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Chalukya Dynasty – Religion, Art & Architecture


  • The Chalukyas patronised both Saivism and Vaishnavism.
  • They built temples for Siva and Vishnu.
  • Brahmin groups were invited from the Gangetic regions and settled to perform regular pujas and conduct festivals and ceremonies in the temples.
  • Notable Chalukya rulers like Kirtivarman I, Mangalesa (597-609), and Pulikesin II (609-642) performed yagnas.
  • They bore titles such as parama-vaishana and paramamaheswara.
  • Chalukyas gave prominent place to Kartikeyan, the war god.
  • Saiva monasteries became centres for popularising Saivism.
  • Chalukyas patronised heterodox sects also and lavishly donated lands to the Jain centres.
  • Ravikirti, the poet-laureate of Pulikesin II, was a Jain scholar.
  • In the reign of Kirtivarman II a Jain village official built a Jain temple in a place called Annigere.
  • The prince Krishna appointed Gunapatra, a Jain monk, as his master.
  • According to Hiuen Tsang, there were many Buddhist centres in the Chalukya territory wherein more than 5000 followers of the Hinayana and Mahayana sects lived.

Literature and Education

  • Chalukyas used Sanskrit in pillar inscriptions such as in Aihole and Mahakudam.
  • A seventh-century inscription of a Chalukya king at Badami mentions Kannada as the local prakrit, meaning the people’s language, and Sanskrit as the language of culture.
  • A chieftain of Pulikesin II authored a grammar work Saptavataram in Sanskrit.

Chalukya Architecture

  • Historically, in Deccan, Chalukyas introduced the technique of building temples using soft sandstones as medium.
  • In Badami, two temples are dedicated to Vishnu and one each to Siva and to the Jaina tirthankaras.
  • Their temples are grouped into two:
    • excavated cave temples and
    • structural temples.
  • Badami is known for both structural and excavated cave temples.
  • Pattadakal and Aihole are popular for structural temples.

Aihole (Ayyavole)

  • Built in 634, Aihole, the headquarters of the famous medieval Ayyavole merchants’ guild was an important commercial centre.
  • About seventy temples are located in Aihole.
  • The earliest stone-built temple is Lad Khan temple.
  • Its unique trait is a stucco pillar with a big capital distinct from northern style.
  • A temple dedicated to the goddess Durga was built on the model of Buddha Chaitya.
  • It stands on a raised platform in the form of semi-circle.
  • Another temple, dedicated to the same goddess is called Huccimalligudi, which is rectangular in shape.
  • Chalukyas also built Jain temples.
  • Megudi Jain temple is illustrative of the evolution of temple architecture under the Chalukyas.
  • The mandapa-type caves are preserved at Aihole.

Vatapi (Badami)

  • There are four caves in Badami.
  • The largest cave temple built by Mangalesa is dedicated to Vishnu.
  • The reclining posture of Vishnu on the snake bed and Narasimha are exquisite examples of Chalukya art.
  • Irrespective of religion, architectural features share a common style.
  • It establishes the technical importance and the secular attitude of both patron and architect.


  • Pattadakal, a quiet village in Bagalkot district of Karnataka, is famous for its exquisite temples.
  • Pattadakal was a centre for performing royal rituals.
  • The Virupaksha temple was built at the order of queen Lohamahadevi to commemorate the conquest of Kanchipuram by her husband Vikramaditya II.
  • The unique feature of the structural temple built by Rajasimha at Mamallapuram was adopted here by the Chalukyas.
  • Monuments are generally associated with the rulers who built them.
  • However, here we also have signatures of the architects who conceived the edifices and the skilled craftspeople who created them.
  • The east porch of the Virupaksha temple has a Kannada inscription eulogizing the architect who designed the temple.
  • The architect was given the title Tribhuvacharya (maker of the three worlds).
  • Several reliefs on the temple walls bear signatures of the sculptors who carved them.
  • At the south-eastern corner of the village is Aihole Durga Temple the Papanatha temple.
  • Similar to the Virupaksha temple in its basic plan, it has a shikara in the northern style.
  • The outer walls are richly decorated with many panels depicting scenes and characters from the Ramayana.
  • The eastern wall has a short Kannada inscription, giving the name of the architect Revadi Ovajja, who designed the shrine.
  • In Pattadakal, Chalukyas built more than ten temples which demonstrate the evolution in Chalukya architecture.
  • On the basis of style these temples are classified into two groups:
    • Indo-Aryan and
    • Dravidian.


  • Paintings are found in a cave temple dedicated to Vishnu in Badami.
  • Chalukyas adopted the Vakataka style in painting.
  • Many of the paintings are of incarnations of Vishnu.
  • The most popular Chalukya painting is in the palace built by the King Mangalesan (597-609).
  • It is a scene of ball being watched by members of royal family and others.

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