Aihole has been a part of Hindu mythologies. It has a natural axe-shaped rock on the Malaprabha river bank north of the village, and a rock in the river show a footprint. Parashurama, the sixth Vishnu avatar, is stated in these legends to have washed his axe here after killing abusive Kshatriyas who were exploiting their military powers, giving the land its red color. A 19th-century local tradition believed that rock footprints in the river were those of Parashurama. A place near the Meguti hillocks show evidence of human settlement in prehistoric period. Aihole has historical significance and has been called a cradle of Hindu rock architecture.
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.
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
How to Reach:
1) Belgaum Air Port -> Bagalkot -> Badami 2) Hubli Air Port -> Bagalkot -> Badami
1) (Hubli to Bagalkot) Train Name: UBL SUR PASS Train No:56906 Departure Time 13:00 2) (Bangalore to Bagalkot) Train Name: BASAVA EXPRESS Train No:17307 Departure Time 17:00
1) Hubli To Bagalkot 122.6 km Via NH52 2) Bijapur To Bagalkot 83.8 km via NH52 3) Belgum To Bagalkot 140.5 km via Bachi - Raichur Hwy 4) Bangalore To Bagalkot 529.0 km via NH 48