Vastu-shastra (5): Temple Architecture

by D. N. Shukla | 1960 | 69,139 words | ISBN-10: 8121506115 | ISBN-13: 9788121506113

This page describes Chalukyan Temples of the study on Vastu-Shastra (Indian architecture) fifth part (Temple architecture). This part deals with This book deals with an outline history of Hindu Temple (the place of worship). It furtherr details on various religious buildings in India such as: shrines, temples, chapels, monasteries, pavilions, mandapas, jagatis, prakaras etc. etc.

One of the brilliant and characteristic phases of Indian Architecture is what is called the Chalukyan architecture. The contemporary writers have not given a serious thought to one of the most important contributions that this phase is credited to. This phase may be regarded to have provided the nucleus to the evolution of the Hindu Temple in both the styles of its art, the Dravidian and the Northern or Nāgara styles of architecture. Its beginnings at Aihole and Badami, the ancient Vitapi 450 A.D. to 650 are remarkable for this characteristic which got developed in its clear cut norms in its early phase al all the three ancient Chalukyan capitals—Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal, during its onslaughts in 600 to 750 A.D., This thesis is corroborated by Percy Brown’s estimation.—See Indian Architecture p. 63 1st two paras.

The temples known as the Ladh Khan, the Durga, the Huchchi-mallegudi, the Jain temple of Meguti, and a series of the four-pillared halls (three Brahmanical and one Jain) excavated in the scarp of a hill overlooking the south-east side of Badami, represent the beginnings of Chalukyan architecture. Ladh Khan is notable for a particular form of Dravidian Order, the “Cushion” Capital with an expanded floral abacus supporting the bracket. The Durga temple though a Brahmanical shrine, may be regarded a Brahmanical version of the Buddhist Caitya hall, adapted to suit the service of the former creed. The ancient township of Aihole in Dharwar, the capital of the early Chalukyan dynasty was one of the cradles of Indian temple-architecture. Most of the temples of this site arc of the flat roofed, order, and similar therefore to those of the Gupta style of the more northerly latitude, displaying a characteristic which implies an early stage in the process of evolution of Hindu temple towards its two powerful exuberences, as already propounded in the proceeding pages.

Other stages of development in the Chalukyan temples may be enumerated:

“For instance in the most primitive of all, the shrine is in the body of the building, with nothing on the exterior to mark its position from outside. Afterwards a tower was added over the shrine, not only to give this central feature dignity, but also as a means of distinguishing the temple from other buildings. Later, the shrine, or cella, was contained in a structure projected from the western end of the temple and surmounted by a tower. This last development caused the sanctuary to form a kind of annexe attached to the body of the temple, the shrine and tower combined comprising that portion of the structure known as the Vimāna, thus laying the found action of the Dravidian style to emerge in its great elegance.”

Together with these formative stages of Chalukyan architecture may be added a further stage where the beginning of that significant feature, the Śikhara is also observable e.g. Durgā temple. At Aihole in addition to the series of Indo Aryan or Nāgara or Northern, there are several examples of the contrasting or Dravidian tpyle [type?] as well e.g. the Jain temple (No. 39) and the Meguti temple. But these are unpreserved structures.

For a very early complete example of Dravidian style in this region we have to turn towards Badami the later seat of the Chalukyan dynasty. Two shrines—Mahākuteśvara [Mahākūṭeśvara?] and the Malegitti-Śivalaya arc the examples of this manifestation.

The next stage in the development of the temple architecture of the period in these parts may be studied in the temples of Pattadakal, the third of the Chalukyan capital seats. It is remarkable for the exuberance of both the styles exhibited side by side.

There are ten temples of consequence at this renowned site, four of which are in the Indo-Aryan or Northern or Nāgara-style and the six in the Dravidian or Southern as tabulated hereunder:—


  1. Papanath temple,
  2. Jambulinga,
  3. Karsidhesvara,
  4. Kāśīnātha (Kāśīviśvanātha).


  1. Sangameśvara,
  2. Virūpākṣa,
  3. Mallikārjuna,
  4. Galagnātha [Galaganātha?],
  5. Sunmeśvara,
  6. Jain temple.

Most of these temples were executed at the time when Chalukyan dynasty reached the height of its power under Vijayaditya (696-733) and Vikramāditya II (733-46) and thus the actual meridian of the style at Pattadakal was attained in the first half of the eighth century. Some of these temples especially the Virūpākṣa is noted for the lavish display of superb sculpture, the plastic ornamentation. For details see Percy Brown p. 84.

Apart from this centre of the architectural movement associated with the Early Chalukyans as was confined in the triad of their capitals, a minor development of somewhat similar character took place in the same region of Dharwer, at Alampur, a village on the west bank of the Tungabhadra river in the Raichur district of the old Nizam Dominions where there is a group of six temples almost identical with those listed above. They are situated inside a fortified enclosure in the same manner as at Aihole. They are however more in the style of Papanath as they have Indo-Aryan Śikharas and may accordingly be assigned to the same date of the later half of the 7th century.

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