UNESCO has described Pattadakal as "a harmonious blend of architectural forms from northern and southern India" and an illustration of "eclectic art" at its height.
Pattadakal, also called Raktapura, is a complex of 7th and 8th century CE Hindu and Jain temples in northern Karnataka (India). Located on the west bank of the Malaprabha River in Bagalakote district, this UNESCO World Heritage site is 14 miles (23 km) from Badami and about 6 miles (9.7 km) from Aihole, both of which are historically significant centres of Chalukya monuments.
There are ten temples at Pattadakal, nine Hindu and one Jain, along with numerous small shrines and plinths. Eight of the major temples are in one cluster, one about half a kilometer south of this cluster, and the tenth related to Jainism is located about a kilometer to the west of the main cluster. The Hindu temples are all connected by a walkway, while the Jain temple has road access.
The Pattadakal monuments reflect a fusion of two major Indian architectural styles, one from north India (Rekha-Nagara-Prasada) and the other from south India (Dravida-Vimana). Four temples were built in the Chalukya Dravida style, four in the Nagara style of Northern India, while the Papanatha temple is a fusion of the two. The nine Hindu temples are all dedicated to Shiva, and are on the banks of Malaprabha river. The oldest of these temples is Sangameshwara, which was built during the reign of Vijayaditya Satyashraya, between 697-733 AD. The largest of these temples in Pattadakal is the Virupaksha Temple, which was built between 740 and 745 AD.
The last temple built in the Group of Monuments is the Jain temple, known locally as the Jain Narayana temple, which was likely built in the 9th century during the reign of Krishna II of Rashtrakutas. Its style is patterned on the lines of the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram.
Kadasiddheshwara Temple: A relatively small temple, the Archaeological Survey of India has dated it to around the mid 7th century CE. The temple faces east and is built around a square garbha griha (sacrum sanctum). It houses a linga on a pitha, and the Nandi bull faces it from outside; there is a mandapa around the sacrum center in an expanded axial layout. Much of the temple has been eroded or was damaged in the following centuries.Mounted on a lintel at the sanctum entrance is Shiva and Parvati flanked by Brahma and Vishnu on either side. The steps at the sanctum entrance are bordered by the river goddesses Ganga and Yamuna, with attendants.
Jambulingeshwara Temple: Jambulingeshwara temple, also called the Jambulinga temple, is variously estimated by ASI to have been complete between mid 7th and early 8th century, respectively. The temple is built around a square garbha griha (sacrum sanctum), whose outer walls feature intricate devakoshtha (linteled niches with decorated frames with Hamsa and mythical makaras). Inside the frames are images of Vishnu on its north, Surya (Sun god) to its west and Lakulisha to the south.The temple also experiments with the idea of projecting sukanasa from the shikhara in front, over the mandapa. The temple still faces east, greeting the sunrise. The Nandi too is provided with a raised platform which is in ruins and the Nandi image shows signs of erosion.
Galaganatha Temple: The Galaganatha temple lies to the west of the Jambulingeshwara temple. ASI estimates this temple to date from the mid 8th century.The temple is a northern rekha-nagara style with a linga, and a vestibule (antarala) that has a facing Nandi, within the temple sanctum. The Galagatha temple is mostly in ruins, except for the southern part which contains a carved slab showing an eight-armed Shiva killing the demon Andhaka, while wearing a garland of skulls as a yajnopavita.
Chandrashekhara Temple: Chandrashekhara temple is a small east facing temple and on the south side of the Galaganatha temple. It lacks a tower. ASI dates it to mid 8th century. The temple has a garbha griha with a Shiva linga and a closed hall. A Nandi sits on an east platform facing the linga. There is a devakostha (niche) in wall on either side of the Chandrashekhara temple sanctum.
Sangameshwara Temple: Sangameshwara temple, also called the Vijayeshvara temple, is a large, Dravida style east facing temple and immediately on the south side of the Chandrashekhara temple. The temple is dated to between 720 CE and 733 CE based on inscription and other evidence.The inscriptions found in this and other temples mention sponsor names from different centuries, some of them Hindu queens, suggesting early medieval era women were actively supporting the temple architecture and arts. Its sanctum faces east for sunrise, housing a Shiva Linga. A Nandi faces the Linga sanctum to the east of the hall in front.
Kashiviswanatha Temple: This monument was constructed in the 8th century by the Rashtrakutas. The architectural style used in this temple is predominantly the Nagara style. This temple is famous for the several female figurines engraved on the walls. The monument is steeped in history, and the artistic perfection of the engravings make it a must visit destination in Pattadakal.
Mallikarjuna Temple: The Mallikarjuna temple was built right after the completion of the Virupaksha temple. The temple is in fact a miniature version of the Virupaksha temple. Both the temples share several architectural similarities. It was built by King Vikramaditya’s second queen Rani Trilokyamahadevi to celebrate the Chalukyan victory over the Pallavas. The temple contains several aspects of Dravidian architecture, including a 4 storied Vimana with a circular griva and shikara. The porch contains an exquisite image of Narasimha killing Hiranyakashipu which augments the beauty of this monument.
Papanatha Temple: This monument dates back to the 7th century and is built in the Vesara style of architecture. Construction was initially begun using Nagara techniques as a reference, but later the architects switched to using the Dravidian style. Thus the temple contains elements of both. The ceiling is adorned with remarkable figures of Shiva-Parvathi with the Gandharvas and Vishnu. Scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharatha have been depicted in several carvings all over the temple. The expertise of the artisans is evident in the beauty of the temple, and several art and history enthusiasts visit this monument every year.
Virupaksha Temple: The Virupaksha temple located to the immediate south of the Mallikarjuna temple is the largest and most sophisticated of the monuments at Pattadakal. It is called Shri Lokeshvara Mahasila Prasada in inscriptions, named after its sponsor Queen Lokmahadevi, and it is dated to about 740 CE. The Virupaksha temple faces east, has a square garbha griya (sanctum) with a Shiva Linga. Therein are Ganesha and Parvati in her Durga aspect as Mahishasuramardini killing the buffalo demon.
Jain Narayana Temple: The Jaina temple in the group of monuments at Pattadakal was built in the 9th century, possibly with sponsorship from the Rashtrakuta King Krishna II or the Kalyani Chalukyas. It lacks Hindu deities and intricate panels of the other nine. Instead, it has a statue of a Jina carved into the north side kapota eave. The mandapa has a row of lathe-turned sand stone pillars. The kakshasana are decorated with the figures of dancers, purna-ghata, nidhis, vyalas but some of the artwork is partially finished. The entrance feature carvings of life size elephant torso with riders.