India // Karnataka //


The village of PATTADAKAL, on a bend in the River Malaprabha 22km from Badami, served as the site of Chalukyan coronations between the seventh and eighth centuries; in fact it may only have been used for such ceremonials. Like Badami and Aihole, the area boasts fine Chalukyan architecture, with particularly large mature examples; as at Aihole, both northern and southern styles can be seen. Pattadakal’s main group of monuments  stand together in a well-maintained compound, next to the village, and have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Earliest among the temples, the Sangameshvara, also known as Shri Vijayeshvara (a reference to its builder, Vijayaditya Satyashraya; 696–733), shows typical southern features. To the south, both the Mallikarjuna and the enormous Virupaksha, side by side, are in the southern style, built by two sisters who were successively the queens of Vikramaditya II (733–46). Along with the Kanchipuram temple in Tamil Nadu, the Virupaksha was probably one of the largest and most elaborate in India at the time. Interior pillars are carved with scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, while in the Mallikarjuna the stories are from the life of Krishna.

The largest northern-style temple, the Papanatha, further south, was probably built after the Virupaksha in the eighth century. Outside walls feature reliefs (some of which, unusually, bear the sculptors’ autographs) from the Ramayana, including, on the south wall, Hanuman’s monkey army.

Pattadakal is connected by regular state buses and hourly private buses to Badami (45min) and Aihole (45min). Aside from a few teashops, cold drinks and coconut stalls, there are no facilities. For three days at the end of January, Pattadakal hosts an annual dance festival featuring dancers from across India.