Ideal Duration: 1-2 Days
Nearest Airport: Goa International Airport - 230 kms from Aihole
Nearest Railway: Bagalkot
Best Time to Visit: October to March
Home to over 125 beautiful Chalukyan temples and monuments, Houses one of the finest historical sites in Bagalkot, Karnataka. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and is surrounded by marvelous sandstone hills and villages on the banks of the Malaprabha River. It was formerly the capital of the Chalukya Dynasty with over 100 Hindu and Jain temples dating back to around the 6th to 12th centuries. Today, Aihole may be a prominent center for temple architecture and complex stonework.
Aihole furthermore called as Aryapura, Aivalli, or Ahivolal. Aihole is popular historic site of ancient and medieval era. Monuments Related to Buddhism, Hindu and Jains here are dated from the 4th century through the 12th century Common Era. It is Located around an small village covered by farmlands and sandstone hills, It is a major archaeological site promoting over 120 different kinds of stone & cave temples from the earlier period, it has distributed across the Malaprabha river valley in Bagalakote district and spread over about five square kilometres
Aihole is about 35 km from Badami and 9.7 km from the famous Pattadakal; these places are important centres of historically major Chalukyas monuments. These places are Showcasing monuments, temple architecture, stone artwork, and construction techniques since 6th century. Over Hundreds of temples in Aihole are related to Hinduism, and some of are of Jainism and Buddhism. These temples are built and co-existed in near proximity. The Hindu temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Goddess Durga, Suryadeva (Sun) & other Hindu supreme being. Jain Basadi temples are custom built to Mahaveera, Parshvanatha and Neminatha & for other Jaina Tirthankaras and finally the Buddhist monument is a monastery. Both Hindu and Jain monuments contain monasteries consisting of social utilities like Step well water tanks with cleanly carved artistic carvings near all the major temples.
Lord Parasuram, after taking vengeance for the death of his father, came down to the river side of Malaprabha & washed his blood-stained hands and the battle axe, then the blood and butchery on the axe turned the river red. A woman saw this and screamed Ayyo Hole in Kannada, hence it has got the name Aihole and also refers as Ayyavole and Aryapura in its inscriptions & Hindu texts dated around the ages 4th to 12th century Common Era.
Soon after the Chalukyas ruling, this region became a division of the Rashtrakutas kingdom. In the 12th century the Western Chalukyas Empire & Chalukyas of Kalyani gained back and ruled over this region, then new temples of Hinduism and monasteries of Jainism & Buddhism continued to be built in the region based on sever inscriptional, textual and methodology evidence.
At the 13th century and onwards, Malaprabha valley alongside with Deccan became an objective of raids by the Delhi Sultan armies devastating the region. Although, this region witnessed a set of wars between Vijayanagara kings & Bahmani sultans; anyhow the monuments at Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal showcases the existence and a rich history of interaction between the early northern and southern style of Hindus arts.
Aihole became a notable archaeological site and it has been identified by British India officials & published their observations and also identified a historically significant 7th-century inscriptions. For a while like around much of the 20th-century, Aihole remained a neglected site then Until the 1990s the site consists places of residence, sheds build-ups and in some cases they extended it into the historical monuments. Some walls of the ancient and medieval temples were adopted by some of these homes. The hollow out ancient & medieval era artefacts including broken temple pieces and an uncut life size of nude Lajja Gowri in birthing position with a lotus head resides at an ASI museum can be seen next to Durga temple in Aihole. Aihole site & artwork are major source of real evidence and relative studies of Indian religions, art and history.
The regional artists & architects of Aihole constructed prototypes of 16 types of free-standing temples and 4 types of rock-cut shrines to demonstrate the theology of Hinduism using stones. However there is a Scattering of Jains monument in Aihole, but the temples and relief artworks are primarily Hindu.
Temples at Aihole experimented with two architectural layouts Sandhara and Nirandhara. In terms of towers above the holy of holies they have explored & showcased several superstructures like Shikhara, Mundamala, Rekhaprasada, Dravidian vimana & Kadamba-chalukyan fusion styled shikhara. The architectural layouts generally followed squares and rectangles but the Aihole artists also made an attempt for prototypes of layout like a Buddhist or Church hall. In addition, they experimented with layout of mantapa and the pillars with different types of windows to allow light in, & there were artwork on mouldings & pillars, brackets designs and ceilings. In some temples they connected subsidiary shrines such as Nandi and a wall and styles of gateway.
