Referred as the ‘Cradle of Indian rock architecture’; Aihole is located on the banks of Malaprabha river in Bagalkot district of Karnataka. Built during the Chalukya dynasty rule, the village has 125 temples. The temples, built in ancient rock cut architecture style, reflect Jain and Buddhit styles of architecture.
These temples are divided into 22 groups by archaeological department. According to legends, Aihole was the place where Parshuram (incarnation of Lord Vishu) cleaned his axe after annihilating the Kshatriyas.
Aihole was known as Aryapura. It was the first capital of the Chalukya dynasty. Later the capital was moved to Badami, which was also known as Vatapi.
Chalukya dynasty built temples in several designs. It was in Aihole that they experimented with rock cut architecture. Aihole is, hence, also considered as the ‘laboratory of Chalukya architecture’. After gaining experience in Aihole, the dynasty built numerous temples in Pattadakal.
The temples in Aihole were built in different stages. The temples built in the first stage date back to the 6th century CE, while the second stage temples were built in 12th century CE.
There are several inscriptions in the temple, some dating back to 643 CE. The inscriptions are written in Sanskrit and archaic Kannada. The inscriptions describe the achievements and victory of Pulakesi II over Harshavardhana.
Majority of the temples were built by Pulakesi II who was inspired by Jainism which explains the influence of Jain architectural style. There are some temples with Buddhist architectural style too.
The artisans worked on the rocks and mixed neighbouring architecture style to create the Chalukya style of architecture. One can witness curved towers with blind arches and plastered walls with panel inserts which represents north and south Indian architectural style respectively. One can also find the usage of Deccan architectural style in balcony, sloops and roofs of the temples.
Among the prominent temples are the Kontigudi group and the Galaganatha group of temples. The Kontigudi group of temples is a set of three temples, which include the Lad Khan temple, Huchiappayyagudi temple and the Huchiappayya math. The Galaganatha group of temples consists of 30 shrines on the banks of Malaprabha river. The Lad Khan temple is the oldest one, dating back to the 5th century.
Chalukyas built shrines and caves in Pattadakal and Badami too.
Apart from temple, one can also find Ilkal, the traditional handloom and silk saris and Khadi
outfits. One can find handicrafts of elephants, gods and goddesses made from sandal wood. Metal carvings and stone carvings of gods and goddess are favourite with the tourists.
WHERE TO STAY
There are very few accommodation options at Aihole. You can find budget hotels with basic facilities. There is also a state-run KSTDC tourist rest house. Badami has better accommodation options.
WHERE TO EAT
Eating options are limited in Aihole. Most of the restaurants offer only vegetarian cuisine. South Indian cuisine is predominantly served in restaurants.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit Aihole is between October and March. During these months the climate remains pleasant.
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Badami is as given below. The best time to visit Badami is also specified.