Monday, 28 January 2013

Pattadakal: Gallery of Chalukyan art and architecture

Pattadakal: Gallery of Chalukyan art and architecture

This Post is a part of the Chalukya Trail. Please Click here to read the main post
Overview: The Pattadakal Group of monuments near Badami is a UNESCO World heritage site. Located on the banks of the river Malaprabha in Bagalkote district, it highlights the architectural splendour of the Chalukyas. There are around 10 temples in the complex built in both Nagara style and Dravidian style and it is during this period when both styles were given final form. In the middle of the 7th century, the Chalukyas shifted their capital from Badami to Pattadakal. This was the place where several Chalukyan kings were crowned. The Mallikarjuna, Sangameshwara and the Virupaksha temple were built by the queens of Vikramaditya-II to commemorate his victory over the Pallavas of Kanchi in the 7th century. The Papanatha, Kashivishveshwara, Jambulinga and Galaganatha temple were built in North Indian style and can be compared to the Sun temple in Konark and other temples in North India like Varanasi and Gaya. Many temples were built at an experimental stage in this complex and upon more learning they graduated into building more perfect temples.
Pattadakal complex
The first temple we visited was the Kadasiddheshwara temple which was probably one of their experiments. It has a rectangular mantap and is built on a high platform.
 Kadasiddheshwara temple, Pattadakal
The next is the Jambulinga which is built in a similar fashion. It has a small rectangular tower. At the doorway we have the Nandi guarding the temple.
Jambulinga temple, Pattadakal
Next comes the Galaganatha temple, which dates back to 8th century with curivilinear shikhara. Its built in Nagara style of architecture with a slanting roof. The doors are well carved and has a dancing Shiva in the interiors.
Galaganatha temple, Pattadakal
Sangameshwara temple was started under the king Vijayaditya in the 7th century. Its built on a high base with carvings on animals and zodiac signs. The dwarfs are carved on the base of sabha mantapa are worth watching.
Sangameshwara temple, Pattadakal
Virupaksha temple was built by Lokadevi, Queen of Vikramaditya -II as mentioned earlier. It was built in the 7th century in Dravidian style of architecture and resembles the temples of Kanchipuram. The hall consists of 18 pillars with many stories on Ramayana, Mahabharata and Panchatantra carved on them. One pillar reveals that women in those days used to wear skirts and fancy bags as they do today. Also the Nandi bull and an elephant are shown in a single frame identified separately by covering a part of it. It has a typical Dravidian shikhara and gopuram. There is a giant pillar outside the temple with inscription explaining the victory of the king against the Tamil kings. One of the window carving is like a snake tangled itself artistically. The other window shows the Garuda as is the Karnataka state emblem. The temple leads the way to a huge Nandi inside a mantap and leads further to the banks of Mallaprabha river.
Virupaksha temple, Pattadakal KSRTC emblem Elephant and Nandi as seen individuallyDepicting women with skirts and fancy bags Name of the sculptor carved in old Kannada Carvings, PattadakalCarvings, Pattadakal Carvings, Pattadakal River Mallaprabha, Pattadakal
There is a big Victory Pillar with inscriptions explaining about the victory of the Chalukyas over the rulers of Kanchi.
Victory Pillar with inscriptions, Pattadakal
The next big temple is the Kashi Vishwanatha temple built in Nagara style and resembles the Sun temple of Konark, 0rissa. It is having a typical North Indian style gopuram and has intricate carvings.
Kashi Vishwanatha temple, Pattadakal
Jain temple: It is located on Badami-Pattadakal road built in Dravidian style by the Rashtrakutas in the 9th century. It has some beautiful sculptures carved on the walls.
The villagers in Pattadakal feel proud to be associated with the Chalukyan capital and when asked where they live, they reply saying that they live in the temple complex of the Chalukyas.
Jain Temple, Pattadakal Mallikarjuna and Kasivishveshwara temple, Pattadakal Pattadakal  Mallikarjuna temple, Pattadakal 
How to reach: The best option to travel is by rail from Bangalore. Train no 06535 Bijapur express on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and 16535 Gol Gumbaz express on other days leaves Yesvantpur at 19:45 and reached Badami the following day at 07:33. Return train departs from Badami at 20:00 and reaches Yesvantpur the following day at 09:15.
Many KSRTC buses are available from major cities in Karnataka to Badami. From Badami, either hire an taxi/auto or private bus to Pattadakal.
By Car: Around 500 kms from Bangalore, take the NH4 towards Tumkur, At Chitradurga, turn right towards NH13 to Hospet, from Hospet, travel towards Gadag on NH 63. From Gadag take the Badami road via Ron. From Cholachalgudda, turn right towards Pattadakal.
Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pattadakal
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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Badami: Marvel of Temple Architecture

