Now quiet villages, Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal, the last a UNESCO World Heritage Site, were once the capital cities of the Chalukyas, who ruled much of the Deccan between the fourth and eighth centuries. The astonishing profusion of temples in the area beggars belief. Badami’s and Aihole’s cave temples, stylistically related to those at Ellora, are some of the most important of their type. Among the many freestanding temples are some of the earliest in India, and at Pattadakal, uniquely, it is possible to see both northern (nagara) and southern (Dravida) architectural styles side by side, besides the vesara, a fusion of the two.

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