Continuing from the previous blog post, I decided to visit Aihole first followed by Pattadakal. I did want to travel up to Badami, however, I had less time at hand and had to reach Hyderabad the same night. So as soon as I was done with Aihole, I drove further up to Pattadakal temples to experience the architecture that took it from Chalukyas to UNESCO.
In this blog post, I’ll share details related to Pattadakal temples and my experience of visiting them. Pattadakal temples require at least half a day if not full if you want to every detail of the place. It’s spread across a wide area with multiple temples and hence taking a guide would be helpful. Most guides that I saw accompanied their clients at Aihole and Pattadakal as well.
History of Pattadakal
Pattadakal is a small village located on the banks of Malaprabha river and is about 22 km from Badami and about 14 km from Aihole. The village is famous for the group of Pattadakal temples that were constructed between the 7th & 8th centuries. Doing some time travel, let me also give you a glimpse into the history of Pattadakal. In fact, I spent a couple of hours reading about it, and it’s just fascinating.
To start with, it was initially ruled by a small kingdom called Kadamba in the early 4th century. If you’ve traveled to Goa and noticed the name of the state transport service, it’s called Kadamba and this is where the inspiration is taken from.
The region later came under the control of the Chalukya dynasty who made Pattadakal their capital in the 7-8th centuries. The name Pattadakal refers to a place of coronation and it was used by Chalukyas for coronation ceremonies.
Pattadakal along with Aihole and Badami became a major cultural center for architecture and related innovations. While Aihole became a place for learning back in the day, Badami and Pattadakal became places where architectural experiments were carried out for the next 2 centuries. It was during this period when ideas from the north and south India came together which led to the construction of these amazing Pattadakal temples.
The region came under siege by the Delhi Sultanate which led to the fall of Chalukyas. However, it was followed by the rise of the mighty Vijayanagara empire. It was during this time, a lot of forts were constructed in the area. After Vijayanagara, it was annexed by the Adil Shahi dynasty which was followed by Aurangzeb in the 17th century. Mughal Empire collapsed the region changed hands to Marathas, Tipu Sultan, and eventually the British.
While there were so many things that happened after these Pattadakal temples were built, it’s fortunate to see that these temples weren’t destroyed. Interestingly, Pattadakal temples were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1987! For reference, the Taj Mahal was included in 1983, and Ramappa Temple in 2018.
Reaching Pattadakal – Entry Ticket, Facilities
As you drive from Aihole to Pattadakal, you’ll drive through lush green paddy fields with mountains in the background. After crossing a few villages, you’ll cross the Malaprabha river and that’s when you get the first sight of Pattadakal temples.
Like other sites too, the entry ticket here is Rs 25. But you can book it online using the QR code present at the ticket counter and save Rs 5. There’s a clean washroom along with a drinking water facility, parking, and small eateries outside the complex.
I was here at around 11 AM and the sun was beating hard. If you’re a photographer, I’d recommend that you either visit this place in the morning or evening when the sun is down. You’ll surely get some amazing photos, unlike mine which were washed out.
Mesmerising Pattadakal Temples
Talking about the Pattadakal group of temples, there are a total of 10 temples out of which 9 are Hindu temples while one is Jain. 8 of these are clustered together which is the site that I visited. I’ll talk about a few important temples and not all. Because I want you to visit Pattadakal temples and get mesmerized by the beautiful architecture.
It’s one of the most iconic temples in Pattadakal known for its historical significance and marvelous architecture. Dedicated to lord Shiva, it is believed that this was built by Queen Lok Mahadevi to commemorate the successful military campaigns led by Vikramaditya II. It’s built in the classical Dravidian style with a gopuram at the entrance. Made of sandstone, the temple is built facing east with a Shiva ling placed in the sanctum.
The sanctum hall is surely one of the best I’ve visited. The roof rests on 16 massive pillars and each pillar has detailed inscriptions from Puranas and even other significant events from mythology like the abduction of Sita, along with depictions from Mahabharat and Panchtantra among other texts.
This is surely one of the best temples in terms of architecture that I’ve visited. The finesse in the carvings is just amazing the details are breathtaking. Taking a guide here will do total justice and give you more insights into the place. I so wish they had an audio guide here 🙁
The next temple that’s strikingly beautiful is the Mallikarjuna temple. It was built around the same time as the Virupaksha temple but is slightly smaller in size. The temple has a Vimana which reflects the south Indian architecture. The sanctum houses a Shiv ling and has small shrines dedicated to Goddess Durga.
While the temple resembles Virupaksha, there are some distinct features. The temple has a sculpture of Nataraj (dancing Shiva). Interestingly the topmost story of the Mallikarjuna temple has a sphere instead of a square roof like that of the Virupaksha temple.
Stone carvings as means of storytelling are common across the temple. From the Puranas to Panchtantra and day-to-day activities, everything is detailed on the stones.
One of the oldest temples in the complex is Sangmeshwara temple which was built during the reign of Vijayaditya. Interestingly the temple couldn’t be completed due to the death of the king, however, the work continued in later centuries. Even some inscriptions inside mention the sponsors who supported the construction of the temple.
The sanctum has a Shiva ling and huge carved windows. The Vimana structure and the outer walls are well preserved. The walls contain images of Lord Shiva and Vishnu, some of them incomplete though. One can also find decorative elements including elephants and other mythical creatures.
Based on my visits to other temples, I was on the lookout for elephants or lotus which are found at the base of this temple. I couldn’t find that at the Durga temple in Aihole, however, it was present here.
Kashi Vishweswara Temple
It’s one of the smaller temples in the complex. Much like the other temples, the inner sanctum has a Shiva ling and faces a platform with an idol of Nandi. There are structures called parnala and antarala which are stone structures to drain out water used during ceremonies.
The temple sits on a raised platform and has carvings of horses, and elephants, along with flowery designs. Further, this depicts the fusion of Northern and Dravidian styles very well. On the inside, there are pillars with intricate carvings depicting stories from the Puranas, Ramayan, and other Hindu scriptures.
Other Monuments In The Complex
Apart from the temples listed above, there is Galaganatha Temple, Chandrashekhara Temple, Jambulingeshwara Temple, Kadasiddheshwara Temple, Papanatha Temple along with the Jain Narayana Temple, and the Victory Pillar.
The victory pillar has inscriptions in Kannada which has some important details talking about the Chalukyas, and important events along with the details of the temples. It also has a sentence dedicated to the Kadambas who later on became allies to Chalukyas.
Apart from that, there is a temple where people worship too. In terms of maintenance, I’d say, this is one of the most well-maintained temple complexes that I’ve visited. Lush green grass beds overlook the temples. It’s clean and well-maintained.
Chalukyas to UNESCO – The Story of Pattadakal
I could have surely written a few thousand more words talking about the architecture of these temples. Trust me, you’ll be left astonished to see the details here. Places like these fascinate me and I’m so glad I revisited Pattadakal.
If you’re planning a trip to Karnataka, try to include Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal, and Hampi in your itinerary if you want to experience beautiful temples. Karnataka tourism has decent hotels in the region along with packages that you can opt for.
And with that, it’s a wrap-up to my Hyderabad to Bijapur road trip. During the trip, I drove from Hyderabad to Bijapur and from Pattadakal to Hyderabad on the way back. I explored the gems of Bijapur Gol Gumbaz and Ibrahim Roza followed by the Durga temple at Aihole. Lastly, I couldn’t have gone home without visiting Pattadakal.