Pattadakal is one of India’s most artistically impressive Hindu temple complexes, located 15km east of Badami in Karnataka.
In total there are nine shrines of differing sizes, in a complex about the size of a football pitch next to the Malaprabha river. Almost all of them are from the 7th – 8th century, the early Chalukya period, although there is also a 9th century Jain temple on the outskirts of Pattadakal that I sadly wasn’t able to visit.
Unfortunately I failed to make any notes of which temple the following photos come from, so the text and the photos will not always go hand in hand this time around.
The largest and most important shrines are the Mallikarjuna and Virupaksha temples, both at the far end of the complex from the ticket office. Most of my photos are likely to come from these two temples as they are the most spectacular in terms of the art carved in stone. Both these temples were built around 745 A.D. by two Chalukya queens to celebrate the victory of King Vikramaditya over the Pallavas.
The quality and preservation of the carvings is simply staggering, it’s hard to imagine that they have stood the test of time for some 1,300 years. The level of detail and craftsmanship is hard to comprehend.
The Virupaksha Temple is thought to have been used for the coronation of Chalukya rulers, and is the largest and most intact of all the shrines at Pattadakal. Within the compound is a Nandi Mandapa (pavilion) sheltering a large carving of a bull, a later addition to the temple.
One of the highlights for me of the Virupaksha Temple was the imagery on the exterior, a series of carved panels interspersed with ornately carved windows. The details on some of the panels is superb, images of Shiva I could identify, along with Trivikrama, the giant avatar of Vishnu with one leg held high through the heavens.
The ornate temple windows also shed some amazing light into the temple interiors, which I was marginally successful at capturing on camera.
I would recommend half a day at Pattadakal to fully appreciate the temples here, combining it with either Badami or Aihole in a single day would be quite rushed in my opinion. It takes time to fully appreciate the detail of the art here, the more you look and stare, the more that starts to jump out at you. It takes a little time to get your eye in, and in the gloominess of the temple interiors your eyes also need time to adjust in order to comprehensively soak it all up.
If you have a camera, always be prepared for requests from people to photograph them. I’m told in the last picture, the two more senior women are elders from the local village.
Pattadakal is open dawn until dusk.
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