Pattadakal has been declared a world heritage monument in the 90’s for its sheer artistic splendour and glamour. It is located 22 kms away from Badami, which serves as the base town for many tourists in view of accommodation facility. The ideal time to arrive at this destination for photography is between 3 to 4 Pm, when the light conditions are absolute harmony with nature. One shoot their pictures with all their elements of nature, sky, sand stone in perfect co-ordination.
A group of 8 monuments was known in Ptolemy in his “Geography” as Petirgal in 2nd century AD. This place was also known as Pattada Kisovolal ( valley of red soil and stones ). Literally Pattadakal means a red township. These locales were ideal setting for pre historic Mesolithic and Neolithic mankind to survive and breed. The hillocks are surmountable with ease and plenty of water source from the Malaprabha river which flows from the western ghat transgressing and joining at Kudalasangama where all the three rivers meet viz Malaprabha, Ghataprabha and Krishna.
Monuments of Pattadakal
Virupaksha Temple, Mallikarjuna Temple, & Sangameswara temple which are in typical Dravidian style of temple architecture.
Galganatha Temple, Jambulingeswar temple, Chandrasekhara temple, Kasieswara Temple& Kadasiddeswara temples, are all in Nagara style which is more of north Indian tower or pyramid types
Papanatha Temple is another hybrid temple which combines both the classical southern and north Indian architecture.
Monolithic Pillar Inscription : It is virtually a decree referring to puranas and conquest of Vikramaditya during the times built by Trilokamahadevi who was his queen and mother of Kirtivarman II ( 744-756 AD )
Galaganatha Temple : A typical North Indian Nagara style century temple constructed in 8th century, which may have been precursor to the temple architecture in the north. A dancing shiva is chiseled in the door frame, with a beautiful shikara which almost 20 feet in height from the roof. An eight armed avatar of Lord Shiva is shown slaying his demonic prey Andhakasura with his trident. One of the interesting depiction on the mould in the east is that of a mischievous monkey from Panchatantra and tale of two birds from the same epic. The overall dimension of this temple is a typical 30x40 site. This temple is built around by 750 AD during the reign of Kirtivarman varman II.
Virupakasha Temple : This temple is known as the coronation temple where apparently kings were crowned. Lokeswar or Virupakasha temple was built by queen Lokadevi in commemoration of King Vikramaditya’s II ( 733-744 ) victory over the Pallavas in 740 AD. The dimension of this temple is 224 x 105 sq feet. The design of this temple is almost similar to Kanchi Kailasha temple. A massive hall known as Rangamantapa with 18 massive pillars depicting various scenes from Ramayana, Mahabharat and Bhagvatha is engraved on the façade of the pillars. Various postures of couples in romantic mood are installed on the side walls, which are in various stages of destruction. One of the panels potray 10 different life style prevailing at the time, dancing, hunting, battlefield, intrigues & conspiracy, killing, prayer, and romance. The centre stage is taken by the Lord Vishnu.
The entire set of pillars are embellished with elegant carvings depicting episodes from Ramayana signifying the abduction of Sita, from Mahabharat where Bhishma pitmah is lying on bed of arrows. Scenes from Bhagavata displays Lord Krishna lifting the Govardhan mountain with one finger to protect the villagers against the wrath of Indra. If one wants to experience the same a beautiful 2D animation film is produced by Iskcon and can be seen in their auditorium at Iskcon Bangalore. This film has won a cannes award for its production value. Arjuna receiving pasupatrastra from is also etched on the pillars. Rati and Manmathas rasleela is potrayed in form of armorous couple.
Kadasiddheswara Temple : It is a modest temple built on the nagara style. At the doorway of the sanctum one finds figures of shiva and parvathi on one side and bramha and Vishnu on the other side. There are attendants and river goddess giving them company. It is basically an experimental stage before construction of the Galagnatha temple.
Jambulingeswar Temple : This temple is another experiment in the sikhara style, with a raised plinth. There are sculptures of Shiva, Vishnu and Surya along with swans. There is a Nandi in usual couched position. The khalasa is missing from the temple tower.
Chandrashekara Temple : This Dravidian temple is built around 750 AD, with a Shiv Linga in the garbhagriha. There are sentries in the doorway offering protection to the Lord. The walls around a decorated with simple designs.
Sangameswara Temple : This temple remained incomplete despite the best of the efforts due to some structural fault I suppose. This temple was commission in 720 AD during the reign of King Vijayaditya ( 696-733 AD). This temple houses a Linga in the garbhagriha. The hall seems to have been subsequently strengthened by pillars and arches, and sculptures of Lord Shiva and Vishnu in various stages of carving. There are three perforated windows which is typical of hoysala temples. There seems to some obstacle in form of intervening warfare, conspiracy or astrological advice which stopped the completion of this temple.
Kasivisveswara Temple : The last of the temple built around 8th century, maybe even attributable to Rashtrakutas. The symmetry has been maintained to follow the chalukyan style and it represents the Nagara style of North Indian architecture. There is a couched Nandi on the basement. There are chaitya arches which are typical Buddhist style. The sculptures of Ravana lifting the Kailash parvath, exploits of Lord Krishna, elegantly carved ceiling panels depicting Siva, Parvathi hold Karthik and Nandi surrounded by eight dwarapalikas. The Lions carved on the beam appears to support the ceiling.
Mallikarjuna Temple : This temple is also known as Sri Trilokeswara Maha Saila in an inscription, which is slated to have been built in 740 AD. Triloka Mahadevi was the queen of King Vikramaditya II ( 733-745 AD) who built the temple to commemorate the victory over the Pallavas. In appearance the temple appears to have close resemblance to Virupaksha temple. There is a separte mantap in front of this temple which houses the Nandi in a 4 pillared structure, where a priest conducts some puja. This is the only place where Pooja is allowed in the entire temple complex thankfully retaining the pristine glory of the World Heritage. There are various depictions of Mahisasura being eliminated by durga, churning of the ocean, Narashimha fighting Hirayanakashpu , Lord Krishna slaying Maricha, There figures of romantic couples in various postures which is preserved in pristine condition unlike Virupaksha temple complex.
Papanatha Temple : This modest temple seems to have been completed around the same time as Virupaksha and Mallikarjuna Temple during the reign of Vikramaditya. A mid course correction while temple is being constructed is evident by narrowing the circambulatory path. There is no Nandi sculpture in this temple which is strange.
Ramayana episodes are engraved on the façade of the temple. Another unique feature is that the name of some of the sculptors names are also embedded, they are Baladeva, Devaraya, Changama, Revadi, Ovajja, etc. This temple is a hybrid form a sort of experimentation has taken place in trying to be unique when compared to other two temples.
A church is built besides the famous Jaina temple @ Pattadakal. It is a unique picture present the visitors who come looking for an ancient heritage. Many a miss out this church thinking it as some stone structure, only one ventures into the frontal portion one can find the true colours. My intention is not to breed hatred but request all religious believers, including hindus to stay a clear 200 feet away from all heritage sites. They are invaluable treasures. Each and every monument is a potential World heritage site. Another glaring commission is that of repainting these heritage sites with modern paints which literally murders the past heritage. Some of these structures are worth millions or priceless. This temple has been rebuilt by ASI with all its markings is clearly visible.