Aihole is located near Badami
The village of Aihole (pronunciation: eye-HO-lee) contains over 125 temples from the Early Western Chalukya and later periods (6th – 12th century). Shown here, and on the following pages, are six Early Chalukya examples from the 6th – 8th centuries. The locations of a few other temples are marked with bold x‘s on the map, just to give an idea of the richness of the site.
The architecture of Early Western Chalukya reflects diverse influences from neighboring areas. For example, as the Blue Guide (p. 331) explains, curved towers decorated with blind arches are found in central and western India; pilastered walls with panel inserts are a southern Indian style; while the Deccan style includes balcony seating, angled eaves and sloping roofs, and elaborately carved columns and ceilings. Readers can find, in the following pages, many examples of mixed styles, often on the same temple. For example, in the following temple (photo), the left hall is Dravidian (s. India); the middle hall is Rashtrakutan; and the tower is Deccan.
By way of showing the unity within this diversity, Huntington (p.337) identifies some typical features of Early Western Chalukyan architecture. These include mortarless assembly, an emphasis on length rather than width or height, flat roofs, richly carved ceilings, and, sculpturally, an emphasis on relatively few major figures, which tend to be isolated from each other rather than arranged in crowded groups. The aesthetic sensibility of sculpture from this period also seems to retain a certain “classical” quality – the term, by the way, is currently out of fashion – whose impulse does not carry over into later periods of Indian art.
Aihole is located near Badami in the state of Karnataka. The names of the temples are based on recent usage, and do not reflect their original dedications.
Famous as the “Cradle of Indian Architecture”, Aihole has over a hundred temples scattered around the village. The oldest temple here is, perhaps, the Lad Khan temple dating back to the 5th Century. The Durga (Fort) Temple is notable for its semi-circular apse, elevated plinth and the gallery that encircles the sanctum. The Hutchimalli Temple out in the village – has a sculpture of Vishnu sitting atop a large cobra.
The Revalphadi Cave – dedicated to Shiva – is remarkable for its delicate details.
Not to be missed is the Konthi Temple Complex (Kwanthi Gudi), the Uma Maheswari Temple with a beautifully carved Brahma seated on a lotus, the austere Jain Meguti Temple and the two storeyed Buddhist Temple.
Rail: The nearest railway station is Begalkot.
Road: Aihole is connected by road to Pattadakal, Badami, Bangalore
- Tourist Rest House
Aihole, Hungund Taluk
- Tourist Rest Houses of Tourism Department
Temples of Karnataka
Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal near Bijapur in Karnataka are centers of Early Chalukyan art. Badami is located at a distance of about 500 km from Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka and is well connected by road
Aihole was the first capital of the early Chalukyas. Aihole is to the west of Badami, along the Malaprabha river, while Pattadakal is to the east. Pulakesi I, one of the greatest rulers of this dynasty, moved the capital to Badami nearby. Badami was then known as Vatapi.
The first phase of temple building in Aihole dates back to the 6th century CE, the second phase to the 12th century.
The Ravanaphadi temple is a rock cut temple, with a rectangular shrine, with two mandapams in front of it and a rock cut Shivalingam. This temple dates back to the second half of the 7th century.
The prominent temple groups here are the Kontigudi group and the Galaganatha group.
A group of three temples is referred to as the Kontigudi group of temples. One of these is the Lad Khan temple, named after a mendicant that lived in this temple in the 19th century , another the Huchiappayyagudi temple and the Huchiappayya math.
The Lad Khan temple consists of a shrine with two mandapams in front of it. The shrine bears a Shiva lingam. The mukha mandapa in front of the sanctum has a set of 12 carved pillars. The sabhamandapa in front of the mukha mandapam has pillars arranged in such a manner as to form two concentric squares. There are also stone grids on the wall carrying floral designs.
The Huchappayyagudi temple has a curvilinear tower (shikhara) over the sanctum (unlike the Lad Khan temple). The interior of the temple has beautiful carvings.
The Galaganatha group is one of nearly 30 temples on the bank of the river Malaprabha. The main shrine of the Galaganatha temple enshrining Shiva – Galaganatha has a curvilinear shikhara, and has images of Ganga and Yamuna at the entrance to ths shrine.
The Huchimalligudi temple at Aihole, built in the 8th century shows an evolution in the temple plan, as it shows an ardhamandapam or an ante-chamber annexed to the main shrine.
The best known of the Aihole temples is the photogenic Durga or the fortress temple. It is apsidal in plan, along the lines of a Buddhist chaitya, a high moulded adisthana and a tower – curvilinear shikhara. A pillared corridor runs around the temple, enveloping the shrine, the mukhamandapa and the sabhamandapa. All through the temple, there are beautiful carvings.
