April 18, 2017

On World Heritage Day, join The Good City crew on a heritage trail through Karnataka. The largest state in South India has marvels created by humans at almost every turn, which bear testament to its vibrant history.

The state has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the group of monuments in Hampi and the group of monuments in Pattadakal. The government has also recommended seven archeological and historical sites to be included in the list: Bidar Fort, Gol Gumbaz in Vijayapura, Jama Masjid in Kalaburagi, Chennakeshava Temple in Belur, Hoysaleshwara Temple in Halebidu, the Badami Cave Temples and Durga Temple in Aihole.

All set? Read on.


The elegant arches of the Bidar Fort in North Karnataka is a contribution of the Bahmani Sultans. Built in the Indo-Saracenic style, the bastions, watch towers, gun foundries and cannons within the fort tell the story of the military prowess of the era.

Bidar Fort

The most impressive site in Vijayapura (Bijapur) is the Gol Gumbaz, the mausoleum of Mohammed Adil Shah (1627-1657), which has one of the largest domes in the world, with an internal diameter of 37.92 m. The building is also referred to as the rose dome, as rose petals surround its base. In the whispering gallery, the softest sound can be heard across a distance and a clap can be heard ten times over.

Gol Gumbaz, Vijayapura
Gol Gumbaz, Vijayapura

Kalaburagi (Gulbarga) was the capital of the Bahamani Sultans. The most famous heritage site here is the exquisite Jama Masjid. Built in 1367, the elegant domes and arched doorways are inspired by the Cordoba Mosque in Spain.

Jama Masjid, Vijayapura Image credit: Dinesh Shukla
Jama Masjid, Vijayapura Image credit: Dinesh Shukla

The Chalukyan temple towns of Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal reflect the exemplary craftsmanship of the era. Carved into sandstone hills, the four Badami Cave Temples are a feat of immense skill and imagination. Aihole is known as the ‘cradle of Indian temple architecture’. There are 125 temples here, and the most famous is the Durga Temple, which has a distinctive semi-circular design. Pattadakal was the commemorative site of the royals, and is believed to be the culmination of the experimentation stage of the Chalukyan architects.

 

From the land of the Chalukyas, we journey to Hampi, the erstwhile capital of the Vijayanagar Empire. Set against the picturesque backdrop of the Tungabhadra River, the monuments of the former kingdom evoke vivid pictures of life over five centuries ago, at a time when royalty held the ultimate power. (The Good City crew had journeyed to Hampi once before, and were awed, inspired and humbled in equal measure. Take a look.)

Virupaksha Temple, Hampi
Virupaksha Temple, Hampi

We end our tour in the historic towns of Belur and Halebidu, which are famous for sterling examples of Hoysala craftsmanship. The 900 year old Chennakeshava Temple in Belur and Hoysaleshwara Temple in Halebidu are famous for intricate carvings, both inside and outside the temples. The outer walls of the shrine and the sculptures were created out of soapstone and the inner carvings out of black-blue stone.

The sculpture of Darpanasundari in the Chennakesava Temple.
The sculpture of Darpanasundari in the Chennakesava Temple.

We hope you enjoyed this short snippet of the many marvels that this state has to offer. To know more, read Raintree Media’s Marvles of series: Marvels of Mysore & more, and Marvels of Karnataka & more! Available on the Golden Chariot and Kindle!

 

Image credits: Asha Thadani
Feature Image credit: Sandhya Mendonca