Pattadakal (Pattadakallu in local language ) in the Indian state of Karnataka is renowned for the group of the 8th century CE monuments. These are listed in the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Located on the banks of the river Malaprabha, Pattadakal is the capital of the Chalukya rulers. Packed with a dozen or so temples of varying sizes and antiquity, Pattadakal is one of the unique places to see that many temples of the early Chalukyan architecture. Also it is a rare place where the south Indian & north Indian style temples share the same landscape.
This place reached its pinnacle of glory under the Chalukyas from the seventh to the ninth centuries functioning as a royal commemorative site. The group of about ten temples, surrounded by numerous minor shrines & plinths, represents the climax of early Western Chalukyan Architecture. King Vikramaditya II (734 – 745 AD) and his art loving queens Lokmahadevi & Trailkyamahadevi, brought sculptors from Kanchipuram to create fantasies in stone in Pattadakal.
The oldest temple at Pattadakal is Sangamesvara built by Vijayaditya Satyasraya (AD 697-733). The other notable temples at Pattadakal are the Kadasiddhesvara, Jambulingeswara both attributed to 7th century A.D. while Galaganatha temple was built a century later in the style of rekha nagara prasada. The Kasivisvesvara temple was the last to be built in early Chalukyan style. The Mallikarjuna temple was constructed by Rani Trilokyamahadevi to celebrate the victory over the Pallavas by Vikramaditya II. She is also credited to have built the Virupaksha temple influenced by the architecture of the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram. The Virupaksha temple later served as a model for the Rashtrakuta ruler Krishna I (757 -783 A.D.) to carve out the great Kailasa at Ellora.
The Virupaksha temple was built by Lokeswari one of the queens of Vikramaditya II in honor of his victorious battle against the Pallavas of Kanchi in the year 735 CE. The Mallikarjuna temple was built by her sister, also a Chalukyan queen.
The Virupaksha temple faces east towards the Malaprabha river. It has carvings depicting scenes from the puranas in each of the 18 pillars in the mukhamandapam. There are also carvings of Ravananugrahamurthy, Narasimha, Gajendramoksham, the dance of Shiva. The square vimana of this temple is in three levels. There is also an image of Lakulisa, showing the prevalence of the Pasupata sect of the Saiva religion in the Chalukyan land.
Jain Temple Half a Kilometer from the enclosure, on the Pattadakal-Badami Road, is this Jain temple built in the Dravidian style. It has some very beautiful sculpture & probably dates from the ninth century.
Sanghameswara Temple Perhaps the oldest temple in Pattadakal, it was built by King Vijayaditya ( 696-733 AD) & was called Vijayewara after him. Now called Sangameshwara, the temple is built in Dravidian style & consists of a sanctum, inner passage & a hall. There are sculptures on the outer wall like those of Ugranarasimha & Nataraja.
Kada Siddeshwara Temple This small temple, built in the North Indian style, consists of shrine & a hall. There is a fine sculpture which depicts Shiva holding a serpent & trident in his raised arms with Parvathi by his side.
A classical dance festival is held at Pattadakal, usually at the end of January every year. The Virupaksha Temple Car Festival is held in Pattadakal in March every year. The Mallikarjuna Temple Festival is also held in Pattadakal in March-April.
As Pattadakal is a small village, accommodation options are not available here. One is advised to find accommodation in the nearer places like Badami (22 Kms) or Bijapur (17Kms).
Best time to visit – October to February
Pattadakal does not have an airport of its own. The nearest airport is Bangalore, around 514 km away.
The nearest railway station is Badami, 22 km away. There are around five regular trains for Bijapur from Badami.