Badami: Marvel of Temple Architecture

This Post is a part of the Chalukya Trail. Please Click here to read the main post
Overview: Badami, as the name indicates, has been derived from the dry fruit 'Badami' in Kannada meaning Almond. There goes a very interesting story behind it. Millions of years ago, the area was submerged under the sea. Over the years, due to the continuous transformation of the Earth's landmass, the water from the seas got shifted and still we can see the signs of marine life that once existed here. After a few centuries later, a massive volcanic activity took place due to which the sediments got deposited on the rocks giving it a dark red colour resembling the colour of Almond, hence the name Badami. Adding to this, all the structures in this town are red in colour.
Badami CliffsBadami Cliffs Badami Cliffs Badami Cliffs  Badami Cliffs
Badami, which was earlier called Vatapi, was the second capital of the Western Chalukya empire which flourished between early 6th century to 9th century. One can still feel the essence of the Chalukyas on visiting this ancient town.
We entered Badami at around 4pm in the evening after visiting the famous Banashankari temple belonging to the same era. The rocky canyons were already visible from a distance. Its always easier to explore the place if we hire guides at such places. So we hired one. Badami has a series of four rock-cut cave temples resembling the Ajanta and Ellora caves in Maharashtra.
The guide took us to the first cave, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. We were welcomed by a carved figure of dancing Shiva, which is called Nataraja. The carving is so elegant and depicts 81 combinations of the Bharath Natayam with 18 hands.
Badami Caves Nataraja, Badami
Then there is a carving showing 4 different positions of a baby, Sleeping, sitting, and then rolling over playfully, all shown in a small area with optimized carvings.
Different positions of a child
One more sculpture shows Lord Shiva as ardhanareeshwara, meaning half-woman. The portrait is flanked by Parvati at one end and Bhringi Maharishi on the other. This was the way of the Chalukyas of narrating the story of Bhringi who worshipped Lord Shiva but gave no importance to Goddess Parvati. Furious with this attitude, Parvati cursed him and turned him into a skeleton so that he could not even stand. Shiva provided him a third leg so that he can stand on it. This had no impact on Bhringi's devotion to Lord Shiva and continued worshipping him alone. Tired of this, Shiva transformed himself into the form of Ardhanareeshwara so that he could worship both Shiva and Parvati. Bhringi cleverly transformed himself into a bee and started circling only the male part of Lord Shiva(i.e only the right leg). Impressed by the true love and devotion to Lord Shiva, Bhringi was then granted freedom from all curses by Parvati.
The other side of the hall is the carving of the Harihareshwara, in which Hari means 'Vishnu' and Hara means 'Shiva'. The Chalukyas worshipped all Gods equally so they named it as Harihara, where Vishnu's name appears first, but while carving it, they kept Shiva on top so that there is no bias, flanked by women on both sides.
ArdhanaareeshwaraHarihareshwara, Badami
On top of a wall we could see carvings of Shiva and Parvati sitting on the vehicle, the Nandi bull, much similar to a boy and a girl sitting on a motorcycle.
Shiva&Parvati
Also there were many carvings on the ceilings of Adishesha and other Gods like Bala Ganesha trying to imitate his father's dancing. From a distance we could see a fort which indicated the range of the Badami Chalukyas. It had a secret passage which is very steep to climb and was used to keep an eye at the intruders. One could get a panoramic view of the historic town from the top of the fort.
        
