Pattadakal-Cradle of Architecture


Pattadakal is also named as Raktapura or Pattadakallu, is a 7th or 8th century complex Jain and Hindu temples in North Karnataka. This is located in the district of Bagalkote on the bank of the river Mallaprabha. This is a world heritage site of UNESCO. The distance from Badami is 23km (14 miles) and from Aihole the distance works out to be 9.7km (6miles). These are significant historically centers of the monuments of Chalukya. This is a protected site under the law and is now managed by the Archeological Survey of India.

Pattadakal has been described by UNESCO as a architectural forms that is blended in a harmonious manner, from the North to South of India. They have also termed this as an ‘illustration’ of eclectic art at the height. The Hindu temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva, but these also feature elements of Shaktism and Vaishnavism legends ad theology. Different Puranic and Vedic concepts are displayed in the Hindu temples. These also have depictions from the Bhagvad Purana, Mahabharata and the Ramayana along with different elements from Hindu texts, like the Kiratarjuniya and Panchatantra.

The Jain temple is dedicated to Jina only. Of all these Virupaksha and the Papanatha temples have the most complex friezes and the most sophisticated temples with the Northern and Southern fusion.

An active house of worship is the Virupksha temple.

The tributary to the river Krishna, Mallaprabha river, cuts across the mountain valleys and the plains. This is of great importance in the South India history. Kanakumbi is the origin of this river. This is in the district of Belagavi in the Western ghats. This flows towards the east. Before reaching Pattadakal, this flows from the south to the north. As per the tradition in Hinduism, a river flowing in the north direction is also termed as ‘Uttaravahini’.


Pattadakal was considered as a ‘holy’ place. This was due to being the place where the river Mallaprabha turns northwards towards Kailasha and Himalaya mountains. This was during the dynasty of the Chalukyas for coronations. The name implies the same. One example is in the 7th century CE, the Vinayaditya. This place was also known by the ‘valley of red soil’ or ‘Kisuvolal’, ‘city of red’ or ‘Raktapura’ and ‘red-soil valley for coronation’’ or ‘Pattada-Kisuvolal’. This has been mentioned in different texts by Srivjaya and is ‘Petrigal’ in geography.

Vaishnavites were the early rulers in the 5th-6th century of the Chalukyas. This is the community that prays to Lord Vishnu. These converted to Shivaites followers of Shivaism and pray to Lord Shiva). The temples in the complex and around it are dedicated to the Lord Shiva.

Pattadakl along with Aihole and Badami soon became cultural centers. This was for experimenting on different ideas and also for innovations in architecture. There was stability during the Gupta Empire rule in the 5th century. At this time, Aihole was the focus for scholarship. The architecture experimentation reached Badami in the following two centuries. Pattadakal was encompassed with the learning culture. This became a nexus in the 7th century where ideas from the North of India and the South of India fused. At this time, the Chalukyas constructed many temples in Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal.

The Rashtrakuta kingdom annexed this region after the Chalukya Empire fell. They ruled over in the 10th century. The Late Chalukyas ruled this region in the 11th and the 12th century. This was not a capital region and not even n proximity but many sources like texts, inscriptions and also thestyle of architecture indicate new Jain,Hindu and Buddhist monasteries and temples were built in this region of Pattadakal from the 9th to the 12th century. This is attributed to the population and the wealth by George Michell, a historian.

The whole of the 13th century, the Malaprabha valley, Paddakal and the near Deccan region was plundered and raided by the armies of the Delhi Sultanate. This devastated the whole region. The Vijayanagara Empire ended this period. Forts were constructed for protecting the monuments. This is given in the inscriptions of the Badami fort.

Pattadakal witnessed wars fought between Sultanates and Vijayanagara.  In the year 1565, the empire of Vijayanagara collapsed and Sultanate of Bijapur annexed Pattadakal. This was ruled by the dynasty of Adil Shahi.

The Mugal Empire led by Aurangzeb, in the 17th century, managed to gain control of Patadakal from the Sultanate. After which Pattadakal came under the Maratha Empire. Once again this changed hands when Tipu Sultan and Haider Ali lost it to the British in the 18th century.

The Pattadakal monuments are proof of the history and also the existence of the early northern and southern interaction. The temple art of Northern India is not very clear, according to T. Richard Burton. This was due to the fact that the region was sacked repeatedly by Central Asia invaders, more so by the Muslims from the 11th century. Surviving examples have been  reduced due to the warfare. The earliest examples surviving are of the 7th and the 8th century in Pattadakal.

Prehistoric Monuments

As per some findings by Prof. Ravi Korisettar, a pre-historian and archeologist, of National Institute of Advance studies, the artisans of the early Chalukyas were not first in building monuments. A few kilometers west of Pattadakallu, at Bachinnagudda, is a monument that is rough looking and is believed to date back to the Iron Age. That is approximately 1200BCE – 500BCE. This dolmen belongs to the structures termed as ‘megaliths’. These were erected all over South India during the Iron Age and the Early period.


The monuments of Pattadakal are located in Karnataka. These are about 103mi (165 kms) south of Belgaum. From Goa these are around 165 mi (265 kms) and from Badami these are 23km (14 miles). This is via SH14, the Karnataka State Highway. From Aihole, these are around 9.7km (6miles) set in the midst of mountains of sandstone and the river valley of Malaprabha. There are 150 Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monuments in total. The archeological discoveries date back from the 4th century to the 10th century CE.

