Pattadakal Temple: Dravidian and Nagara style under one roof!

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Last Updated on January 10, 2022 by asoulwindow

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Information about Pattadakal

Pattadakal is an offbeat temple village tucked away in a remote corner. Unlike the well managed Hampi, temples of Belur and Halebidu, Pattadakal monuments doesn’t get as much tourist traffic. In fact, I was the only one when I visited group of monuments at Pattadakalearly morning. Some tourists started coming after an hour or so.

I was wondering which God is Pattadakal? Well, a majority of places to visit in Pattadakal are devoted to Shiv Bhagwan.

This is why I saw many Shivling and Nandi statue in most of the temples. Virupaksha temple Pattadakal is the most famous and elaborate temple located here. This comprehensive travel blog is based on my personal experience of Pattadakal sightseeing.

The group of monuments in Pattadakal are also a world heritage site. I hope that the offbeat and underrated Pattadakal tourism gets the boost it deserves after people read my blog. Before we discuss the top places to see in Pattadakal, let us know a little about this temple town first.

Where is Pattadakal Located?

Pattadakal monumentsare locatedin an ancient temple village in the Bagalkot district in the South Indian state Karnataka. Pattadakal is located at close proximity to the temples of Badami and Aihole as well.

However, Badami Aihole and Pattadakal are not located at walking distance from each other. Aihole, Badami cave temples, and Pattadakal are all situated on the banks of Malaprabha River.

I had to take several buses to commute between the heritage sites of Pattadakal, Aihole and Badami, all of them in Karnataka. The temple architecture at these places is breath-taking and some of the best in India. No wonder, UNESCO took notice.

Why is Pattadakal world famous?

Here is all you wanted to know about Pattadakal. Pattadakal temple art is world famous! Pattadakal is famous because it is one of those rare places in Southern India where you see ancient Hindu temples in North Indian Nagara and South Indian Dravidian style located next to each other.

This is the place if you want to see the best of South India and North India in a span of 2-3 hours. No wonder, it is one of the best world heritage sites of the world!

What are Aihole Badami and Pattadakal famous for? This heritage triangle is known for awe inspiring rock cut temples, ancient inscriptions and monolithic structures from ancient times.

I saw that Hindu temples were built in both Nagara and Dravidian style in Mahakuta group of temples as well. Mahakuta is located in Badami. Do read my detailed blog post on Badami.

Despite the fame, Pattadakal is one of the most unusual places to see in Karnataka.

Soul Window Thoughts

It is the beauty of ancient Sanatan Dharm that our ancestors were able to create such magical edifices when much of the world was struggling to learn to live!

Pattadakal Nomenclature

Besides worship, these ancient temples served as Pattavishekham or coronation ceremony of new rulers of the land. This is also the reason why Pattadakal is called so.

Pattadakal is also known as Paṭṭadakallu or Raktapura. Rakta means blood in Hindi and ancient language Sanskrit. Due to the blood red soil found here, it was addressed as land of blood or Raktapura.

Is Pattadakal a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

This is a commonly asked question about Pattadakal. Yes, the group of temples at Pattadakal were declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 1987. This also means that the Government has more fund to maintain this ancient historical site of Karnataka.

Well-manicured garden, cleanliness, organised ticket counters, nice toilets were a tell-tale sign of its brilliant maintenance. All the Pattadakal group of monuments are located very close to each other.

History of Pattadakal monuments 

Pattadakal India has an interesting past. The monuments of Pattadkal as well as Aihole and Badami are associated with the early Chalukyan dynasty (6th to 8th century C.E.) This was also the time when Chalukyas were at their peak. Badami was the capital in those times.

Pattadakal was the cultural epicenter of the mighty Chalukyan Empire. It will not be an overstatement to call Pattadakal as the cultural capital of the Chalukyas Kings.

The scattered temples at Aihole were more of an architectural workshop in those times. The Chalukya used to govern from Badami. When I visited temple at Pattadakal, I was able to connect the dots.

Islamic Attacks on Pattadakal

Who destroyed Pattadakal temples? How can we talk about ancient Hindu temple and not mention Islamic attacks? It was so common for Muslims to ruin Hindu temples, burn it and often build mosques on it. I wish that was not the case. Modern Hindus would have had a better understanding of their roots and past.

The Rashtrakuta dynasty, which were also Hindus continued to contribute in the betterment of the temple culture. However, as is common in the medieval history, the barbaric Islamic invasions followed.

Muslim invaders from the Adil Shahi dynasty made several attacks and Pattadakal saw its downfall. I observed that luckily not much damage has been caused to the temples barring a headless Nandi idol and broken pillar.

Now you know who destroyed Pattadakal temples? Are you even surprised? It is our fortune that Pattadakal survived the test of time despite the exploitative and damaging rule of the Islamic invader Tipu Sultan and the British East India company. I wonder how temple at Pattadakal looked like if there were no Muslim attacks.

