Aihole & Pattadakal – The Cradle of South Indian Temple Architecture

Aihole and Pattadakal located on the banks of Malaprabha River are often considered as the cradle of South Indian architecture. The south Indian Temple architecture was experimented and evolved in these places in the 5th and 6th centuries. Once in Badami, these are a must visit for any travel enthusiast. You can visit both Aihole and Pattadakal in a single day from Badami if you set out in the early morning. It is best to start with the morning bus to Aihole (one hour). Frequent buses run between Aihole and Pattadakal (half an hour) and from Pattadakal to Badami (one hour).

AIHOLE
Aihole was earlier known as Ayyavole and Aryapura in in the ancient inscriptions. It was established in the 450 AD as the first capital of Chalukya kings and has about 125 stone temples some of which were constructed as experimental structures by artisans of Chalukayan period. The early Chalukyas inherited architectural styles largely from their neighbours to the north and south of their kingdom. The Chalukyan artisans brought together the prevailing styles in their neighbourhood to create the Chalukyan style. The prominent temple groups at Aihole are the Kontigudi group and the Galgantha group of temples, although historians have divided all the temples into 22 groups.

The most impressive temple in Aihole is Durga Temple which dates to the 7th century. It is notable for its semicircular apse which was copied from Buddhist architecture and for the remains of the curvilinear sikhara. Intricate carvings adorn the colonnaded passageway around the temple sanctuary. To the south of the Durga Temple are several other collections of temples the Gandar, Ladkhan, Kontigudi and Hucchapaya groups with pavilions and slightly sloping roofs.

Durga Temple at Aihole
Durga Temple at Aihole
Durga Temple - Front View
Durga Temple – Front View
Durga Temple
Durga Temple
Durga Temple - Carvings on the pillar
Durga Temple – Carvings on the pillar
Deurga Temple - More Views
Deurga Temple – More Views
Durga Temple - Interior
Durga Temple – Interior
Durga Temple - Interior
Durga Temple – Interior
Durga Temple - Interior view
Durga Temple – Interior view
Durga Temple - View of the ceiling
Durga Temple – View of the ceiling
Ornamental Carvings on the Pillar
Ornamental Carvings on the Pillar
The Colonnade Passage around the Durga Temple Sanctuary
The Colonnade Passage around the Durga Temple Sanctuary
Carvings inside the Durga Temple
Carvings inside the Durga Temple
Carvings inside the Temple walls
Carvings inside the Temple walls
Carvings inside the Temple Walls
Carvings inside the Temple Walls
Carvings inside the Temple
Carvings inside the Temple
Durga Temple Interior Views
Durga Temple Interior Views
Durga Temple Interior View
Durga Temple Interior View
Durga Temple - Exterior View
Durga Temple – Exterior View
Another view of the Durga Temple
Another view of the Durga Temple

Lad Khan Temple consists of a shrine with two mantapas in front of it. The shrine bears Shiva Lingam. The mukha mantapa in front of the sanctum has a set of 12 carved pillars. There are also stone grids on the wall carrying floral designs. The temple was built by the Chalukyan kings in the 5th century.

The Lad Khan Temple
The Lad Khan Temple

Ravan Phadi cave is one of the oldest rock cut temple in Aihole. The Temple dates back to the 6th century, with rectangular shrine, with two mantapas. There is a Shivlinga in the sanctum sanctorum. The walls and sides of the temple are covered with large figures including dancing Shiva.

Ravan Pahadi
Ravan Pahadi
Dancing Shiva inside Ravan Pahadi
Dancing Shiva inside Ravan Pahadi
More Carvings inside Ravan Pahadi
More Carvings inside Ravan Pahadi
More Carvings inside Ravan Pahadi
More Carvings inside Ravan Pahadi

About a kilometre from the Durga temple on a hilltop is the Jain Meguti temple. It is the only dated monument built in 634 AD. The temple sits on a raised platform, and flight of stairs leads to another shrine on the roof, directly above the main shrine. From the roof of this temple one can have panoramic view of the surrounding plain with 100 or more temples scattered all around. This temple which was probably never completed gives important evidence of the early development in Dravidian style of architecture. The inscription on the outer wall of the temple records the construction of the temple by Ravikeerthi, a scholar in the court of emperor Pulakeshin II.

Meguti Temple
Meguti Temple
Meguti Temple Compound
Meguti Temple Compound
The Inscription on the outer wall of the Temple
The Inscription on the outer wall of the Temple
View of Aihole Village from top of Meguti Temple
View of Aihole Village from top of Meguti Temple

En route to Meguti temple on the same hillock there is the 6th century two storied Buddhist cave temple which is partly a rock cut temple.

The two storied Budhist Caves
The two storied Budhist Caves
This is Raviyappa (in the middle) and his friends, the local boy whom I met around the ruins
This is Raviyappa (in the middle) and his friends, the local boy whom I met around the ruins
A typical village home at Aihole Village
A typical village home at Aihole Village
A bullock cart in front of the village home
A bullock cart in front of the village home
Another Village Home
Another Village Home
A farmer's house with all the paraphernalia
A farmer’s house with all the paraphernalia

PATTADAKAL
Pattadakal also spelled as Pattadakallu is located on the left bank of Malaprabha River and about 10 kilometres from Aihole. It is here that the Chalukyan kings were coronated. There are ten temples at Pattadakal including a Jain sanctuary belonging to various architectural styles. The Chalukyan style of temple architecture originated in Aihole and evolved their distinctive style at Pattadakal. There are many Kannada language inscriptions at Pattadakal. The site displays both Nagara and Dravidian style of architecture.

Virupaskha temple is the largest and grandest of all temples in Pattadakal built in 8th century by Queen Lokamhadevi to commemorate her husband’s (Vikramaditya II) victory over the Pallavas of Kanchi.

Sangameshvara Temple is the oldest temple in Pattadakal, built by Chalukya King Vijayaditya Satyashraya. The temple is in Dravidian style.

Mallikarjuna Temple is smaller version of the Virupaksha temple and was built by Vikramaditya’s second queen Trilokymahadevi in 745 AD.

Papanatha Temple is made in the Vesara style in 680 AD. The temple was started in Nagara style but later changed to more balance Dravidian style.

Apart from these major temples, several small Shiva shrines are seen here. The abundance of Shiva temples here clearly indicates that the place was a great Shaiva center in ancient times.

Pattadakal Temple Complex
Pattadakal Temple Complex
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal - Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Pattadakal – Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Carvings on the Temple Walls
Carvings on the Temple Walls
Pattadakal - Carvings on the Walls
Pattadakal – Carvings on the Walls
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
The Shiv linga inside the sanctum
The Shiv linga inside the sanctum
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal - Various sculptures
Pattadakal – Various sculptures
Pttadakal - Old Kannada Inscription
Pttadakal – Old Kannada Inscription
Pattadakal - Papanatha Temple
Pattadakal – Papanatha Temple
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Patadakal - More carvings
Patadakal – More carvings
Pattadakal - Carvings
Pattadakal – Carvings
S small shrine inside the temple complex
S small shrine inside the temple complex

Pattadakal - Carved pillars
Pattadakal – Carved pillars
Pattadakal - The monolithic Nandhi in one of the shrines
Pattadakal – The monolithic Nandhi in one of the shrines

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