The early Chalukyas of Badami (c. 6th-8th centuries) are known to have built a large number of rock-cut and structural temples, scattered over the entire Karnataka. In this south Indian state, their distinctive monuments can be seen in Aihole, Badami, Pattadakal, Mahakuta, and a few other places. By the end of the 6th century, they had excavated highly impressive rock-cut temples at Badami and Aihole. This book, however, focuses exclusively on the group of temples at Mahakuta.
Mahakuta has a long historic past. A religious centre as well, this city (in the present-day Karnataka) figures prominently in the sthalpuranas, puranic legends, and epics. During the early Chalukya rule, it was one of the celebrated temple cities. Mahakuta also emerged as a powerful centre of the Pasupata Lakulisa sect. Accordingly, the conversion of Chalukya Vikramaditya-I to Saivism had a great impact on its temple-building activity. The Mahakuta pillar inscription of Mangalesa, dated 602 AD, speaks of god Mahakutesvara. From the inscription, it is evident that the temple of Mahakutesvara did exist before 602 AD. However, despite its close proximity to Badami and the World Heritage Site Pattadakal, Mahakuta has received little attention.
Setting out a comprehensive description of the Mahakuta temples, this book is perhaps the first scholarly effort to understand their significance in the broader context of the early Chalukya art and architecture. It examines afresh the temples’ architectural styles, their sculptures, the iconography of their images, their chronology, and other allied aspects. The author also considers the enigma of Mahakuta pillar inscription of Mangalesa vis-à-vis the Mahakutesvara temple. Meena Mohite has, for this study, carried out an extensive architectural survey of the Mahakuta temples. The book carries a good number of illustrations.
Dr Meena Mohite is Associate Professor in the Department of History and Archaeology, Bhaurao Kakatkar College, Belgaum, Karnataka.