The temples of the Early Chalukyas, dating from the 6th to 8th centuries, are unrivalled in all of India for their comparatively early date and unusually complete condition, the remarkable juxtaposition of their different constructional techniques and building styles, and for the sheer beauty of their figural and decorative carvings. In spite of their outstanding significance, these monuments have until now lacked a publication that does justice to their architecture and sculpture.
This volume is the first to fully describe and illustrate the Early Chalukya temples in Badami, and nearby Mahakuta, Aihole and Pattadakal, all situated on or near to the Malprabha river in central karnataka. Michell's definitive text is complemented by more than 100 of his measured drawings taken from his PhD, which present the most through graphic documentation ever undertaken. These are accompanied by about 200 splendid, newly commissioned photographs by Surendra kumar.
George Michell trained as an architect in Melbourne, and then obtained a PhD in Indian Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, with a dissertation on Early Chalukya temples. Since then he has published books on various subjects like Vijayanagara, Thanjavur's great temple, the architecture and gardens of the Mughals, and the artistic heritage of kanara in costal Karnataka.
Surendra Kumar studied information technology in Bengaluru, and now works part – time as a photographer, specialising in panoramic topographic views. His work has been spectacularly showcased in a book on the Deccean.
The author's fascination with the architecture and art of the Early Chalukyas dates back to the mid – 1960s, when he first visited India as an architecture student. After furthering his studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, he selected the temples of Badami, Mahakuta, Aihole and Pattadakal as the topic for his PhD. With the help of a travel scholarship and the talents of fellow architects Garry Martin and Jiri Skopek, the author undertook field trips to the Badami region in 1970-71 and again in 1972-73 to make accurate measured surveys of the monuments. These architectural plans, elevations and selections were incorporated into the dissertation that he submitted in 1974, published the following year as An Architectural Description and Analysis of the Early Western Calukyan Temples, but now long out of print. In the years since, however, the temples of Badami, Mahakuta, Aihole and Pattadakal in present – day Karnataka have become increasingly well known to travellers, both Indian and foreign due to the inscription in 1987 of the Pattadakal monuments on UNESCO's prestigious World Heritage List. Even so, the Early Chalukya temples of the Badmi region are still less than adequately appreciated, and up to now have lacked an adequately illustrated publication. Hence the present volume reproduces most of the measured drawings from the author's dissertation, together with splendid, newly commissioned photographs by Surendra kumar. During his recent visits to the Badami region to prepare the text for this volume the author has benefited from specialist advice of Dr Sheelakant Pattar and the expert assistance of Chandru Katageri. It is perhaps worth noting at the outset that in spite of their obvious appeal the Early Chalukya temples continue to pose formidable difficulties for researchers, the author being no exception. The overall scarcity of historical data means that the patrons and dates of most monuments belonging to the Period spanning from the end of the 6th to the middle of the 8th centuries remain obscure. This means that the chronology of the temples presented here can only be regarded as tentative. Then there are the diverse styles of the monuments themselves, which in the Badami region present a unique juxtaposition of distinctive Southern and Northern Indian traditions, here referred to as Dravida and Nagara. These even come to intermingle within the same monument, while at the same time blending with local constructional idioms. A further confusion is caused by the names by which the Early Chalukya temples are known today which do not reveal their original cult dedications. The author would also like to point that his coverage of Early Chalukya temples is here restricted to the Badami region and does not include the temples sponsored by these rulers at other sites, such as Alampur in present – day Andhra Pradesh. In spite of these research problems and limitations, the author sincerely bopes that the drawings and photographs presented in this volume will convince readers that the Early Chalukya temples are of outstanding architectural and artistic interest.
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