Middle Kingdoms of India, Part 71


Siva Vishapaharana - Eastern Chalukya Dynasty
Andhra Pradesh, 9th-10th Century
Nelson Atkins Museum

Aug 12, 2015 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation of India's great history, religious movements and temple architecture.

The Badami Chalukyas

Today we continue our discussion on the Badami Chalukyas with a brief summary of their presence in Andhra Pradesh, one of numerous areas of ancient India, outside of Karnataka, where they extended their rule.

One of the tirtha's visited by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Mallikarjuna-tirtha at Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh. This pastime is described in the Summary of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya Lila 9. There are four sacred gateways to Srisaila dham, one of which is Alampur on the bank of the river Tungabhadra in Mahaboobnagar district, where there is a group of nine temples built by the Chalukyas, known as the Navabrahma Alayas. This kshetram is the seat of Devi Jogulamba, one of the 18 Mahasakthis.

Another place of Chalukya antiquity is Chebrolu village near Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh. Chebrolu is the abode of a magnificent image of Lord Brahma, mentioned earlier in this series. The catur-mukha linga has Brahma's four faces.

Historical narratives about the Chalukyas in this part of the country mention the various different camps of Chalukyas, who were sometimes fighting one another for supremacy. For example, Satyasaraya of the eastern Chalukyas sent an army under his general, Baya Nambi, to seize of the areas held by the Chalukya Cholas. The general entered Vengi from the south, destroyed the forts of Dharanikota and Yanamadala, and established himself at Chebrolu.

There are a great many Shiva temples in this area, most built during the reign of the Chalukya King, Krishna Deva Raya, the rest throughout the 10th-14th Centuries. Much of the architecture features lofty gopurams and stone construction.

Over the great span of time in which these various camps of Chalukyas ruled, they not only built and patronized many temples, but also re-built and renovated temples erected by other, non-Chalukya rulers. For example, there is the Brahma Temple at Kaleshwaram. Kaleshwar, in the Karimnagar area of north central Andhra Pradesh, sits at the confluence of the Godavari River and its tributary, Pranahita. 'Kaleswara' refers to the Lord of Death, or Yamaraj.

The antiquity of Kaleshwaram is established in Puranic literature, and it has been a center of Vaisnava, Saivite, and Jain worship over many centuries. The Skanda Purana mentions the importance of Kaleshwaram's placement at the river confluence. The main temple was built by the Chalukyas, then later renovated by the Kakatiyas during the 12th or 13th Century.

Conversley, there is the Varaha Laksmi-narasimha Temple at Simhachalam, near Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. Again memorialized in the Puranas, Srila Vedavyasa wrote about the original temple in the Skanda Purana. Hiranyakasipu tried to punish his son Prahlada by throwing him into the sea. He then placed Simhachalam hill over his head in order to drown him. Lord Narasimha rescued Prahlada, tilted the hill by standing it on one side so that Prahlada could escape. Later Prahlada founded this temple shrine. This ancient temple was renovated by the Chalukyas in the 11th Century. Built high on the hill, the temple has exquisitely carved halls, with extensive application of both Chalukyan and Orissan styles of architecture.

The Badami Chalukyas are often mentioned in discussions about Orissan temple architecture. Their contribution to architectural design was described in a past Sun Feature on the Vesara style temple found in Orissa. Author Anjaliprava Sahoo of Bhubaneswar describes here how this style originated with the Chalukyas, and continued to permeate architectural culture through the 14th Century:

    "Vesara type of temples contains elements of both Nagara and Dravida styles. This style is also described in some texts as the 'Central Indian Temple Architecture Style' or 'Deccan Architecture'. The trend was started by the Chalukyas of Badami (500-753 A.D.) who built temples in a style is that was essentially a mixture of the Nagara and the Dravida styles, further refined by the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta (750- 983 A.D.) in Ellora, Chalukyas of Kalyani (983- 1195A.D.) in Lakkundi, Dambal, Gadag etc. and epitomized by the Hoysalas (1000-1330 A.D.). This style is mostly prevalent in the Deccan. The ground plan of the temples of this style is star shaped or polygonal. The temple consists of shrine, anti-chamber and hall with aisles and porch."


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