Aihole is a small village in Karnataka located about 500km away from Bangalore. The small town is known for the temple complex which is famous for its Chalukyan architecture and has a hundred of different stone temples built in the 5th Century. Aihole is known for its vast array of temples that have accumulated a cult status for being architecturally rich and historically diverse. Let us look at the top 7 places to visit in Aihole–
1. Durga Temple
The Durga Temple is a magnificent example of Dravidian architecture. It was said to be built in the 7th century. It is often misunderstood to have derived its name from Goddess Durga, it was actually called so because of its proximity to a Drug or a fort. The huge cylindrical stone structure has pillars all over its periphery and intricate wall carvings adorn the walls. The temple is a beautiful structure worth a visit while in Aihole.
2. The Lad Khan Temple
The Lad Khan Temple is the one of the oldest temples in Aihole. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and was named after a Muslim prince. The Chalukyas built this temple in a different style as compared to the other temple as it followed the Panchayat hall style of architecture. It isn’t the typical temple and has numerous layers of stone carvings and structures. The Lad Khan temple is a beautiful gem situated under the vast open sky and when visited, transports one to the ancient time when it was built.
3. The Ravanapadhi Cave Temple
Dedicated to lord Shiva, Ravanapadhi Cave Temple has been carved out of sandstone outcrop and has been preserved. It is one of the most famous rock-cut temples of India. The cave itself is situated on a high platform and can be reached by climbing stairs. Intricately carved columns, pillars and walls show stories of deities and Gods. It is said to have been built in 550 AD. The interiors are even more delicately carved and present a beautiful picturization of mythology and folklore.
Right next to the Ravalaphadi is the group of temples called Jyothirlinga group. Two of the temples here have flat roofs and the remaining ones have inner sanctums and front halls. The temples have towers and inscriptions of the Chalukya period. The entire temples complex has some temple sin ruins and some in preserved conditions all of which date back to the 8th– 10th centuries.
5. Meguti Jain Temple
Meguti Jain Temple is situated on a hillock that was said to have been built in the year 643. The temple is on a raised platform and has pillars and towers. One pillared Mukhamantapa is big tower that has a flight to stairs leading up to it. From the roof of the temple, one can see the entire view of temples around. The inscriptions are valued historically as they were the first mentions of many seers like Kalidasa and Bharavi.
There are a couple of Buddhist are temples on the way to the Meguti temple as well which are a brilliant pit-stop before discovering the main temple complex.
6. Galaganatha Group of Temples
The Galaganatha temple complex is home to about 30 temples situated on the banks of the Malaprabha river. The main shrine is for Lord Shiva and the temples have images of Ganga and Yamuna in its entrance. The entire complex was said to have been built in the 8th century. There is a total of 38 shrines within this complex!
7. Huchappayyagudi Temple
Another great temple complex is that of the 8th Century and located on the way to the Malapranha river. The interiors of the temple have wall carvings and an image of Nataraja on the ceiling. It is just one many temple complexes that have offer a glimpse into the rich history that the town holds.
Aihole was the capital of the Chalukya kings and is home to about more than 125 temples. This list is hardly doing any justice to the numerous other temples complexes that Aihole has and are waiting to be explored. The small city has been called the cradle of temple architecture and is one of the best places for exploring ruins and relics from Ancient India. Pay a visit to Aihole to relive the Chalukyan times!
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