Aihole is in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka , India. Early inscriptions call this town "Ayyavole" and "Aryapura". Aihole has its own historical significance and is called as cradle of Hindu rock architecture . Many temples and caves of historical importance can be found at Aihole. It is a very popular tourist spot in north Karnataka.
Aihole was the first capital of the early Chalukyas . Here they built over 125 temples in various styles and is said to be a laboratory of experiments in rock cut architecture. 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. It is from these temples that the Chalukyas gained their experience and went on to build the great temples of Pattadakal . The first phase of temple building in Aihole dates back to the 6th century CE, the second phase up to the 12th century CE. Some temples were even built as early as the 5th century CE.
Early Chalukyan Style
The early Chalukyas inherited architectural styles largely from their neighbours to the north and south of their kingdom. Usage of curved towers decorated with blind arches came from northern India. Pilastered walls with panel inserts are a southern Indian style. The usage of Deccan style is in their balcony seating, angled eaves and sloping roofs, and elaborately carved columns and ceilings (George Michell,1997). In short, they artistically brought together the prevailing styles in their neighbourhood to create the Chalukyan style.
Typical features unique to Early Western Chalukyan architecture 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 whose impulse does not carry over into later periods of Indian art (Susan Huntington, 1985).
The prominent temple groups here are the Kontigudi group and the Galaganatha group of temples, although historians have divided all the temples into 22 groups.
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 .
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 temple is built in a Panchayat hall style, indicating a very early experiment in temple construction. The windows are filled with lattice style which is a north Indian style. The temple was built in late 7th or early 8th century.
Huchappayyagudi temple has a curvilinear tower (shikhara) over the sanctum (unlike the Lad Khan temple). The interior of the temple has beautiful carvings.
Huchimalligudi temple at Aihole, built in the 7th century shows an evolution in the temple plan, as it shows an ardhamandapam or an ante-chamber annexed to the main shrine.
The Galaganatha group is one of nearly thirty 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 this shrine.
Durga temple or fortress temple is the best known of the Aihole temples and is very photogenic. 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 temple appears to be of the late 7th or early 8th century.
Meguti Jain temple stands on a hillock. It is the only dated monument built in 634 . 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. The temple which was possibly never completed gives important evidence of early development in dravidian style of architecture. The dated inscription found on the outer wall of the temple records the construction of the temple by Ravikeerthi, a scholar in the court of emperor Pulakeshi II .
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 6th century. Ravanphadi cave is located south-east of Hucchimalli temple. This is a Shaivite cave temple with a sanctum larger than that of the Badami Cave Temples . The sanctum has a vestibule with a triple entrance and has carved pillars.
Gowda temple is built on similar lines as the Ladh Khan temple but earlier. It has sixteen plain pillars and is dedicated to goddess Bhagavathi.
The Museum & Art Gallery is a sculpture gallery maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India in the Durga Temple complex.
Suryanarayana temple has a 0.6 m high statue of Surya along with his consorts Usha and Sandhya being drawn by horses. The temple dates from the 7th or 8th century, has a four pillared inner sanctum and a nagara style tower over it.
502+30 km North West of Bangalore
By Road: -
8 hour and 3 hours by road
Take NH4 to Hubli via Chitradurga, Davangere and Haveri then NH218 to Kulgeri via Navalgund, then Pattadakal.
When to go:-
Between September and February.
KSTDC(bookings and info) Badami House, NR Square, Bangalore Tel: 080-2275869, Fax: 2352626 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org