I spent some while pondering how to get to see this world heritage site, even briefly considering the taxi option advertised around Hampi. The nearest town to Pattadakal, Badami, is only a hundred kilometres away and has a railway station, but the rail route was messy and indirect. In the end I threw myself on the mercy of the bus system (and the nice men at the bus station) and three bouncy buses later found myself in The Town With No Internet.
Badami itself has a few temples on the outskirts of town, plus some other important historic sites nearby, but I lazily opted just to see the WHS, which is a bus ride away along remarkably potholed roads, even for India.
Pattadakal is an imaculately kept site, with well watered lawns, a few shady trees and neatly clipped little hedges. It is a delight to visit, or at least it would be if lone foreign visitors did not attract so much attention. I had three separate groups of Indian school children crowding round and pushing their mobile phones into my face to take my photograph, lots of people wanting to pose with me for pictures and one father virtually chased me up a path with a small child under his arm in the hope of photographing it alongside me. It wasn’t as if I was the only tourist there, but I was one of the few not in a tour group.
I would like to say that I bore all this unwanted attention with grace and stoicism, but that would be a lie; it started to fray my nerves and the only thing that stopped me getting really cross was deciding to see this as a kind of penance on behalf of all the English people who have ever taken intrusive non-consensual snaps of exotic foreigners. You bastards owe me big time.
Amidst all this though, the temples (nine Hindu, one Jain) were great. They date from the seventh and eighth centuries and were built by the Chalukya dynasty, who ruled much of central and southern India between the sixth and twelth centuries. This was a place they held their coronations.
The architecture on the site is a mix of both southern ‘Dravidian’ and northern Indian styles, which, as far as I understand, are most easily distinguished by the different designs of the towering roofs over the temple sanctuaries.
Many of the buildings had wonderful carvings on the interior columns, showing scenes that I wished I knew the meaning of or stories behind.
The temple interiors are lit by pierced stone windows, the varied (mostly) geometric patterns of which I had a compulsion to keep photographing.
Two of the temples on site, including the largest, where built by two Queens of the same king, to celebrate some of his various battle victories. They are both very similar and UNESCO describe the larger Virupaksha temple as a “masterpiece of Chalukya art”.
Most of the buildings are far too intricate for me to be able to render them in Lego, so I had to chose one of the small simple ones. I went for this one
but could not of course manage the beautifully subtle curve on the roof: instead I had to go for a blocky approximation.