History of Chalukya Sculptures
In the patronage of the Early Chalukya rulers, trialling in temple building planning, art and architecture started roughly in the 5th century in Aihole, Pattadakal and some other places. It was Pulakesin I who shifted his capital from Aihole to Vatapi (Badami). From the central of the 6th century and for almost 200 years, the Chalukyas of Badami held authority over northern Deccan. Around the same time, a group of cave temples at Badami were sculpted under the Chalukya leaders. The Chinese explorer Hiuen-tsang, who visited the Chalukyan Empire in 639 C.E., mentioned Pulakesin II as a defeater of the Deccan. Badami remained the Chalukya capital for approximately 200 years, from 540 C.E. to 757 C.E.
Famous Chalukya Sculptures
Chalukyas, who ruled over upper Deccan, were very much interested in temple architecture. They built a number of rock-cut cave-temples and structural temples of brick dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. The vital stone temples are the Vishnu temples at Badami and Aihole and the Virupaksha or Shiva Temple at Pattadakal in Bijapur District. The Vishnu temple at Badami was built by the Magalesa of the Chalukya Dynasty and encloses the Aihole message of Vikramaditya II, which gives a lot of information about the Chalukyas. The cave temples, particularly those at Badami includes fine sculptures of Vishnu reclining on Sesha Nag, Varaha the Boar, Narasimha or the half-lion and half-man and Vamana the dwarf. The temple towns of Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal still bear the near perfect shrines that are reminiscent of the brilliant artistry predominant during the Chalukyas.
Temples at Aihole: The temples at Aihole are closed 4 sided figure mandapas which is standing on a basement. They have a corridor with 4 innermost pillars, supporting a flat roof. The inclined border of the roof is supported on 2 rows of pillars, the one on the edge shorter than the other. The gap between the 2 rows of pillars is closed by pierced stone-slabs. The main mandapa holds a Nandi. The horizontal roof has a different shrine, the walls of which are made of slabs. The inclined roof helped to drain off the rain water.
Virupaksha Temple: Situated at the Pattadakal, the Virupaksha temple is the most primitive temple complex of the Chalukyas. It consists of a towering vimanam, mandapas and smaller shrines around the court covered by a wall. The frontage and back walls have large gopura doorways. The smaller shrines are two-layer and have arched halls. The main square structure has a tall 4 layer vimanam. The mandapa pillars are luxuriantly sculptured and the temples at Pattadakal symbolize both the Northern and Southern approach of architecture.
Cave Temples: The cave temples at Ellora are devoted to Shiva and include images of Mahesha, Linga and Nandi. One of the caves is double-storey. The cave temples in Andhra Pradesh have relief monuments of Ganesha, Brahma, Vishnu, Linga and Nandi. The large cave temples dig by the early Chalukyas which is located in Badami, Aihole, Ellora and in the Guntur and Krishna districts of Andhra Pradesh. Of the 3 Brahmanical caves at Badami, two are dedicated to Vishnu and one to Shiva. These temples consist of a rectangular pillared verandah, a square pillared hall with a small shrine cell at the back. Excavated in an axial plane, they have flat roofs like the mandapa type temples. Broad entrances, tall pillars with cushion type capitals supporting the roof and hanging roof space are the chief features of these cave temples. Figures of animals, humans and heavenly beings decorate the collections.
Several colossal temples were carved out of hard rock (granite or soapstone) to create outstanding monuments. The walls of the temples bear testimony to the artistic wizardry of the age. The charm and beauty of the Chalukya sculptures are such that an onlooker will be completely immersed in its splendour.
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