Soul Window Thoughts

I often think how different it would have been had there been no Europeans and Islamic attacks on India. Do read my detailed blogs on destroyed temples such as Martand Temple, Avanti Swamin temple in Srinagar, Kashmir. The Islamic fanatics in medieval India used to mercilessly destroyed Hindu idols and temples such as Sri Jagannath temple in Puri, Odisha.

I have also written about the plunder and destruction of the Vishnu Temple in Srirangam in Tamilnadu and, Varanasi and Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh and Nalanda University in Bihar in North India.

Do read these information packed travel blogs to understand the scale of ethnic cleansing, religious conversions and destruction that was the norm in those days.

Who are Chalukyas?

The powerful Chalukyas ruled for centuries in central India and South of India. Classical dances, music, art and craft flourished under their rule. Between 5th and 12th century C.E., the Chalukya dynasty reigned and prospered. The Chalukyas, though divided into three related segments, ruled as an individual force. To make things clearer for you, the 3 types of Chalukyas are as under:

  • Badami Chalukyas: These are the Chalukyas we are talking about in this travel guide. They were the earliest of Chalukyas and ruled from Badami which was then known as Vatapi. Their reign started from mid-6th century C.E. They are also known as Chalukyas of Badami.
  • Eastern Chalukyas: They ruled from Vengi in ancient Andhra Pradesh till as late as 11th century C.E. After the demise of Pulakeshin II, the Eastern Chalukyas rose to prominence in the eastern Deccan region. This is when they started to rule independently. They are also known as Chalukyas of Vengi.
  • Western Chalukyas: They ruled from the present day Basavakalyan in Bidar, Karnataka. It was known as Kalyani in those times. Their reign lasted until 12th century C.E. The Rashtrakutas who rose rapidly in mid-8th century and posed a threat to the Badami Chalukyas until Western Chalukyas intervened in the 10th century. They are also known as Chalukyas of Kalyani.

When was Pattadakal group of temples built?

The group of temples at Pattadakal are 1300 years old. The Hindu and Jain temples of Paṭṭadakallu are from 7th and 8th century C.E. In my opinion, the temple at Pattadakal is timeless.

Who built Pattadakal set of temples?

Many people ask, “Who built Pattadakal temples?” Pattadakal set of temples were commissioned by the earlier rulers of the great Chalukya dynasty. The mighty Badami Chalukyas had an ambitious plan to construct a number of Hindu temples in various architectural styles within the same complex. I had not seen anything like this before. Especially not in the middle of nowhere!

Architecture of group of monuments at Pattadakal 

Visit Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal if you want to study and understand the evolution of temple art in ancient India.

Pattadakal group of temples have varying architectural styles. The sculptors in those times made Aihole and Badami their base to practise, experiment and hone the temple making skills. The rock cut Badami caves are world famous.

It was in Pattadakal where the Chalukyas created their masterpieces, the final outcome of their years of practise.

This is also why temples at Pattadakal look flawless and most elaborate temples ever built by Chalukyas. If you want to see the mature work of Chalukya architecture, then you must visit Pattadakal.

Soul Window Facts

Many people are confused if Pattadakal and Hampi are same? Well, they are not. Both Pattadakal and Hampi are located away from each other. Both of them are in Karnataka though.

To my uneducated eyes, the temples of Aihole seemed just as perfect as the temples of Badami and Pattadakal or even Hampi, Belur and Halebeedu for that matter.

Two major architectural styles seen at Pattadakal India are:

  • Dravidian style of architecture: The South Indian style
  • Nagara style of architecture: The North Indian style. It is said that the Nagara style temples here has been inspired from the world famous Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneshwar in Odisha.

There are a total of 10 temples located in Pattadakal. 9 of these are Hindu temples and 1 is a Jain temple. Out of all the temples located here, 4 are built in traditional nagara style while other 4 are constructed in typical Dravidian style. Papanatha temple is built as a fusion of both Nagara and Dravidian style. Needless to say, Jain temple differs with all the architectural styles visible here.

As I admired the Dravidian style Shikhara or the temple tower of Virupaksha temple, I also noticed temple built in Nagara architectural style juxtaposed nearby. It helped me compare between the two prominent architectural styles.

Dravidian: South Indian Style Temples

So, what to see in Pattadakal? Below are the details of South Indian Temples of Pattadakal built in typical Dravidian architectural style. This guide will help you differentiate between the two different temple architectural styles of India. These are also the best places to see in Pattadakal India.

Places to see in Pattadakal Karnataka

Most of the places to visit in Pattadakal temple complex are located to each other. Below are some of the major attractions of Pattadakal.

You must visit these tourist spots with friends, family and kids.

Virupaksha Temple of Pattadakal

Virupaksha Temple of Pattadakal is not same as the equally brilliant Virupaksha Temple of Hampi, also in Karnataka. Representative of an early Chalukyan Dravidian style of temple, Virupaksha Temple of Pattadakal is the most popular of all the temples of Pattadakal group of monuments.

Whether it is the tall Vimana or Huge statue of Nandi ji, minutely carved sculptures or the jaw dropping architecture, the Virupaksha Temple of Pattadakal stands out for several reason.

