PATTADAKAL - A WORLD HERITAGE SITE
Documentary Film Series on Pattadakal
Pattadakal was not only popular for Chalukyan Architectural activities,
but also a holy place for royal coronation. Pattadakisuvlal Temples constructed
here mark the blending of the Rekha Nagara Prasada and the Dravida Vimana
styles of temples building.
The oldest temple at Pattadakal is Sangameshvara built by Vijayaditya
Satyasraya (AD 697 - 733). It is simple but massive structure.
Virupaksha temple of the Chalukyan period served as a model for the Rashtrakuta
ruler to carve out the great Kailasa at Ellora. The sculptural art of
the early Chalukyas is characterized by grace and delicate details. The
ceiling panels of the navagrahas, dikpalas, the dancing Nataraja, the
wall niches containing Lingodbhava, Ardhanarishvara, Tripurari, Varahavishnu,
Trivikrama bear ample testimony to the sculptors skill as well as the
cult worship in vogue. The narrative reliefs illustrating certain episodes
from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata and Panchatantra titled well
with these grand religious edifices.
Located on the banks of the Mallaprabha river, Pattadakal was never associated
with any town; rather, it functioned as a royal commemorative site, and
also as a setting for coronation ceremonies. Seven temples are closely
grouped together, though irregularly, surrounded by numerous minor shrines
and plinths. To the south and west of the complex is the modern village;
further south is the Papanatha temple. Despite the discovery of brick
foundations, possibly dating back to the Satavahana era (second and third
centuries), none of the stone temples at Pattadakal predate the Early
Western Chalukyan period. Three temples are definitely associated with
early eighth century rulers according to the historical information recorded
on a column set up at the site by Kirtivarman II. The Pattadakal temples
represent the climax of Early Western Chalukya architecture; they also
provide one of the most striking illustrations in India of the coexistence
of different building styles and art traditions. The increased scale of
the temples, accompanied by a complex elevational and spatial treatment
and a rich decoration pervading all parts of the exterior and interior,
testifies to the ambition and taste of their royal patrons. In fact, the
contemporary Virupaksha and Mallikarjuna temples are the largest and most
richly decorated monuments of their time, unparalleled anywhere else in
India before the middle of the eighth century. That building activity
continued after the collapse of the Early Western Chalukyas is indicated
by the Kashivishvanatha temple, probably belonging to the second half
of the eighth century. The Jain temple to the east of the site has been
associated with the Rashtrakuta period.
Like its neighbour, the Kadasiddheshvara temple, this example is a small
structure with a northern style tower, notable for the pronounced horse-shoe
arched projection on its front face framing an image of Shiva dancing.
The delicately pilastered walls betray a southern stylistic influence.
To the east is the foundation of a Nandi pavilion.
Possibly never completed, this temple is unlike any other in the area;
its close relation to the monuments at Alampur suggests that craftsmen
from that site were imported for its construction. The most striking feature
of the temple is its well-preserved tower, broken only on the east side
revealing its hollow interior. The design demonstrates an evolved stage
in the development of the northern style-the number of horizontal tiers
are multiplied and several intermediate stages added. Horse-shoe arched
motifs, both complete and 'split', create a lace-like mesh rising up the
central projection; flattened ribbed fruit motifs are placed at the outside.
Of the three porches that once sheltered the pierced stone windows flanking
sculpture panels, only that on the south is preserved. This may be compared
to similar porches in the Papanatha temple.
Founded by Vijayaditya at the beginning of the eighth century as the Vijayeshvara
temple, this structure remains incomplete despite several building phases
(the columned hall is clearly a later addition). The sanctuary and superstructure,
however, are original; their finely proportioned storeys capped by the
square-to-dome roof form constitute one of the great acilievements of
the Chalukya architects. The moulded base with mythical animals, the wall
symmetrically divided by pilasters flanking sculpture panels (mostly unfinished)
and the perforated stone windows were closely copied in the succeeding
Virupaksha and Mallikarjuna temples.
Built uncomfortably close to the Mallikarjuna temple, this building probably
belongs to the period after the Early Western Chalukya collapse in the
middle of the eighth century, though it is clearly related to the other
temples at the site. The superstructure displays the fully evolved northern
style: the mesh-like design found on the central band of the Galaganatha
temple tower here completely covers the surface of the tower, divided
into recessed planes rising continuously from the base of the walls. A
reduced and rectangular columned hall to the east is surmounted by a large
horse-shoe arch. The niches on the outer walls may be compared to those
from the Papanatha temple. The interior is richly decorated.
