Galaganatha temple, Pattadakkal, Karnataka:
Karnataka boasts of some really interesting temples that are lesser known but more important in the path to maturity of architectural styles that later governed the imperial Cholas and Vijayanagara kingdoms in the south, as well as the Orissa and Khajuraho. Aihole, Badami and Pattadakkal were the seat of architectural experiments that took place in the post Gupta era, during the rule of the Chalukyas of Badami.
Galaganatha temple is one such temple, hardly known to us but would be considered a complete learning experience to anyone who sees it. What remains of this temple is the cross section of a once complete temple now in ruins.
At first look, it paves the way to Orissa school of architecture (a combination of Nagara and Bhumija styles), the elements seen in later Orissa temples like the Lingaraja, Mukteshwara and also the Vittal Deol temples. What is more interesting is the pronounced approach to the various parts of the temple roof.
For one, the most striking feature is the deep dark passage of circum-ambulation that surrounds the main shrine. The central door leads to the shrine proper within which the deity resides. Interestingly the sloping roof was experimented upon, in this temple as well as at the Hucchimalli Gudi temple also found at Pattadakkal.
In fact even more interesting is the point that the interior of the temple within the shrine chamber and the roof (vimana) above it was one hollow room, which displays itself is greater extravaganza in later temples like Brihadeshwara at Tanjore and Gangaikondacholapuram. It also shows a process of multiple floors in the making, which can be seen in Varadaraja Perumal temple Kanchipuram (Pallava style).
What appears here as a gaping hole in the tower (top most window) is called the Gavaksha window (chandrasala in the north and kudu in Tamil), which used to host a form of the deity within. In fact that was the only way to find out to whome these temples were attributed, given most of the shrines are now missing. The lintels above the door still show signs of possible iconographic carvings of the deity within.
This is one example of a temple in early stages of development, where we can quite clearly understand how to identify the deity to which it has been attributed, should all the idols inside and on the niches outside go missing.
Original photos ©2002 Michael D. Gunther.