The Satvahna & Ikshvakus Dynasties
According to history, temple architecture in Andhra Pradesh dates back to the period of 'Satavahana' dynasty. The Satavahanas left behind them many works of art, the remains of which are seen at Amaravati near Guntur. The 'Ikshvakus' succeeded the Satavahanas and the monuments left behind by them were discovered at excavations at Nagarjunakonda.
The Satavahanas and the Ikshvakus have left a great legacy in the field of architecture. Amaravati and Bhatiprolu in Guntur for the stupas and Kondepur in Medak and Nagarjuna Konda of the 'Chaityas' and 'Sankaram' near Vishakhapatnam for the 'viharas' are some of the illustrative work of that era.
The Rock-Cut Temples
In the subsequent era of 'Salankhyanas' and 'Vishnukundies', rock architecture thrived. The caves at Mogalrajpuram near Vijayawada and Undavalli in Guntur and the rock-cut temples at Bhairavakonda near Udayagiri in Nellore, stand as a witness to this form of architecture of that period.
The Eastern Chalukyas developed temple architecture in coastal Andhra Pradesh. Three prominent styles of architecture, namely, 'Nagara', 'Vesara' and 'Dravida' flourished during their period. An Amalaka 'sikhara' and a curvilinear tower were the marks of perfection in Vesara style. They constructed a number of temples and the most important of them were the temples of Amaravati, Draksharama, Bhimavaram, Samalkot and Chebrolu.
The Dravidian Style
The temples at Bikkavolu represent the Dravidian style of architecture. Under the 'Pallavas', Dravidian style made great progress. The 'Cholas' introduced some new elements and the Eastern Gangas introduced the 'Kalinga' style, as seen in Mukhalingeshwara and Saripalle temples in Vishakhapatnam.
During the rule of the 'Rashtrakutas', an aggressive religious spirit pervaded the territory and the Buddhist viharas were converted into temples and new ones were built on a grand scale. Some are in the Dravidian style and some are in the 'Kadamba Nagara' style.
The Western 'Chalukyas' of Kalyana were fond of architecture, and the majority of the temples constructed by them exhibit a happy blend of the north and the south Indian styles. In this connection, the temples at Alampur in Mahbubnagar district deserve mention. At Panagal also, the Chalukyas erected a temple. The temples of this period represented the Nagara style.
The 'Kakatiyas' contributed a lot to the architecture in the form of 1000-pillared temple and the 'Nandi' pavilion in Hanamakonda. The shrine at Pangal and the Ramappa temple at Palampet, stand as a testimony to the expertise of architects of that period.
The North Eastern region of Andhra Pradesh was under the rule of the Ganga Kings of Orissa and the temples of this region show influences of the Orissan style of architecture. The temples at Simhachalam, Srikurmam and Arasavilli are the typical examples and depict both Deccan and Orissan architectural features .
The Vijaynagara Style
The Vijayanagar Empire caused a number of monuments to be built and patronized in the State. The most striking characteristic is the design of the pillar shaft decorated with rearing horses and rampant hippogriffs. Many new adjuncts like shrines and halls were added.
The Vijayanagara architecture fused various elements of the Chalukya and Chola art, and produced extremely beautiful 'gopuras' and 'mandapas'. The most typical of them can be found at Tirupati , Tadpatri, Srikalahasti and Penukonda. The two temples at Tadpatri represent the Vijayanagara style. The Srisailam temple and the ornate Lepakshi temples in Anantapur district and Somapalayam in Chittoor district are also of Vijayanagara times.
Thus, the temples that line the length and breadth of the State stand in silent acknowledgement of centuries of history and the patronage of various kingdoms such as the Satavahanas, Ikshvakus, Cholas and Pallavas of Tamil Nadu , the Chalukyas of Deccan, the Kakatiyas, the Eastern Gangas and the Vijayanagar Kings.