksha temple, the most well-known temple in the area, is a majestic structure said to have been built by queen Loka Mahadevi.
The temple walls are adorned with friezes depicting Mahabharata and Ramayana narratives, and if you look closely enough, you may identify the names of the architects who sculpted them. The Mallikarjuna temple, also known as the Trailokeswara temple after queen Trailokya Mahadevi, is another remarkable monument. According to anecdotal evidence, she was the one who had the temple built to commemorate the Chalukyan triumph against the Pallavas.
The two temples have a square shaped garbha griha (shrine) linked to the mandapa by the antarala (foyer). The sukanasa on the Dravidian style shikharas at the front of the temples have been maintained to this day, and they symbolise the Chalukyans’ great architectural elegance. A sukanasa is an ornamental element that used to be placed on the face of shikhara temples before the main shrine entrance.
In every part of the complex, pillars and pavilions carved to perfection narrate traditions of Shiva’s fury. This was, in reality, the basic structure among all temples in the area, with a few differences in each construction.Sangameswara temple, Jambulingeswara temple, Papanatha temple, Galaganatha temple, and others are among the temples in the complex.
Each and every one of them was designed to face east. Surprisingly, a number of common stone quarries were discovered near Pattadakal, together with stone constructions that archaeologists regarded as significant. One such quarry, Motora Maradi, is a mysterious site with stone circles and megalithic formations. The dressed stone blocks confirm that the site was developed during the Chalukya dynasty, possibly as a burial ground. In recent years, graves in the neighbouring community of Huligemmanakolla have also been discovered.
Pattadakal is a town in Karnataka that can be reached by road from Bangalore, Belgaum, and Badami. In turn, these cities are well connected to the rest of India. How to get to Pattadakal is as follows:
By Air: The closest airport is in Belgaum, around 180 kilometres from Pattadakal. Belgaum is served by flights from Indian cities such as Mumbai and Chennai. Bengaluru International Airport is the closest international airport.
By Rail: Badami, about 22 kilometres from Pattadakal, is the nearest train station. The station is served by trains from areas like Solapur and Ahmedabad. To get to Pattadakal, you can either rent a taxi or take a bus from the station.
By Road: Pattadakal has a good road network. State-run buses travel between Bengaluru, Bijapur, Hubli, and Belgaum on a regular basis.
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