Pattadakal Temple Complex

The temple complex, which dates from the time of the Chalukya dynasty, consists of nine Hindu temples and a Jain shrine. Pattadakal was a melting pot of North and South Indian architecture. An outstanding building is the Virupaksha Temple from the 8th century, which is decorated with lavish stone carvings.

Pattadakal Temple Complex: Facts

Official title: Pattadakal Temple Complex
Cultural monument: nine Hindu temples and one Jain sanctuary from the time of the Chalukya dynasty, including Sangameshvara Temple, also known as Sri Vijayeshvara, Virupaksha Temple, Papanatha Temple with reliefs from the Ramayana, an ancient Indian epic, Mallikarjuna Temple, the unfinished Galaganatha Temple as well as the Jambulinga Temple and the Kashivishveshvara Temple
Continent: Asia
Country: India, Karnataka
Location: Pattadakal on Malaprabha, northeast of Dharwar
Appointment: 1987
Meaning: in the architecture of the Hindu temples and a Jain place of worship a harmonious combination of the North and South Indian architectural styles

Pattadakal Temple Complex: History

696-733 Vijayaditya Satyashraya, builder of Sri Vijayeshvara
734-745 King Vikramaditya II
740 Construction of the Virupaksha Temple, a foundation of Queen Lokamahadevi
744 Completion of the Mallikarjuna Temple
750 Construction of the Papanatha temple

For the gods – for the glory of the king

When in the evening television program Rama and Hanuman lead the monkey army into battle to free the virtuous Sita from the clutches of the ten-headed and twenty-armed demon king Ravana, the streets of major Indian cities are deserted today. Many centuries ago people were enthusiastic about such stories. They suffered with Draupati when the dice game went to their evil cousins ​​as a win, and they enjoyed the pranks of young Krishna when they “read” the exciting adventures of their heroes from the magnificently designed friezes of their temples. These “comics in stone” also add to the artistic significance of Pattadakal.

Pattadakal is a special place, surrounded by a landscape that is characterized by erratic rock formations and round cut stone blocks. And it is also a particularly sacred place: The Malaprabha river flows northwards here – in the sense of Indian mythology, towards Mount Meru, the magical center of the world. The kings of the Chalukya dynasty founded an unusual city here in the first half of the 8th century, as it was never inhabited by humans. In addition to numerous smaller shrines, several magnificent temples were built here – in honor of the gods and in honor of the kings who felt themselves to be their embodiment on earth. From then on, all rulers were crowned at this chosen place.

According to ethnicityology, the two most beautiful temples, both in the so-called South Indian style, were donated by two queens who were sisters in memory of their common husband, King Vikramaditya II, who had triumphed over the Pallavas with his followers and conquered their capital Kanchipuram. An inscription reports that the king brought architects and sculptors with him from the conquered capital so that they might build a temple for him like the famous Kailasha Temple in Kanchi. The larger of the two and the most important of all is the Virupaksha Temple. The »All Saints« with a Shiva linga, the »phallic column«, is surrounded on three sides by a corridor that opens to the east into a large hall. Finely crafted reliefs on the pillars tell vividly of the deeds of the gods.

Flat pillars separate niches on the outer facade with expressive sculptures that illustrate the rich Indian mythology: the eight-armed Shiva, who crushes the demon of ignorance in a cosmic dance; or Shiva as Ardhanarishvara, half man, half woman, symbolizing the creative power of God and the dynamic energy of the mother goddess. You can see Vishnu who, as a lion man, comes to grips with the demon Hiranyakashipu, or how he comes flying on the back of the bird of god Garuda to save an elephant that is attacked by a crocodile. The temple entrances are flanked by grim guards armed with a trident or a snake-wrapped club.

Smaller and less lavishly decorated with sculptures, the temples in the so-called North Indian style impress with their tower, which tapers conically upwards in a gentle curve and is crowned by a large, grooved end stone. The river goddesses Ganga and Yamuna flank the entrance. A horseshoe-shaped group of figures on the tower facade shows the “master” of the temple: impressive at the Jambulinga temple is the dancing Shiva with his wife Parvati and the bull Nandi. The somewhat distant Papanatha Temple, on the other hand, combines elements of the North and South Indian style in a particularly concise form.

The Chalukya dynasty made lasting contributions to architecture and art in India not only in Pattadakal: In the early days they took the art of cave temples to new heights, then they experimented with all the forms of the free-standing structural temple known at the time and laid the foundations for the further development of the South Indian temple architecture.

Pattadakal Temple Complex