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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.

Jambulinga Temple

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.

Galaganatha Temple

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.

Sangameshvara 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.

Kashivishvanatha Temple

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.

Papanatha Temple

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.

Kadasiddhesvara Temple

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 course.

(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 and attendants.

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.

(Interior) The four columns at the centre of the pavilion have square bases, circular shaft decorated with garlands, and cushion capital with fluted brackets and extended vyalas. These support beams which have an eave on ribs carved on their outsides and which carry the sloping roof slabs above the outer aisles, over the central bay the beams are carved with an eave on a frieze of hamsas. Above are panels divided into niches by pairs of pilasters and surmounted by a miniature eave.

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.

Virupaksha Complex

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 course.

East Gateway

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.

West Gateway

(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.

West Wall

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.

Other Walls

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.

The southern shrine is of the same type as that to the north-west of the enclosure, but there is no parapet above the ceiling slabs. The shrine to the north is mostly ruined. Of the shrines in the north and south are walls, almost none are preserved. Several loose carved slabs are found near these minor shrines, and there is the occasional appearance of a carved slab placed in the wall. Above the enclosure walls are various blocks which once formed the elements of the parapet surmounting the wall. One shrine to the north of the mandapa of the temple is well preserved and is of the same type as that at the north-west of the enclosure. This shrine and place additional carvings of garlands. ganas and figures on its superstructures.

 

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.

Mallikarjuna Complex

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.