Western Chalukya Architecture - Evolution


Though the basic plan of the Western Chalukya style originated from the older dravida style, many of its features were unique and peculiar to it. One of these distinguishing features of the Western Chalukyan architectural style was an articulation that can still be found throughout modern Karnataka. The only exceptions to this motif can be found in the area around Kalyani, where the temples exhibit a nagara (North Indian) articulation which has its own unique character.

In contrast to the buildings of the early Badami Chalukyas, whose monuments were centred around the metropoleis of Pattadakal, Aihole, and Badami, these Western Chalukya temples are widely dispersed, reflecting a system of local government and decentralisation. The Western Chalukya temples were smaller than those of the early Chalukyas, a fact discernible in the reduced height of the superstructures which tower over the shrines.

The Western Chalukya art evolved in two phases, the first lasting approximately a quarter of a century and the second from the beginning of 11th century until the end of Western Chalukya rule in 1186 CE. During the first phase, temples were built in the Aihole-Banashankari-Mahakuta region (situated in the early Chalukya heartland) and Ron in the Gadag district. A few provisional workshops built them in Sirval in the Gulbarga district and Gokak in the Belgaum district. The structures at Ron bear similarities to the Rashtrakuta temples in Kuknur in the Koppal district and Mudhol in the Bijapur district, evidence that the same workshops continued their activity under the new Karnata dynasty. The mature and latter phase reached its peak at Lakkundi (Lokigundi), a principal seat of the imperial court. From the mid-11th century, the artisans from the Lakkundi school moved south of the Tungabhadra River. Thus the influence of the Lakkundi school can be seen in some of the temples of the Davangere district, and in the temples at Hirehadagalli and Huvinahadgalli in the Bellary district.

Influences of Western Chalukya architecture can be discerned in the geographically distant schools of architecture of the Hoysala Empire in southern Karnataka, and the Kakatiya dynasty in present-day Andhra Pradesh. Sometimes called the Gadag style of architecture, Western Chalukya architecture is considered a precursor to the Hoysala architecture of southern Karnataka. This influence occurred because the early builders employed by the Hoysalas came from pronounced centres of medieval Chalukya art. Further monuments in this style were built not only by the Western Chalukya kings but, also by their feudal vassals.

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