Most notable are the episodes of Krishnacharita, Ramayana and Mahabharat inside the main hall of this Shiva temple. Such is the aura of this Hindu shrine that I wrote a separate blog on the Virupaksha Temple of Pattadakal. You must read my detailed blog on Virupaksha Temple of Pattadakal.

My travel blog A Soul Window has won many awards and also mentioned as Top Travel Blog of India and No.1 travel blog of India several times.

Mallikarjuna Temple of Pattadakal

Indian women have always enjoyed power and decision making whether new or old India. Queen Triloka Mahadevi is credited with the commissioning of Mallikarjuna Temple of Pattadakal. Inscriptions found here indicate the same. Trailokamahadevi was the sister of Lokamahadevi and the younger queen of Vikramaditya II.

It is often also addressed as Trilokeshwara Temple or Trailokyesvara Temple after her. It is located next to Sangameshwara Mandir. It is a Dravidian style temple.

It is another famous temple of this complex known for its similarity with the nearby larger Virupaksha Temple of Pattadakal. Both the temples follow similar architectural styles and plan. They just differ in scale.

Nandi ji here is located inside a closed mandapa. The partially ruined Nandi Mandapa of Mallikarjuna Temple is highly decorated and differs in details from the Nandi Mantapa of Virupaksha Temple Pattadakal.

The devotees can enter its pillared hall via any of the 3 sides accessed through porches and a sanctuary with ambulatory. The windows located here are different from each other.

What makes Mallikarjuna Temple different from Virupaksha Temple of Pattadakal is difference in the elevation of Vimana which is a 3 storeyed tower, capped by a circular Shikhara with Stupi or pot finial over it.

Some notable sculptures here include themes from Shaivism and Vaishnavism such as Gajendramoksha and Natesha on the exterior walls.

Do not miss the beautiful carving of Samudra Manthan and Mahisasuramardini here. You can also see floral patterns, scenes from ancient Hindu epics such as Mahabharat and Ramayan, Krishnacharita, Panchtantra and puranas depicted on the tall pillars inside this temple.

There is a circumambulatory path around the Linga which is located in the Mukhamandapa.

There are two more temples here devoted to Durga ji and Ganesh ji. However, the idols have been lost to time. Or maybe plunder! I sit on the floor of Sabhamandapa, ruminating how glorious these ancient temples must have been in their original form.

Sangameshwara Temple of Pattadakal

This Dravidian style, east facing temple is a must-see place in Pattadakal. Sangameshwara Temple was constructed much before Virupaksha Temple of Pattadakal even existed. Built by King Vijayaditya (696-733 C.E.)  in early 8th century C.E., this is also a sacred Shiva temple.

Its deity in Linga form was Vijayesvara. Needless to say, it was named so after the Chalukya King Vijayaditya. As per the historians and archaeologists, Sangameshwara Temple of Pattadakal is the earliest stone temples which the Chalukyas had built in Pattadakal.

Some of the prominent Dravidian features identified here are walls with pilasters, basement mouldings, temple tower and parapet.  

Sangameshwara temple Pattadakal is an unfinished temple. I noticed that many of the sculptures in the wall niches remained incomplete. After King Vijayaditya passed away, the further construction of this temple stopped abruptly. To my uneducated eyes, however, it still looked complete. We know from ancient inscriptions found in the temple that it was built in 720 C.E. The temple was perhaps consecrated hurriedly much before the completion of the main hall.

This also makes it the oldest temple in Pattadakal. I wonder why they couldn’t complete its construction when the temple making activity was still going on in later years.

The sanctum sanctorum of this temple faces East direction. I also noticed smaller temples devoted to Mahishamardini or Maa Durga (north) and Ganesh bhagwan (south) here. A pillared hall and a garbhagriha with an ambulatory passageway aka Pradakshina patha are present here. It is possible that in those times devotees used to enter the temple from 3 different sides.

I walked around the temple and noticed images of Shiv ji and various Avatar of Vishnu ji. Some of the striking features of this temple include the jaali work done on windows and ornamental friezes since it is constructed on a high plinth. There are ornamental floral designs on the walls as well.

The multiple pillars in the hall leads one to the main temple. It is incredible that those pillars still stand strong even after 1300 years. Did you know that some of the pillars located here were donated by local temple dancers such as Chalabbe and other patrons?

As per the ASI signboard,

“The inscribed stone slab in the hall dates from 1163 C.E. and refers to the Kalyana Chalukya King Taila III and his subordinate Chavundaraya of Sinda family. It registers a gift of land to the God Vijayesvara, made over to the temple’s Agharya Suryabharana Panditadeva.

Chandrashekhara Temple of Pattadakal

It is the most austere of all the temples in Pattadakal. Built around 750 C.E., Chandrashekhara Temple of Pattadakal has a closed mandapa and small and receding Garbhagriha. A Shivlinga perched on a pedestal is located inside the sanctum sanctorum.

Unfortunately, the Shikhara of this temple was nowhere to be seen. I suspect it to be a work of Islamic invaders. A mutilated idol of Nandi ji reaffirms my doubt. The Nandi idol is located on a square platform right in front of the mandapa.