Sambra Belgaum Airport is the nearest airport to Pattadakal. This is a 3 hour drive. There are flights to Bangalore, Mumbai and Chennai every day. You can also opt for Indian Railways that stop at the station in Badami.

Site Layout

Pattadakal has 10 major temples, nine of which are Hindu and one is Jain. There are a number of plinths and shrines. Out of these temples, eight are clustered and the ninth one is almost south of this cluster by half a kilometer. The tenth one, the Jain temple is around one kilometer west of this main cluster. A walkway connects the Hindu temples but you can access the Jain temple by road.


The monuments in Patadakal indicate two major styles of architecture fusion. One of the temples is from the north of India, Rekha-Nagara-Prasada, and one from the south, Dravida-Vimana. Four of these temples were built in the style of Chalukya Dravida, and four of these in the Nagara. The temple of Papanatha is supposedly a fusion of these two.

You find the nine temples on the banks of the river Malaprabha, dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Sangameshwara is the oldest of the temples, and was built during Vijayaditya Satyashraya’s reign between 697 and 733 CE. The Virupaksha temple is the largest and was built between 740 CE and 745 CE.

The Jain temple is the last temple built in this Group of Monuments and is known as the Jain Narayana Temple. This was built during Krishna II ‘s reign in the 9th century. The style is in accordance with the Kailasanatha temple in Kanchipuram.

Sandstone was used for building the temple structures as this is found in plenty in Pattadakkal. Granite is used for a few sculptures.

Kadasiddheshwara Temple

This small temple has been dated back to the 7th century mid by the Archeological Survey of India. This temple is built around a garbha griha that I square and faces east. Around the center of the sanctum there is a mantapa. Most of this temple is damaged or eroded. The Shikhara is styled in Rekhanagara (northern nagara) and has a projection sukanasa in the east.

Kadasiddheshwara Temple - Pattadakal

On the walls on the outside of the Kada Siddheshwara you find images of half Shiva and half Parvati (Ardhanarishivara), to the west you have half Shiva and half Vishnu (Harihara) and to the south you have Lakulisha.

Galaganatha Temple

To the east of the Jambulisngeshwara you find the Galagantha temple. This temple is, supposedly, from the 8th century according to the ASI (Archeological Survey of India).  This is made in the rekha-nagara style. This has a vestibule and a linga within the sanctum of the temple. Nandi is seated facing the temple.

The pradriskhana patha proves that this tradition was established in the 7th or the 8th century. There are a number of mandapas that were used for functions. There is also a mukha mantapa. You find only the foundation of this. The mantapa entrance is flanked by the river goddesses Yamuna and the Ganga.

Most of this temple is in ruins except the southern part that shows Shiva with eight-arms killing Andhaka, the demon, wearing a skull garland.

Jambulingeshwara Temple

The Jambulinga or the Jambulingeshwara temple is a small temple and supposedly belongs to the 7th or the early 8th century. This temple is constructed around a garbha griha that is square shaped. The outer walls of this temple have linteled niches with frames that are decorated with mythical makras and Hamsa. There are images of Vishnu inside these frames on the north. To the west you find Surya (The Sun God) and to the south you find Lakulisha. This temple has experimented with the sukanasa projections in the front from the shikara. Facing east, this temple greets the sunrise. The Nandi is on a platform but is in ruins at present. Nataraja, the dancing Shiva with Parvati, along with Nandi on the side is preserved on the frontal arch.

This temple is in the rekha-nagara style. The entrance of the mandapa has three shakhas as decorations. Each of these has the puranakumbhas.

Sangameshwara Temple

This temple is also known as the Vijayeshvara temple is in the Dravida style and is large. Located in the south of the Chandrashekhara temple, this temple faces the east and dates back to 720 – 733 CE. The temple was left unfinished as the patron king, Vijayaditya expired. In the later centuries the work carried on.

Sangameshwara Temple Pattadakal

This temple is not the largest but is of imposing proportions. The east of the square layout of this temple has the layout. The pradikshana patha covers the sanctum. There is a Shiva linga inside the temple and a vestibule flanked by small shrines on each side. These shrines have carvings of Durga and Lord Ganesha. You find a seated Nandi on the east of the hall and a mandapa with sixteen pillars set in fours.

Besides the above mentioned, you can also visit the Kashivishwanatha temple, Mallikarjuna temple, Virupaksha temple, Papanatha temple, Jai Narayana Temple and more.

Best Time to Visit

The climate here is pleasant like the rest of Karnataka. You can vist this place throughout the year. You have the monsoons starting from mid-April right up to mid-September. Winter works out to be the best season. This is from October to the month of March.

Places around Pattadakal

Off Pattadakal by 25km you have Aihole and also Badami is close. These are three major centers for different styles of architecture. As this was the regional capital of the Chalukyas, it covers a wide spectrum of different buildings of that specific era. These can be simple shrines to buildings considered as ‘complex’.

At Pattadakal a dance festival is held every year at the end of January. You also have the Car Festival in March every year at Pattadakal. In March-April you have the Mallikarjuna Teple Festival. For all those who want to enjoy these festivals, you can plan your visit to Pattadakal accordingly.