We then proceeded to the Cave 2, dedicated to Vishnu. This cave also has similar carvings of Lord Vishnu in various avatars,  Also there are many deities depicted in the ceilings and the walls. One more interesting thing was the swastik, which normally we would write by raising the pen a couple of times. But it is carved here in such a way that there are four swastiks on each corner connected to each other and its difficult to identify the start and end point of the swastik.
Badami Cave 2Swastik
On the other end, we have the Narasimha avatar of Vishnu who slayed the demon Hiranyakashyap. Other avatars are also depicted like the Varaha avatar, saving Bhoodevi from the demon Hiranyaksha, the Matsya avatar and the Kurma avatar helping during Samudra manthan. Also we have Vamana & Vishnu swaroopa pushing Bali into Paataal Loka. On the walls we also saw relief of Kubera and Ashtadipalakas. There was this very creatively carved figure of 3 faced child with 4 hands and 4 legs being shared. The sculptor has cleverly shared the 3 faces and 4 hands in such a way that it looks like 2 hands for each face. The interpretation is also given next to it.
Badami Matsya avatar VarahaBadami Carvings
Between Cave2 and Cave 3, there is a natural cave without any carvings probably used by the Buddhists.
Natural Cave, Badami  
As we proceeded towards cave 3, we found gateway wall from where we can see the secret staircase leading to the top, built by Tipu Sultan. This staircase is now sealed as each stair is almost 1 feet which makes it very difficult to climb up and down.
Gateway to Badami Cave 3 Stairway built by Tipu Sultan Badami 
We then moved to cave 3, which is called the MahaVishnu cave, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This cave resembles a palace with Vishnu sitting on a snake called Ananthasina and looks like a darbar with the king taking note of the proceedings. This was probably the way of Chalukyas of telling the world how they used to rule..
Vishnu as a king
A striking difference between cave 2 and cave3 is the carving of Harihara which is flanked by women and his vehicle, here he is all alone with a smiling face.
Harihareshwara @ Badami
Another interesting carving was that of a statue that looked like a child from one end and Hanuman when viewed from another angle. Also we have a Nandi and an elephant carved out of a single statue.
Child from view 1Hanuman from view 2
The difference can be found by covering a part of the statue. One more interesting feature here are the paintings made out of organic paints. The paint is still visible even after 1400 years.
Organic paint used in Badami  Carvings@Badami    Depicting Nandi and an elephant

Cave 4 is dedicated to the Jain Teerthankaras dating back to 6th century. We can see Mahavira in a sitting posture and many Jain teerthankaras belonging to Shwetambara and Digambara sect are depicted on the walls.
Jain Teerthankaras
We have a striking view of the whole town from the top. The holy Agasthya teertha which is believed to have sacred water can be seen. It is said that the ruler Pulikesi-I was cured of his ailments by the holy waters of Agastya teertha which is filled by a waterfall formed during rains. The Bhootnath temples dedicated to Shiva are built on the banks of Agastya teertha. One is the old Bhoothnath temple which is built in the North India style with towers like temples in Varanasi, Gaya, and Orissa. The other Bhoothnath temple is built in Dravidian architecture like the ones in Kanchipuram and Tanjavur.
View of the ancient capital Vatapi Bhoothnath temple in Dravidian styleSun setting at Badami  Bhoothnath temple in North Indian style  Way to the top of the fort Shiva temple from a distance Bhoothnath temple, Badami Moonrise @ Badami Moonrise @ Badami
This place has to be experienced as it is the feeling of going over 1400 years back in history and its much more to be experienced than reading or viewing pictures. This is probably the best gift the Chalukyas have given to Karnataka.
Around Badami: Looking at the architectural beauty of Badami, one may think that its all over in Badami. But we have many more legacy left by the Chalukyas around Badami. Few of them are below:
Banashankari Amma temple: Originally built by the Chalukyas in the 7th century but later renovated by the Marathas, this is one of the main pilgrim centers in North Karnataka, just 5 kms from Badami. Ancient scriptures indicate that Goddess Shakambari which is an incarnation of Parvati, had come down and saved this region from the demons. The temple, initially built in Dravidian style, has been rebuilt in Vijayanagara style architecture.
Mahakuta: Just 14 kms from Badami, is the Mahakuta group of temples date back to the 5th century. One thing to be noticed here is most of the temple complexes have designs of both Dravidian and Nagara (North Indian) style. It has a large pond and several temples which has intricate carvings and inscriptions. The name is derived from the oldest temple in the complex, Makuteshwara temple. There is a Pushkarni as well in the temple in which there is a four faced Shivalinga.
Pattadakal: This place is around 12 kms from Badami and is a UNESCO World heritage site.  We have a group of temples which form a huge temple complex.
Aihole: Around 41 kms from Badami, this place was the first capital of the Chalukyas. With over 100 temples in this town, it is one of the places worth visiting in this circuit.
Banashankari temple Banashankari temple Banashankari temple Banashankari temple Mahakoota Mahakoota Mahakoota Pattadakal Aihole
How to reach: The best option to travel is by rail from Bangalore. Train no 06535 Bijapur express on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and 16535 Gol Gumbaz express on other days leaves Yesvantpur at 19:45 and reached Badami the following day at 07:33. Return train departs from Badami at 20:00 and reaches Yesvantpur the following day at 09:15.
Many KSRTC buses are available from major cities in Karnataka to Badami.
By Car: Around 500 kms from Bangalore, take the NH4 towards Tumkur, At Chitradurga, turn right towards NH13 to Hospet, from Hospet, travel towards Gadag on NH 63. From Gadag take the Badami road via Ron.
Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Badami
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banashankari_Amma_Temple
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahakuta_group_of_temples
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