Pilasters at regular frequency adorn the outer walls of this temple. The doorframe of this mandapa is embellished with shakhas. The doorframe of the Garbhagriha, on the other hand, is ornamented with shakhas and dwarpalas aka temple guards. Chandrashekhara Temple is located next to the Galaganatha Mandir.

Nagara: North Indian Style Temples

Below are the details of North Indian Temples of Pattadakal built in Nagara architectural style. These are also the best places to visit in Pattadakal. This handy travel guide will help you identify key differences between the two prominent ancient Indian architectural styles.

Kashi Vishwanatha Temple of Pattadakal

Of all the group of monuments at Pattadakal, the east facing Kashi Vishwanatha Temple of Pattadakal is an important one. Kashi Vishwanatha Temple of Pattadakal must not be confused with Kashi Vishwanatha Temple of Varanasi which is also an important Jyotirling and located in my home state Uttar Pradesh in North India.

Needless to say, this highly ornate Shiva temple is also built in the North Indian Nagara style. It was built somewhere between 8th or 9th century C.E. Whether it is the design, or conception or the final execution of the temple, it stands testimony to the great advancement over the larger Nagara style temples built by the Chalukyas.

I am sure it must have been a great accomplishment to construct this temple. This compact temple is the most refined example of Nagara style architecture here after all. Indian temple architecture has few parallels in the world.

Kashi Vishwanatha Temple of Pattadakal is divided into Sabha Mandapa, Mukhamandapa and Garbhagriha. It has a transverse rectangle shaped hall, a small vestibule and a square garbha griha.

The sanctuary comprises of a high basement which is divided into projections with typical Nagara style mouldings. The wall over it is raised corresponding to the projections. The corner and central projections consist of niches with Nagara pediments. Unfortunately, its porch is lost to time.

The upper portion of the wall consists of a band of Kirtimukhas which are linked to one another by beaded garlands emerging from their mouths. The curvilinear towers are embellished with interlaced gavakshas or horseshoe shaped blind windows.

The kalasha as well as the amalaka which once must have crowned the tower have also been lost now. The decorations of the walls of the hall are similar to that of the sanctuary. I craned my neck to admire carvings on Shiv Bhagwan and his family on the ceiling of the temple.

The main hall of this temple is ornate and boasts of well carved pillars, beams, brackets and architrave.

Some of the other salient features of Kashi Vishwanatha Temple of Pattadakal are the carvings of flying celestial beings, animals like lion and elephants and birds. Scenes from Ramayan and Shiv Puran can also be seen on the pillars of this temple.

The cubical blocks on the pillars are beautifully carved with wedding of Maa Parvati, exploits of Shree Krishna, demon King Ravan lifting the holy Kailash Parbat,Tripurantaka Shiva, Lingodbhava,Gangavatarana, Andhakasamhara, Gajasurasamhara etc.

You can also seea sculptureof 8 armed Nataraja, the dancing form of Shiv ji on the front of the Sukhanasa projection. The Sukhanasa has gavaksha lace work.  Also watch out for images of Trivikrama (East), Ardhanari and Lakulisha (North).

Keep your eyes peeled for more carvings on the walls and ceilings of this temple. This Pattadakal temple is a must visit!

Kadasiddheshwara temple of Pattadakal

Kadasiddheshwara temple, which faces East direction, is one of the first temples when I entered the temple complex of Pattadakal India. Built in North Indian Nagara style, the prominent features of this temple include a window fashioned like the sacred Swastika Symbol, sculpture of Harihara (west) Lakulisa (south) and Half Shiv ji and half Parvati ji called Ardhanarishvara (north).

The images of Shiv ji and Parvati ji on the doorframe is flanked by Brahma ji and Vishnu ji. The window with Swastika symbol is original. This square shaped Shiv Temple has a pious Linga inside the sanctum. The garbhagriha here has no pillars.

Unfortunately, I also noticed a defaced sculpture of Parvati ji and Shiv ji on the either side of the main door. The Shikhara of the temple was missing as well. Was it destroyed by the iconoclast Islamic invaders as is still common today? Bamiyan anyone?

The elaborate carvings on the external temple wall facing different cardinal directions are worth a dekko. This temple at Pattadakal is a must see.

Jambulingeshwara temple of Pattadakal

Also known as simply Jambulinga Mandir, this east facing shrine is built in Nagara style. It has a curvilinear superstructure. This square shaped temple has a pillar less Garbhagriha.  The platform where Nandi ji sits faces the temple.

I looked closely and could see various carvings of Dancing Nataraja, Vishnu Bhagwan, Shiv ji, Parvati Maa, Nandi ji and Surya Bhagwan. Different species of avian life is depicted on the plinth of this 8th century temple.

Carvings of Vishnu ji (north), Harihara (west) and axe bearing Lakulisha (south) can also be seen on the wall niches. Sculpture of Nataraja with gavaksha can be seen on the east face of the tower. It is one of the top places to visit in Pattadakal.