In many respects this temple is unique - two columned halls lead to the
sanctuary, probably originally conceived as a detached structure and only
later enclosed by walls to create an unusually confined ambulatory passageway.
The northern features in this temple are seen in the mouldings surmounting
the sculpture panels, derived from 'split' horse-shoe arched forms, and
the three porches sheltering pierced stone windows flanking sculpture
panels. The superstructure is also typically northern being similar to
the towers of the Jambulinga and Kadasiddheshvara temples at the same
site. The southern features are recognised in the parapet above the walls
and the carved doorways which have foliated aquatic monsters perched on
pilasters. Running around the outer walls and on the columns of the east
porch are friezes illustrating episodes from the great Hindu epics, the
Ramayana and Mahabharata. Inside the temple is richly decorated, exuberant
foliation typical of the last phase of Early Western Chalukya art.
This temple is undated and there are no inscriptions.
(Plan) A square garbhagrha with projections on its north, west and south
walls adjoins a rectangular mandapa. The lingam on the peetha in the garbhagriha
is original. There is a small extension of the garbhagriha to the east.
Windows in the north and south walls of the mandapa provide lighting.
Access to the mandapa is by a flight of steps which are modern. The curious
brackets above the dvarapalas, carved on the engaged-columns either side
of the mandapa doorway, suggest that beams of a porch may have been intended
to be supported here. However, the plinth to the mandapa is continuous
on the east side and not broken, as if to accommodate a porch.
(External Elevation) The plinth consists of an upana, an octagonal kumuda,
a vertical course provided with flat pilasters, and a projecting band.
The wall surfaces are unrelieved except for a frieze of ganas carrying
garlands above. The wall is completed by a kapota cornice decorated with
kudus. The projections of the garbhagriha walls are created by flat pilasters
with square brackets which support pediments composed of interlocking
kudu motifs built up in a triangular fashion. Rearing vyalas and gandharva
couples are also found here. Icons are carved in the three projections,
that to the south is damaged. Only the window in the north mandapa wall
is preserved and employs a svastika design. The two engaged-columns either
side of the mandapa doorway have dvarapalas carved on their shafts with
curved brackets. The doorway is badly damaged but is created by a pair
of pilasters set in recessed bands which return over the lintel. The roof
slabs of the mandapa are carried directly upon the cornice and are horizontal.
One of these is now missing. The superstructure rises above the garbhagriha
walls and is of the kapota and amalaka type with nine ascending and diminishing
tiers of three elements across. The three projections on each side, frame
two recesses. Kudus are employed throughout as decoration, some of which
have miniature peering faces. The whole rests on a vertical course provided
with a band of pilasters which is repeated between the two kapotas which
surmount the superstructure. No finial is preserved. On the east face
is a panel carved with a large kudu and Natesa icon on an upana and vertical
(Interior) The garbhagriha doorway is created by a pair of pilasters set
among decorated bands which return over the opening. Miniature icons'
are placed on the capitals of these pilasters and over the centre of the
opening. The panels beneath at either side are carved with river goddesses
Virupaksha Nandi Pavilion
To the east of the Virupaksha is a square pavilion placed on axis with
the temple, housing a large Nandi image.
(Plan) The square outer walls of the pavilion are broken so that large
openings are made in the centres of each side. Access is by a flight of
steps to the west, but these are modern, and the original steps may have
been at the east judging from the markings on the plinth there. Slabs
providing balcony seating are placed in the openings. In the centre of
the pavilion, a raised floor with four columns supports the Nandi image.
(External Elevation) The plinth consists of an upana, a vertical course
carved with lions and elephants, a kapota with kudus, and a frieze of
vyalas and makaras corresponding to the ends of the floor slabs. The whole
is divided into a number of projections and recesses. The walls are divided
into two parts on each elevation separated by the opening. Each part consists
of a wall surface and engaged-column. In the centre of each wall surface
is a niche created by a pair of pilasters framing a carving of an attendant
female. Above is a miniature eave and kudu pediment. The engaged-columns
have their outer faces, and also those faces flanking the opening, carved
with attendant figures and mithuna couples, placed beneath decorated part-circles.