Durga temple is the most popular of the Aihole temples. According to one theory, it stands near the ruins of a fort-like enclosure during a time of late medieval era Hindu Muslim conflict in the region. According to another local tradition, a stone rubble enclosure & lookout was assembled on its flat roof and locals therefore began calling it the Durga temple. The temple was originally dedicated to Hindu gods Surya and Vishnu. The temple was dated by early scholars to the 5th century & late 6th and early 8th century Common Eras. Architectural shapes are similar to the 2nd or 1st century BCE Buddhist Chaitya halls found in Ajanta Caves.
The temple stands on a elevated moulded adisthana & a damaged tower which as curvilinear shape called shikhara and another damaged tower's amalaka crown can be seen at the ground. The Mukha mantapa which is a main hall & the Sabha mantapa a for community hall for functions showcases intricate carvings. The Durga temple mainly displays gods and goddesses from the traditions of Hinduism. It includes life-size statues of Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Harihara, Also statues like Goddess Durga in Mahishasura Mardini form killing the buffalo demon, Ganga and Yamuna goddess related inscriptions can be found here. The temple has sculptured horizontal to explain the story of the Ramayana & Mahabharata.
Lad Khan Temple
The Lad Khan Temple is dedicated to lord Shiva. It is one of the oldest Hindu temples in Aihole. It was constructed in the 5th century by kings of the Chalukya dynasty. It is situated to the south of the Durga temple. Lad Khan temple is named after a guy called Lad khan because he turned this temple into his place for accommodation for a certain period.
Ravana Phadi is the oldest rock cut cave temples located at Aihole; it is just a kilometre away from the Durga temple. The temple dates to the early 6th century. The entrance has a wear out fluted pillar and seated Nandi facing the temples alter with several small monuments. Inside the cave are 3 near square mantapas, the innermost highlights the Shivalinga and connected to the entrance mantapa.
Hucchappayya Matha and Gudi
Huchappayya matha is about a kilometre to south the Durga temple on the alternative side of the Aihole, proportionately isolated from other temple clusters. The Hucchappayya matha faces east towards the sunrise. It consists of 2 Hindu monuments; at the front are a Huge Shiva temple & another monastery which is no longer in use. The temple is completely walled on all the sides with stone and steps leading into a doorway of the mantapa.
The temple is well known for its complicated pillar carvings both in the opening and inside; the artwork is also present on the temple’s inner walls & ceiling. The carvings show religious themes showcasing Lord Vishnu's avatar, Narasimha & Nataraja on wall, as well as the daily life of the people featured individuals in Namaste posture. At Outside there is a slab carved with Saptamatrikas the seven mothers of the Shaktism in Hindu tradition. Inscriptions in old Kannada can be found on the pillars inside the Hucchappayya Gudi main hall. Hucchappayya Gudi dates to Early Chalukyas period between 6th-7th centuries.
Ambigergudi group is an archaeologically significant complex situated to west of the Durga temple and it is near to entrance ticket office. It showcases of three monuments, all arrange in line to the east-west and among those the middle monument is demonstrates with an open veranda design concept with flat roof cover. The sacred place is inside, and it contains a damaged Lord Suryadeva (The Sun god) image with crown can be noticed here. The structure & layout features the Hindu temple but it is damaged, the image inside the holy place is missing and the lost face, nose and limbs of most of the complicated carvings on the walls are ruined. The Dravidian design stands out above the sacred walls, with repeated resonating tower structure as it rise towards up.
Jyotirlinga group of temples consists of 16 Hindu monuments including a huge step well water utility tank. It is situated to the east of the Durga temple & to the Ravanaphadi cave right above it. These temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva along with small monuments to moderate size. The complex encases much many ruins, except for the Nandi mantapas & standing pillars inside. The temples some intensively carved but damaged images of Lord Ganesha, Karthikeya, Goddess Parwathi and Ardhanarishvara the half Shiva & half of goddess Parwathi). The temples here are credited to Early Chalukyas & Rashtrakutas dynasties.