Also spelt as Jambhulingeshwara Mandir, it is located near Kada Siddeshwara Temple. A typical Hindu Kalash can easily be seen here. However, I was unable to see any idol of Nandi bull facing the Shivlinga. Even the Shikhara was missing. It was perhaps damaged by barbaric Islamic invaders. ‘Atyachari’, as a local said.

As per the ASI signboard:

“Its basement has a course of triple band moulding, while the wall has thin pilaster reliefs. On the cornice runs a course of vyalamala. Each face of the curvilinear tower has a central course of cornices raised diminutively. Each of the layer is curved with a central gavaksha aka horseshoe shaped blind window, flanked by split gavakshas.

At the corners of the tower are square cushion shaped karnaamalakas at regular intervals, 3 at each corner.”

Galaganatha Temple of Pattadakal

Another Shiva Temple, Galaganatha Templeis constructed in the Nagara style in the early 8th century C.E. What is interesting is that scenes from Panchtantra are depicted in the friezes of this partially dilapidated building. It is one of the top places to see in Pattadakal.

Panchtantra is an ancient Indian animal fable, the oral history of which can be traced back to 200 B.C.E. to 300 C.E. I have grown up reading the tales from Panchtantra. There is also a covered circumbulatory path here where Hindu devotees perform parikrama around the main presiding deity. Parikrama is also common in Buddhism. I saw many Hindus, Bon people and Buddhists performing parikrama of Kailash Parbat in Tibet.

I did a parikrama on the Pradakshina marg around the garbhagriha, much like people in those days would have done. Sadly, not much is left of the temple now barring a few carvings. Exploring the Mukhamandapa and the Sabhamandapa of Galaganatha Temple, I gasped at the genius of the ancient Hindus.

Square cushion shaped amalakas are carved at regular intervals at the corners of the temple. The Shikhara or temple tower is capped with a large amalaka (a ribbed circular cushion and surmounting kalash or pot finial.

Worth mentioning is a huge and impressive life size carving of Shiva Bhagwan piercing the asura Andhaka. It is located within the only surviving windowed porch in the south direction. You can also see Ghata Pallavas or vase and foliage on the bottom and top of pillar shafts of the porch. The sharp cut features on the curvilinear tower are worth appreciating.

It is said that Galaganatha Temple is similar to the Chalukya temples in Alampur, which lies in what is now Telangana. Tall jaali windows located on either side of this sculpture enhances its beauty.  The main hall of this temple is lost to time. There are windowed porches on the 3 sides of the temple.

The figures of River Godesses Ganga Maa and Yamuna ji can also be seen here. Sculpture of Nataraja is present on the lintel. Over the architrave, a partially preserved shukanasa projection is observed. Centrally rising layers of gavakshas (small horseshoe shaped recesses) houses human faces, flanked by half gavaksha.

Blend of Nagara and Dravidian style

How can we discuss Pattadakal group of monuments and not talk about the aberrations or the unique temple?

Papanatha temple of Pattadakal

This temple at Pattadakal stands out. This is an interesting temple as it borrows elements from both Nagara as well as Dravidian architectural styles.

Yes, Papanatha Temple is a blend of the architectural styles of South and North India. It was constructed in mid-8th century when the early Chalukya rule was on its decline.

Located slightly away from other group of temples, it is possible that the fusion occurred because the temple was built over a period in phases. However, historians and archaeologists have not been able to substantiate this with any proofs.

Parapets, carvings and the portion around garbhagriha has Dravidian style whereas the Shikhara, pilastered niches and roof is built in the Nagara style. The ceiling of the temple has carvings of Vishnu ji and Nataraja – dancing form of Shiv ji.

An idol of Nandi ji sitting in a sabha mandapa faces the Shivling. Do not miss the carving of reclining Vishnu ji in Anantasayana pose.

Most of the temples of Pattadakal face the auspicious East direction. Papanatha temple is no exception. Other noticeable features of Papanatha Mandir are an image of Durga ji, themes of both Vaishnavism and Shaivism, episodes from Kiratarjuniya and the Hindu epic Ramayan, images of musicians and musical instruments, images of couples in relationship.

One of its mantapas has just 4 pillars while another mantapa has 16 pillars. Needless to say, both the mantapas are interconnected with each other. It is located half kms away from Virupaksha Mandir.

Jain Narayana Temple of Pattadakal

You will be surprised to know that this temple was not commissioned by the Chalukya emperors. But that is not the only factor that sets it apart. Other than the Hindu temples in Nagara and Dravidian architectural style, this Jain temple is also located here, indicating the coexistence of Jainism and Hinduism. It is one of the offbeat places to visit in Pattadakal. 

Jain Narayana Temple is simpler in architecture when compared to Hindu temples. It is still one of the best places to see in Pattadakal. Built by the Rashtrakutas in the 9th century C.E., the Jain Narayan Temple houses an idol of Tirthankara. This Pattadakal temple is an offbeat place to visit.

Soul Window Observations

I have visited many Jain temples in Karnataka, the most important of which is the massive monolithic statue of Bahubali at Shravanbelagola. On Chandragiri, the hill opposite Shravanbelagola, Chandra Gupta Maurya, the powerful Mauryan emperor and the father of Ashoka the great converted to Jainism. He had spent his last days here. 