The brackets are fluted and have rearing vyalas. The slabs providing balcony
seating have their outer faces carved with pots, foliated panels and vyalas.
The slabs from the north opening are missing. At the corners of the pavilion,
flat pilasters have curious outstretched figures as brackets. These support
an overhanging eave with deeply carved ribs. Above the cave are series
of vyalas and makaras upon which rest the bevelled ends of the sloping
roof slabs. The joints of the roof slabs are protected by thin stone strips.
The other details of the roof are obscured by modern additions.
Some of these niches are provided with icons. The roof slab above
are horizontal and have their underside carved with a lotus ceiling panel.
The inner surfaces of the beams carried over the opening are carved with
similar niches beneath which are ganas.
Surrounding the Virupaksha temple and Nandi pavilion is an enclosure wall
entered by gateways in the east and west sides on axis with the temple
and its pavilion. The walls are laid out in a rectangle with projections
in the north and south sides, approximating to the width of the temple
mandapa. The space enclosed around the Nandi pavilion is larger than that
around the pradaksinapatha walls of the temple. Against the interior faces
of the wall are a number of small shrines, some of which are later additions,
and which are now mostly in a ruined condition. Those at the corners of
the complex and in the south wall are most likely to be original. Much
of the wall on the north side has disappeared, leaving only the foundation
The two inscriptions are found on the porch columns of this gateway.
(Plan) This gateway consists of a central corridor, almost at ground level,
flanked on either side by raised areas provided with two free-standing
columns and two engaged-columns. To the east is a porch whose roof slabs
are supported on four columns with balcony seating. Access steps lead
up from the river.
(External Elevation) The plinth rises above a foundation course and consists
of an upana, a vertical course provided with box-like projections at the
niches, and a kapota with kudus. The central corridor is level with the
top of the upana. At the corners of the outer walls are pilasters with
ganas and vyalas for brackets. Similar pilasters appear either side of
the engaged-columns which frame the doorway on the west side. These engaged-columns
have their shafts divided by decorated raised bands, part-circles and
vertical connecting strips. On the east wall. these engaged-columns are
carved with mithuna couples and frame a doorway consisting of pilasters
set in recessed bands. The upper portions of the doorway are now damaged.
The porch columns are of the same type as the engaged-columns, and the
slabs placed between them providing balcony seating on the inside have
their outer faces carved with pots set between pilasters on vyalas and
lions. The niches on the east and west walls of the gateway are created
by pairs of pilasters whose brackets support a miniature cave, animal
frieze and kudu. The interiors of the kudus are carved with icons and
miniature temple superstructures. The niches are now empty. At the top
of the walls is a frieze of ganas with garlands, from which springs the
deeply cut eave on ribs. The ends of the roof slabs which rest on the
eave are carved with vyalas and makaras. Above are protruding water spouts
and the parapet. This consists of two vertical courses divided by a projecting
nib and two kutas at the corners with two intermediate salas joined by
a low curved moulding. Only on the west side is the parapet entirely preserved.
(Interior) The columns have their shafts divided by two raised bands,
part-circles and vertical connecting strips. The brackets are fluted and
support beams. The roof slabs are raised and horizontal over the central
corridor but sloping over the side areas. The undersides of the porch
roof slabs are carved with a lotus ceiling panel.
(Plan) A flight of steps from the west leads up to the central corridor
of the gateway which is set between two raised areas, separated from the
corridor by engaged-columns. A doorway leads to a porch to the east.
(External Elevation) Because of the difference in levels, the plinth on
the inside of the enclosure has only its upper kapota visible. On the
outside of the enclosure, the plinth rises above a foundation course and
consists of an upana, a vertical course, and a frieze of vyalas and makaras.
These are divided into three projections either side of the west doorway
and on the north and south walls. Curious ganas and attendants appear
above each of the plinth projections. The outer walls on the west side
are otherwise unrelieved except for the engaged-columns framing the opening
which have fluted brackets. Dvarapalas are carved on their inner faces.
A deep eave on ribs overhangs the walls upon which rest the ends of the
roof slabs, blocked out as if to receive carving. One course of the parapet
still remains. The east wall is provided with niches of the same type
as those found on the east gateway, one of which still has its carved
panel. Most of the eave and parapet above are damaged. The porch columns
have mithuna couples carved on their inner faces with fluted brackets
and rearing vyalas above.