Mallikarjuna temple consists of five Hindu monuments. Primary temple in this set of temples is dated to the Old Chalukyas period around 700 Common Era. For temple tower, the designers experimented it with square mouldings which are concentrically as it tends high towards the sky. Outer walls of Mallikarjuna temples have natural and clean surfaces. Inside walls of Lord Shiva temple are carved complex with religious composition.
Ramalingeshvara temples are a set of 5 Hindu temples located on the banks of the Malaprabha River & it is 2.5 kilometres south from the Durga temple even they are very close to the Veniyar and Galaganatha monument groups. Ramalingeshvara temple is a functional Shiva worship complex. Temple entrance has a New-fashioned wooden chariot with old stone wheels used for processions. The entrance portal has a Lord Shiva Nataraja & 2 lion carvings, while the main temple consists of three Sanctums that attached with a familiar mantapa and is covered with a flat stone roof.
Veniyar shrines complex
Veniyar shrines are groups of 10 Hindu temples & are near to the Malaprabha river bank and close to the Ramalinga temple. These Temples showcases early ruins with major damage along with thick forest growth over them. Later the Archaeological Survey of India evacuated & recovered the area. The hall features two fused squares with the door frame to the holy place which has tiny carvings & the temple has some small-scaled carvings.
Galaganatha is a large group of over 30 medieval Hindu temples and monuments. It is located about 2.5 kilometres south to the ASI museum complex & it is very near the Malaprabha River. These set of temples are dated between 7th and 12th centuries. Temples here are in ruins with marks of intentional damage, but the residue left over has significant details of artwork. The main arch pillar of the Galaganatha complex is dedicated to Lord Shiva, but you can notice the artwork integrated in mantapas dedicated to Lord Brahma, Vishnu & Durga. Several of its artwork has been moved to a Mumbai museum. This main temple has a Kadamba-Nagara fashioned pyramidal shikhara.
Maddin temples group
The Maddin consists of 4 Hindu temples & it is situated at the heart of the village along with some homes and sheds. Temple features a Nataraja the dancing Shiva holding a damaruga in his right hand & trishula in left hand. The temple displays different kinds of pillar designs along the main mantapa which is supported by the four other pillars constructed of stone, a greenish coloured stone which was imported from somewhere else and the artists here in Aihole polished, moulded and then lathe-turned it complicatedly in a similar manner to Hoyasala designs. Near him is a precisely carved lion & from a distance facing the Shivalinga is Nandi.
Triyambakeshvara Temples Group
Triyambakeshvara group has 5 Hindu temples located within the village. This Holy Place is dedicated to Shivalinga and a size Nandi sits facing the middle of the temple which is inside the shrine. The pilgrimage is carved Goddess Lakshmi with two elephants spraying water.
Konti - gudi group
Konti group of monuments which is also well known as the Konti-gudi group of temples which consists of 4 Hindu temples. They are located in the middle of a market street with temple walls along the houses & sheds. These Monuments dates to the 6th century Common Era. The temple features a veranda and Garbha Gudi without surrounding walls. The main temple is a mantapa with sculpture of Vaishnavism, Shaivism & Shaktism heritage.
Aihole consists of both Buddhist and Jain monuments located near Meguti hill featuring a 2 storied temple located few steps below the crest of the Meguti hill. At front of the temple you can notice a damaged Buddha statue which is one without a head. The two stages of the temple are open & feature 4 fully constructed square pillars and 2 partial based pillars on two side walls and Each pair of pillar goes straight into the hill to showcase a small monastery & The doorway to lower level chamber is intricately designed. This 2 storied temple is dated to late the 6th-century Common Era. So Aihole conserves 4 collections of about 10 Jain monuments from the 6th-12th century Common Era which is associated with the Mina Basadi or Meera Basadi. These monuments co-exist with the Buddhist & Hindu monuments. Jain cave temple is situated to the south of Aihole on the Meguti hill, Its outside is plain but the cave is complicatedly decorated inside along with the carvings like lotus petals decorations, even they carry symbolic Jain motifs such as the giant makaras spitting out tiny humans. There is another batch of Jain monuments located at Yoginarayana group which is near the Gowri temple, It Features 4 Jain temples dedicated to the Mahaveera & Parshvanatha. And the Charanthi matha group showcases 3 Jain temples which is dated to the 12th century Common Era and features the Late Chalukyas artistic style.
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