Also read: Do read my detailed travel guide on Avanti Swami temple of Kashmir

Monolithic Pillar

It is one of the most important places to visit in Pattadakal. This tall octagonal pillar is located near Mallikarjuna Temple. Much of what we know about Pattadakal is through ancient Sanskrit inscriptions discovered on this partially broken plinth. Carved in the ancient Siddhamatrika (a branch of Brahmi script) and Kannada Tamil script prevalent in the 8th century, it sings peans in the glory of Shiv ji and Haragauri. It also elucidates the achievements of King Vikramaditya and King Vijayaditya from the powerful Chalukya dynasty.

It further mentions about their rule, wars fought and won by them, grants and the Hindu temples constructed by them. I saw similar ancient Kannada inscriptions on the floor of Lepakshi Temple in Andhra Pradesh.

The monolithic pillar of Pattadakal also talks about installing a Trishula pillar by Jananasivacharya. He had come all the way from Mrigathanikahara-Vishaya on the northern banks of River Ganga. He stayed in the Vijayeswara temple or the present day Sangameswara temple.

The ancient inscription clarifies about the location of the pillar and also the fact that King Vijayaditya had built the Vijayeswara temple. It further informs that the Lokesvara temple or the present day Virupaksha temple Pattadakal was built by Queen Lokamahadevi, wife of Vikramaditya II.

We also know from the inscriptions on pillar that Trailoky Esvara Temple or modern Mallikarjuna mandir was constructed by Trailokya Mahadevi. King Kirtivarma II was his son. It further elucidates that Jnanasivacharya made a grant of land near Arapunase village as provision for discourses and worship in the Vijayesvara temple. The ruler then was Kirttivarma II (744-757 C.E.)

Other monuments and inscriptions of Pattadakal

There are many small shrines, pillars and ruins that punctuate the campus of Pattadakal. Worth mentioning are some unfinished structures, damaged places, umpteen carvings, erotic sculptures and a major decapitated Nandi statue.  Pattadakal group of monuments are indeed a world class destination.

Pattadakal dance festival 

This annual festival which is organised by the Government of Karnataka is a must do thing in Pattadakal. The 3 days long Pattadakal dance festival is a visual delight. It is quite an experience to see ancient classical Indian dance forms such as Kathakali, Bharatnatyam, Yakshagana and Kuchipudi etc.

The temples of Pattadakal serve as the stage for dances. This is how it must have been like in ancient days when devadasis used to dance here!  

Pattadakal dance festival is also an opportunity to see famous and celebrity classical dancers perform live. The local artists also sell handicrafts in the Craft Mela.

Pattadakal dance festival is the best time to be in Pattadakal! Pattadakal dance festival takes places in winters, mostly in the month of January. Group of monuments in Pattadakal come alive during this annual festival.

Vegetarian and vegan food in Pattadakal Karnataka

Do not expect restaurants here. Road side dhabas are available and the taste of their food is no less than what a restaurant offers. You can also ask around if you want to try the local food of Uttara Kannada. If you are lucky, you will end up enjoying hot Jolada Rotti or Jowar Roti, Enngai palya or Brinjal curry, Moong curry, Soppina palya & Kaalu palya or curry of green leafy vegetables and horse gram curry, junka made with besan etc.

I had delicious vegan Upma with namkeen topped on it and piping hot vegan bhajiyas (fritters)

ATM in Pattadakal

Be warned that there are no ATMs near Pattadakal group of monuments. You can withdraw money from Badami but it is still a good idea to carry some cash from the city you are traveling from such as Bengaluru and Mysuru. Luckily, digital payment is accepted at the ticket window of Pattadakal despite the remoteness.

Souvenirs Shopping Guide to Pattadakal

There are no souvenir shops near Pattadakal. You can perhaps buy some books by ASI on Pattadakal and other historical places of India.

Excursions: Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal circuit

All the major places of interest near Pattadakal are located very close to each other.

I had visited group of monuments at Pattadakal, Badami and Aihole in a single weekend trip from Bangalore in Karnataka. The incredible number of temples found in these sites together are known as Golden Triangle of the Chalukyan Kingdom.

As I immersed myself in this centuries old architectural marvels, I couldn’t help but visualise the art, culture and politics that prevailed in those times. Badami has more elaborate carvings. Aihole is home to perfect examples of different architectural styles.

Pattadakal, Aihole, Badami itinerary

I should have visited Pattadakal after Aihole and Badami. This would have helped me understand how temple art progressed in ancient India. I had visited Pattadakal first followed by Aihole and lastly Badami. The ideal route is Aihole- Badami-Pattadakal. Temple at Aihole were built in 5th and 6th century. So now you know why it is important to visit Aihole first.

Places to see near Pattadakal: Another route

You can also plan Hampi-Belur-Halebid-Shravanbelagola-Pattadakal-Aihole-Badami at one go. You can just hire a taxi or self-drive. If you are a budget solo traveller then you can easily visit all this places on a shoestring by hopping on and off from sleeper class trains and buses. Hampi is huge and the ruins here are spread across a larger expanse. Hampi deserves 2-3 days of exploration.

