Structural Temples: Early Chalukyan Style of Temple Architecture

Structural temples style was the architectural style followed by Early Chalukyan kings. Alampur Temples are the best examples for this type of architecture. The Kakatiya dynasty temples are also considered as Early Chalukyan style of architecture.

Alampur (near Kurnool)  

Hindu temples in Alampur reflect the style of Papanath at Pattadhakal, because of their Indo Aryan Shikharas. They are not large temples; the largest temple occupies a rectangle 75 feet by 50 feet. They are structurally very complete as the walls and spires are in a finished state and there is a finial in the form of a fluted melon like member (amalasila) in position on most of them.

Nine Early Chalukyan temples dating from the 7th – 8th centuries are situated at Alampur on the Tungabhadra river. Although they are known collectively as the Nava Brahma, all of the shrines are dedicated to Shiva. A rectangle of walls encompasses a sanctuary surrounded by a pathway and a mandapa on columns divided into three ailes.

Rising over the sanctuary is a curved shikhara (tower) derived from central and western India models. This is divided into tiers and decorated with arch like motifs; a large amalasila is placed on top. The outer walls are regularly divided into projecting niches.

Alampur retained its importance as a major religious centre all through the history. The protective walls and gateways in the town and the 11th century Papanasi group of temples (which have been dismantled and re-erected about four km to the southeast) stand testimony to that.

Kakatiya Temples:

The early chiefs of the Kakatiya dynasty were feudatories of the Chalukyas. As independent kings, the Kakatiyas ruled the Deccan for nearly two hundred years in the 12th and 13th Century with architectural works mainly concentrated around Warangal.

The Kakatiya architecture has roots in the Chalukyan style with improvisation to suit local conditions. Locally available granite and sandstone were used for the main structure. The Shikhara was built with lime and brick. Kakatiyas stepped their Shikharas instead of using curvilinear spires of Chalukyas and vertical structures of the north. The domed ceiling of the central hall was polygonal, eight or sixteen sided instead of circular. Volcanic, intricately carved and polished black basalt was used for pillars, jambs, lintels and motifs.

Hanamkonda and Warangal

The Thousand Pillar Temple at Hanamkonda was erected in 1163 by Kakatiya king Rudradeva. Three shrines in this temple are dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Surya. The doorways have cutout lintels. To the south of the Mandapa rests an exquisitely polished Nandi (bull figure), the temple has several columned mandapas. The large number of granite columns of this temple has given it, its name.

Warangal, once the capital of Kakatiya kings, was an important urban centre of the Deccan since the eleventh century. In 1300 AD the city is said to have had a population of nearly 100 000.

The Bahmanis finally captured Warangal in 1366 and later Warangal became part of the Qutb Shahi kingdom.

The old city has an unique circular plan with two concentric circles of fortifications. Most of Warangal’s standing buildings are located within the circular shaped fort. The famous entrance portals on four sides are 30 meters (100 feet) high. Of the centrally located Shiva temple of Kakatiya period, only the ruins remain. The only courtly building to survive is Kush Mahal attributed to Sitab Khan, alias Sitapati a Hindu chief, and Governor of Warangal under the Bahmanis in the early sixteenth century. This is the only royal palace in Warangal, though not belonging to the Kakatiya kings.

The Kush Mahal does not resemble any of the Bahamani buildings of the Deccan. The palace is smaller in scale but strikingly similar to the sixteenth century Hindola Mahal in Mandu, capital of the Malwa kingdom near Indore in Madhya Pradesh.

Kush Mahal is the only royal palace in Warangal that survives: though it does not belong to the Kakatiya kings. George Michell, UK based scholar of Indian architecture opined that being at the geometric centre of the fort and near the Shiva Temple, Kush Mahal may have been built over the site of an original Kakatiya palace, which like the Shiva temple was dismantled.

Palampet and Ghanpur

Ramappa Temple of Palampet, about 40 km north of Warangal and built in 1213, consists of the main shrine dedicated to Shiva with the nandi mandapa in front. It has a reddish sandstone exterior and projecting eave continuing around the building. The shikhara is multi storeyed and made of brick. The most striking features of the temple are the figure brackets springing from the shoulders of the outer pillars supporting the eaves slabs. Highly polished in black basalt, these consist of mythic beasts or elongated female figures almost life size, cut with great precision.

Six kms from Palampet, Ghanpur has two 13th century partly ruined temples in Kakatiya style similar to the Ramappa Temple.

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