The Meguti Jain temple stands on a hillock. The temple sits on a raised platform, and a flight of steps leads one to the mukhamandapa. The pillared mukhamandapa is a large one. A flight of stairs leads to another shrine on the roof, directly above the main shrine. From the roof, one can have a panoramic view of the plain with a hundred temples or so.
From a historic standpoint, the Meguti temple has an inscription on its foundation stating that it was built in the year 634 CE. This inscription also contains a reference to the poet Kalidasa.
Once the capital of the early Chalukyan dynasty (6th to 8th centuries), Aihole is a picturesque village on the banks of the Malaprabha river. Variously called Ayyavole & Aryapura in the inscriptions, Aihole is historically famous as the cradle of Hindu temple architecture. There are about 125 temples divided into 22 groups scattered all over the villages and nearby fields. Most of these temples were built between the 6th & 8th centuries and some even earlier
Only mere traces of a fort dating from the 6th century can be seen today. A large number of prehistoric sites have been found in Morera Angadigalu, near the Meguti hillocks in Aihole. Excavations near some temples have yielded traces of antique pottery and bases of structures constructed with bricks of pre-Chalukyan times. More temples are being excavated every day bearing witness to the vigorous experimentation on temple architecture which went on at Aihole more than 14 centuries ago..
The temple derives its name from Durgadagudi meaning ‘temple near the fort’. Dedicated to Vishnu, the temple appears to be a Hindu adaptation of the Buddhist chaitya (hall) with its apsidal end. Standing on a high platform with a ‘rekhanagara’ type of Shikhara, it is the most elaborately decorated monument in Aihole. The columns at the entrance and within the porch are carved with figures and ornamental relief’s. The temple appears to be a late 7th or early 8th century construction.
Ladh Khan Temple
The experimental nature of temple building by the Chalukyas is best elaborated in the Ladh Khan Temple, located south of the Durga Temple. Not knowing how to build a temple, they built it in the Panchayat hall style. The windows were filled up with lattice work in the northern style and the sanctum was added later on. The sanctum is built against the back wall and the main shrine has a Shivalinga along with a Nandi. Above the center of the hall, facing the sanctum, is a second smaller sanctum with images carved on the outer walls. The temple, built about 450 AD, gets its name from a Muslim prince who converted it into his residence.
The only dated monument in Aihole, the Meguti Temple was built atop a small hill in 634 AD. Now partly in ruins, possibly never completed, this temple provides an important evidence of the early development of the Dravidian style of Architecture. The inscription dating the monument is found on one of the outer walls of the temple and records its construction by Ravikeerti, who was a commander & minister of Pulakesin II. Apparently a Jain Temple as seen from the seated Jain figure here, the superstructure rising above the sanctum wall of the temple is not original & the 16-columns porch and hall extension are later additions
Located south-east of the Hucchimalli Temple, this rock-cut temple is assigned to the 6th century. The sanctum in there are wall is larger than these in Badami cave temples and it is provided with a vestibule flanked by carved panels, entered through a triple entrance. Despite the variety of images found here, the Mahishasuramardhini, the great Dancing Shiva linga with Ganesha and sapta-matrikas and the linga inside the sanctum an overall Shiva application
This appears to be one of the earliest groups of temples in Aihole, located to the north of village behind the Tourist Home. The sanctum has a northern style “Rekhanagara” tower over it. The vestibule in front of the sanctum was introduced for the first time here.
Close to Ladh Khan Temple & built in the similar lines, the Gowda Temple was dedicated to Bhagavati. Standing on a high molded base and having about 16 fairly plain pillars, this temple was probably built even earlier.
Located to the north-east of Ladh Khan Temple, the sanctum of this temple has a 0.6 meter high icon of Surya along with his two consorts Usha & Sandhaya, being drawn by horses. The temple, dating from the 7th – 8th centuries, has a four pillared inner and a ‘Rekhanagara’ tower over the sanctum.
Konti Group of Temples
Situated in the middle of bazaar, the earliest of these temples was probably built in the 5th century. The first temple has panels of Bramha, Shiva & a reclined Vishnu on the ceiling.
Museum & Art Gallery
A sculpture gallery ismaintained by the Archaeological Survey of India in the Durga Temple compels.
Area 4 sq. Kms. Altitude 593 meter Temperature
Summer 41oC 28oC Winter 31oC 20oC Rainfall 58.4 cms Best Seasons October to March Clothing Summer – Light Cottons
Winters – Light Woolens
Population 2,549 (1981 Census)
No specialty restaurants are available at Aihole. Small tea shops serving snacks can be found. Food can be served by the Tourist Homes at Aihole but on advance notice
Shopping at Aihole
Ilkal (36 Kms) is famous for its traditional handloom, art silk and silk sarees
Cultural Importance of the Town
- Aihole has a Hindu temple in Ramalinga Temple & Muslim Mosque. The Ramalinga Temple situated along the banks of the Malaprabha river has its annual Car Festival in February-March
Ladh Khan Temple
Ravanphadi Caves Temple
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