How many days to spend in Pattadakal?

What can I do in 1 day in Pattadakal?

Just a half day tour in Pattadakal is more than enough. You can spend an entire day if you wish to study each Pattadakal temple in detail. But for a regular tourist or devotee, 3-4 hours are enough to explore Pattadakal in its entirety.

I noticed that most of the tourists spent only 2-3 hours in Pattadakal. You don’t need to spend 2 days in Pattadakal. No one does that.

Is it possible to cover Badami Pattadkal Aihole in 2 days?

Yes, very much. I had visited Badami, Pattadakal and Aihole in two days as a weekend trip from Bangalore. Here are the details of the same.

On my Pattadakal, Aihole and Badami circuit, I had arrived at Pattadakal the first thing early morning. Pattadakal Karnataka has the least number of monuments so I wrapped up my visit to Pattadakal in 2 hours and headed to Aihole.

I finished visiting all the major attractions of Aihole and arrived at Badami just before it was getting dark. The red sandstone cliffs were glowing at the Golden hour when I visited. I stayed overnight in Badami and visited its cave temples the next day.

On a hindsight, I should have stayed in Aihole for more time as there were so many temples still waiting to be discovered. Personally, I feel tourists should see Pattadakal Karnataka early morning, head to Aihole, spend 1-2 days here and move to Badami next.

Is it possible to cover Badami Pattadakal Aihole in one day?

You can travel to Badami Pattadakal Aihole in one day but I do not recommend it. While Pattadakal sightseeing can be done in just 2-3 hours, temples in Aihole and Badami are many and deserve at least one day at both the places.

Group of monuments in Pattadakal, Aihole and Badami are a pride of India.

Local Transport for sightseeing in Pattadakal

Local buses which will transport you too and from the nearby places such as Badami and Aihole are easily available right outside the doorstep of Pattadakal temples.

Where to stay: Hotels in Pattadakal Karnataka

Let’s get it straight, Pattadakal is a village. Most people who visit Pattadakal stay in either Badami or Aihole. I had visited Patatdakal and Aihole on the same day and reached Badami just before sunset. I stayed in Badami overnight.

Solo Budget Travel Tips for Pattadakal Temple

Pattadakal is a perfect destination for solo trip and budget trip.

Therefore, Pattadakal group of monuments are a dream destination for history buffs and solo budget travellers. It also takes very less to travel to Badami and Aihole from Pattadakal via public transport. What’s not to love?

Backpacking Budget Travel Tips for Pattadakal

Pattadakal is a very low-cost place to see in Karnataka. In fact, Pattadakal was the cheapest places I have ever visited.

The only money I spent on visiting Pattadakal monuments was the sleeper class train fare from Bangalore, the quick bus ride from Badami railway station and entrance fee for entering temples.

You can also spend on tourist guide which is not much. The costs are low and the value is high.

Luxury travel Tips for Pattadakal

There are zero luxury facilities available in Pattadakal because it is situated in a nondescript village. The most luxurious thing you can do in Pattadakal is to book a direct cab from Badami.

Is Pattadakal Safe to visit?

Yes, group of monuments in Pattadakal are very safe to visit. As a brown male Indian, I did not feel unsafe here. I also know of foreigners and females who have travelled here and felt safe.

However, try to avoid visiting Pattadakal group of monuments after 3 p.m. especially if you are a solo budget traveller who takes public transport. It is located in a remote place with zero to few facilities. You do not want to end up stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Hire a tourist Guide in Pattadakal temple

English speaking tourist guides are easily available at Pattadakal. The guides also know Hindi and South Indian languages. They can help you see hidden features of temples and educate you on the purpose of temples, history and architectural nuances.

Guides can be booked from the ticket counter. They can also show you main points of attractions in Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal Karnataka. However, I prefer booking individual guides.

Taking a paid guided tour of Pattadakal temple complex is a top thing to do here. There are no free walking tours in Pattadakal.

Entry Fee of group of monuments at Pattadakal 

The entry fee to Pattadakal monuments is very less for Indian tourists. Foreigners are charged much more than Indians which is pretty fair, given that Europeans even charge heavily for using their toilets. I had to pay extra fee for using my camera inside the temple. The ticket counter is located right at the entrance of the temple complex.

Timing of Pattadakal Temple

Pattadakal Group of temples are open from 8:00 a.m. to 5 pm. I started my Pattadakal temple tour at 8:20 a.m. I was the first tourist of the day. Starting early gave me the advantage of zero crowd.

It also helped by wrap up my trip by 10 a.m. and I reached Aihole on the same day at 12:20 a.m. after spending some time in breakfast and waiting for bus at Pattadakal temple.

Loo Guide near Pattadakal temple 

Spic and span clean toilets are located right within the temple complex.

Languages spoken in Pattadakal

Kannada is the main language spoken and understood in Pattadakal. But worry not, the local guide has good command over English, Hindi, Kannada an many other South Indian language and foreign languages as well. The locals can also speak and understand little Hindi. Since Pattadakal is located in a rural setting, do not expect fluent Hindi or English by locals.