(Interior) The engaged-columns are of the same type as those of the west
gateway, they support beams upon which rest the horizontal roof slabs.
The doorway between the corridor and porch is created by a pair of pilasters
set in recessed bands, the upper portions of which are incomplete.
This is one of the best preserved portions of the enclosure. On the exterior
or western face, the wall is divided by pilasters set upon an upana plinth
supporting an eave. At the northern and southern ends, square shrines
are found. Their ceiling slabs rest upon the wall eave and are carved
with vyalas and makaras. The shrine to the north is well preserved and
has a parapet of two kutas and a sala on each side above the ceiling slabs.
A small superstructure rises above, its lower storey divided by pilasters
into riches and miniatures icons. This supports another eave, a frieze
of animals and two vertical courses divided by a projecting nib. On this
rests the roof in the in the form of an enlarged kuta, with kudus in the
centre of each side. The walls of the shirne, as seen from within the
enclosure, have their corners provided with pilasters resting on a lion.
The doorway is created by a pair of pilasters of either side of which
are dvarapalas. The lower portion of the southern shrine on the west wall
are similar to this shrine. The superstructure above, however, is now
ruined. Between these corner shrines and the centrally positioned gateway,
are subsidiary shrines on a rectangular plan. At their corners, they have
pilasters and resting on the lions, and their doorways are created by
pairs of pilasters and dvarapalas supporting an eave. Above rises a series
of the mouldings culminating in a large sala with a kudu at its centre.
On the south face of the two shrines to the north of the gateway, pairs
of pilasters have makaras with foliated tails and gana riders on their
capitals. Garlands appear One from the open makara Jaws. A carved panel
is placed in the wall to the north of the gateway.
The east wall of the enclosure has corner shrines at its northern and
southern ends, with inner intermediate shrines, most of which are now
ruined. The outer face of the wall is carved with pilasters and surmounted
by an eave and various roof forms.
Malukarjuna Nandi Pavilion
The Nandi pavilion stands to the east of the temple and on axis with it.
The pavilion is now mostly ruined, but there is the possibility that it
was never completed.
(Plan) The building is square with large projections in the centre of
each side. These projections housed porches composed of two engaged-columns
framing an opening and two free-standing columns. Only the porch to the
east is preserved. Nothing remains of the interior arrangement of the
pavilion, but this may have been similar to that of the Virupaksha Nandi
pavilion. Access is by a flight of steps from the west.
(External Elevation) The plinth consists of an upana, a vertical course
carved with lions and elephants, a kapota decorated with kudus, and a
frieze of vyalas and makaras coinciding with the ends of the floor slabs.
The plinth is divided into a number of projections and recesses. The wall
surfaces of which only the eastern portions are preserved, have pilasters
at the corners and engaged-columns either side of the openings. Between
these are two niches created by pairs of pilasters surmounted by an eave
and a kudu. In the niches are carved female attendants. The engaged-columns
were carved with figures but these are mostly damaged. The capitals are
of the cushion type with fluted brackets and rearing vyalas. Together
with the pilaster brackets, they support a beam from which springs a deeply
carved eave on ribs. The fragments of roof slabs above are carved with
projections. The free-standing columns of the porch have circular fluted
shafts decorated with garlands, the capitals are curved and fluted. Only
a fragment of the Nandi image is now to be seen.
To the south of the Mallikarjuna, enclosure walls with gateways and minor
shrines adjoin those of the Virupaksha so as to provide the Mallikarjuna
with an enclosure similar to that of the Virupaksha. From the junction
of the enclosure walls of the two temples, there can be little doubt that
those of the Mallikarjuna were added later to the existing Virupaksha
walls. The west gateway to the enclosure is now mostly ruined, but may
have been of the type found in the west wall of the Virupaksha enclosure.
The minor shrines and walls to the south are also ruined, but carved slabs
are placed in the walls and there are pilastered projections on the south
face. Almost nothing remains of the gateway to the south of the enclosure.
Only foundation courses are to be seen to the north of the Nandi pavilion,
but even these disappear to the north of the temple itself. It may be
that these walls were never completed, or were partly dismantled to make
way for the building of the Kasivisvanatha.