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Temples of Karnataka


Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal near Bijapur in Karnataka are centers of Early Chalukyan art. Badami is located at a distance of about 500 km from Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka and is well connected by road

Aihole was the first capital of the early Chalukyas. Aihole is to the west of Badami, along the Malaprabha river, while Pattadakal is to the east. Pulakesi I, one of the greatest rulers of this dynasty, moved the capital to Badami nearby. Badami was then known as Vatapi.

The first phase of temple building in Aihole dates back to the 6th century CE, the second phase to the 12th century.

The Ravanaphadi temple is a rock cut temple, with a rectangular shrine, with two mandapams in front of it and a rock cut Shivalingam. This temple dates back to the second half of the 7th century.

The prominent temple groups here are the Kontigudi group and the Galaganatha group.

A group of three temples is referred to as the Kontigudi group of temples. One of these is the Lad Khan temple, named after a mendicant that lived in this temple in the 19th century , another the Huchiappayyagudi temple and the Huchiappayya math.

The Lad Khan temple consists of a shrine with two mandapams in front of it. The shrine bears a Shiva lingam. The mukha mandapa in front of the sanctum has a set of 12 carved pillars. The sabhamandapa in front of the mukha mandapam has pillars arranged in such a manner as to form two concentric squares. There are also stone grids on the wall carrying floral designs.

The Huchappayyagudi temple has a curvilinear tower (shikhara) over the sanctum (unlike the Lad Khan temple). The interior of the temple has beautiful carvings.

The Galaganatha group is one of nearly 30 temples on the bank of the river Malaprabha. The main shrine of the Galaganatha temple enshrining Shiva - Galaganatha has a curvilinear shikhara, and has images of Ganga and Yamuna at the entrance to ths shrine.

The Huchimalligudi temple at Aihole, built in the 8th century shows an evolution in the temple plan, as it shows an ardhamandapam or an ante-chamber annexed to the main shrine.

The best known of the Aihole temples is the photogenic Durga or the fortress temple. It is apsidal in plan, along the lines of a Buddhist chaitya, a high moulded adisthana and a tower - curvilinear shikhara. A pillared corridor runs around the temple, enveloping the shrine, the mukhamandapa and the sabhamandapa. All through the temple, there are beautiful carvings.

The Meguti Jain temple stands on a hillock. The temple sits on a raised platform, and a flight of steps leads one to the mukhamandapa. The pillared mukhamandapa is a large one. A flight of stairs leads to another shrine on the roof, directly above the main shrine. From the roof, one can have a panoramic view of the plain with a hundred temples or so.

From a historic standpoint, the Meguti temple has an inscription on its foundation stating that it was built in the year 634 CE. This inscription also contains a reference to the poet Kalidasa.