UPSC exams

Questions on Pattadakal are frequently asked in UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam for for IAS, IFS, PCS. Here is the free comprehensive travel guide to Pattadakal temple to help aspirants prepare for the competitive examinations. This is the most detailed travel guide on Pattadakal. I have explained all the frequently asked questions in this information packed article.

Photography Tips for Pattadakal

The golden hour of early morning and the time just before sunset is a nice time to take architectural shots in Pattadakal temple complex.

How to reach Pattadakal from Badami

I visited Pattadakal asa quick weekend getaway from Bengaluru via an overnight train. Pattadakal is located in a small sleepy village. Hence there are no airports or train stations in Pattadakal. You can take a mini bus to group of monuments at Pattadakal from Badami. I had reached Badami station via an overnight train from Bengaluru. As soon as I got down, I got a mini bus heading to Badami. It was an easy and short ride which costed almost nothing.

Later, I had taken the public bus to Aihole from Pattadakal. It makes for a nice weekend destination from Bengaluru.

By rail: Closest railway station from Pattadakal Karnataka is at Badami. You can take a train directly from Bangalore to Badami.

By air: The closest domestic airport from Pattadakal is the Belgaum Airport. The closest domestic airport from Pattadakal is the International Dabolim Airport of Goa. Airport at Hubli is another option.

By bus: Connecting buses to Pattadakal are easily available from both Aihole and Pattadakal.

Distances from Pattadakal

Below are the distances of Pattadakal from and nearby tourist attractions in South and West India. After Pattadakal sightseeing, you can head to these nearby places via train, bus, cab or flight. This distance chart will help to plan your trip better. You can choose to club any of these excursions and destinations near Pattadakal.

Distance between Aihole and Pattadakal is 13 kilometres and it takes 20 minutes via Pattadakal road. 

Distance between Badami and Pattadakal is 21 kilometres and it takes 30 minutes via NH 367 and Pattadakal road.

Distance between Hampi and Pattadakal is 135 kilometres and it takes 3 hours and 15 minutes via NH50.

Distance between Panaji in Goa and Pattadakal is 278 kilometres and it takes 6 hours and 45 minutes via Bachi Raichur Highway and Bagalkot Belgaum Highway.

Distance between Karwar and Pattadakal is 292 kilometres and it takes 6 hours via NH52.

Distance between Murudeshwar and Pattadakal is 327 kilometres and it takes 6 hours and 40 minutes via NH52.

Distance between Shivamogga and Pattadakal is 333 kilometres and it takes 6 hours and 20 minutes via NH48. 

Distance between Halebidu and Pattadakal is 395 kilometres and it takes 7 hours and 30 minutes via NH50. 

Distance between Belur and Pattadakal is 411 kilometres and it takes 7 hours and 53 minutes via NH50.

Distance between Bangalore and Pattadakal is 444 kilometres and it takes 8 hours via NH48 and NH50. 

Distance between Sakleshpur and Pattadakal is 445 kilometres and it takes 8 hours and 40 minutes via NH50. 

Distance between Shravanbelagola and Pattadakal is 484 kilometres and it takes 8 hours and 15 minutes via NH48 and NH50.

Distance between Mysuru and Pattadakal is 527 kilometres and it takes 9 hours and 15 minutes via NH50.

Distance between Chennai and Pattadakal is 800 kilometres and it takes 14 hours and 30 minutes via NH48. 

Best time to visit Pattadakal temples

Winter:  I visited Pattadakal on 28th September. It was early morning and I found the weather very pleasant and breezy. It was the best time to visit Pattadakal temple.

As with any South Indian destination, winter is the best time to see Pattadakal Karnataka. October, November, December, January and February are cooler months in Pattadakal and Karnataka. Expect clear blue skies, crisp weather and low temperature.

However, do not think of carrying woollens. Even in January and December, it is possible to roam around Karnataka in just T shirts and pants.

Summer: Summers are harsh in South India. I personally avoid traveling to Karnataka in summer months of April, May, June.

Monsoon: It rains heavily in July and August. That said, I have travelled around Hampi, Belur and Halebeedu in rainy season and it rained just once.

What to wear in Pattadakal?

Just light cotton clothes are great to wear in Pattadakal throughout the year. The winter of Pattadakal is also much warmer than the winter of North India. You must also dress respectfully because Pattadakal is a sacred place. Avoid mini-skirts, shorts etc. This is also true for other tourist places near Pattadakal.

Conclusion: Why visit Pattadakal?

Pattadakal is worth a visit. The sightseeing attractions of Pattadakla are off the beaten track. Pattadakal is one of the most offbeat temples site of Karnataka and South India. Be it any Pattadakal temple, the art and architecture of Chalukyas blew my mind. Needless to say, Pattadakal monuments are one of the best places to see in South India.

The best part is that heritage sites of Badami, Pattadakal and Aihole can be easily visited in 2 days. So, when are you visiting Pattadakal Karnataka? Pin this blog for later planning.

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