Situated on the outskirts of Badami in the tiny village of Mahakuta, the Mahakuta group of temples are an architectural delight, mirroring the unique rock-cut construction pattern of the Chalukyas seen across Badami. The collection of shrines here were built in the 7th century, devoted to Lord Shiva, of which the Mahakuteshwara temple is the largest. These temples combine the ancient architectural elements of the Dravidian and Nagara styles, as is seen at the various temples of this region.
The Dravida style temples here have a tiered tower over the shrine, capped with a dome-like structure. The adjacent Nagara style temples employ the use of a curvilinear tower over a shrine, built on a square plan and capped by an elaborately ribbed stone. Within the complex is a large tank that is fed by a natural mountain spring, called the Vishnu Pushkarni, or the Papavinasha Tirtha. It is believed that a dip in these waters washes away all the sins of a person, and many locals and tourists can be seen enjoying a leisurely bath here. The centre of the tank houses a small shrine with a Shivalinga. This is called Panchamukha linga, with one face carved in each direction and one on top.
Apart from its religious significance, intricate design and fascinating architecture, this temple cluster is also important to historians due to two 7th century inscriptions found here. The Mahakuta Pillar inscription records the achievements and the military expeditions of the Chalukyas. The inscription seen on the porch is said to be from Vinapoti, a concubine of King Vikramaditya, detailing the offering of silver and rubies made to Lord Shiva. The walls of the temples are adorned with carvings of various religious figures.
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