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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

Badami or Vatapi was the center of ancient Chalukyan glory. It was home to several rock-cut temples and structural temples. Historically, Vatapi suffered defeat at the hands of the Pallava king Narasimhavarma Pallavan (Mamalla after whom Mamallapuram is named) and his general Sirutonda Naayanaar in the year 642 CE. Twelve years later, the Chalukyas recaptured Vatapi and led a successful attack on Kanchipuram the capital of Pallavas.

Legend has it there were two demon siblings Vatapi and Ilvala, who had a trick by which they could kill and make a meal of mendicants passing by. Their tricks worked until Agastya muni came by and counter-tricked them and brought an end to Vatapi's life. Two of the hills in Badami are supposed to represent the demons Ilvalan and Vatapi.

There are several temples dating from the Chalukyan period in Badami.

The first set of temples is a group of four  on a hill adjacent to the Bhutanata tank, connected through flights of stairs.

The first temple dating back to the 5th century CE has gigantic carvings of Ardhanareeswara and Harira manifestations of Shiva in bas relief. It enshrines a Shivalingam. In the adjacent wall there is a carving of the cosmic dance of Shiva Nataraja depicted with eighteen arms.  There are also reliefs of Ganapati, Shanmukha and Mahishasuramardhini.

The second temple bears images of Vishnu in his Varaha and Trivikrama incarnations. It is reached through a flight of 64 stairs from the first one. On its celing, are carvings of Vishnu on Garuda and several other scenes from the puranas.

The third rock cut temple is reached from the 2nd temple through a flight of 60 steps. It is a 100 feet dep cave, with inscriptions dating this Vishnu temple to 578 CE during, the period of Kiritivarma Chalukya.  Here there are carved images of the Narasimha and Trivikrama avataras of Vishnu. There are also murals depicting the divine marriage of Shiva and Parvati.

Further up, is a Jain rock cut temple dedicated to the Tirtankara Adinatha with inscriptions dating back to the 12th century.

Of the structural temples in Badami, the Dattatreya temple and the  Mallikarjuna are noteworthy. The Mallikarjuna temple dating back to the 11th century  is built on a star shaped plan. There are also temples with the Dravidian style of vimanas.

Badami is noted for two early inscriptions dating events in history in the 6th century. The earlier one in sanskrit dates back to 543 CE, from the period of Pulakesi I (Vallabheswara), on a hillock. Near the Bhutanata temple, on a rock, there is an inscription testifying Mamalla Pallava's victory over the Chalukyas in the year 642 CE.