Aihoḷe is a village having a historic temple complex in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka, India and located 510 km from Bangalore. It is known for Chalukyan architecture, with about 125 stone temples dating from 5th century CE, and is a popular tourist spot in north Karnataka. Aihole has historical significance and is called the 'cradle of Hindu rock architecture' (cradle of Indian architecture). Aihoḷe was earlier known as Ayyavoḷe and Aryapura in its inscriptions.It was established in 450 CE as first capital of Chalukya kings and has about 125 stone temples, some which were constructed as experimental structures by artisans of Chalukyan period.A place known by as Morera Angadigalu near the Meguti hillocks has a large number of cysts of pre-historic period. The place was an agraharam. Aihoḷe has been described as a cradle of temple architecture. Some brick structures of pre-Chalukyan times have also been excavated in this village. Pulakeshin 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 fifth–sixth century,the second phase up to the 12th century CE.
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 mukhamantapa and the sabhamantapa. All through the temple, there are beautiful carvings. The temple appears to be of the late 7th or early 8th century.
Durga Temle architecture [above pic]
Lad Khan Temple consists of a shrine with two mantapas in front of it. The shrine bears a Shiva lingam. The mukha mantapa in front of the sanctum has a set of 12 carved pillars. The sabhamantapa in front of the mukha mantapa 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 by the Chalukya kings in the 5th century. Ladkhan Temple is to the south of the Durga temple are the temples of this group. The Ladkhan temple, so named, as a general of the name had lived here, consists of a square mantapa, a mukha mantapa and the sanctum, built against the backwall. The west, south and north walls have beautifully carved stone lattices. On the lintel of the sanctum is a garuda image and in the shrine a Shivalinga. The central square has a flat roof. In the centre Nandi is installed, and just above Nandi, there is a damaged nagara shikhara, appearing to be a later addition. The period of this structure is about 450 A.D.
Ravana Phadi cave is one of the oldest rock cut temples in Aihole; it is southeast of Hucchimalli temple. This temple dates back to the 6th century, with a rectangular shrine, with two mantapas. There is a Shivalinga in the inner room or sanctum sanctorum. 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. The walls and sides of the temple are covered with large figures including dancing Shiva. Ravalphadi Vedic rock-cut shrine is the most famous of the three rock-cut shrines at Aihole, located to the south-east of Huchimalli group of temples, dedicated to Shiva. Assigned to the sixth century, this rock-cut shrine has a fine figure of Nataraja dancing, surrounded by Saptamatrikas, all engraved in bold relief and in elegant styles.
Ravana Phadi cave interior [above pic]
Huchimalli Gudi temple at Aihole, built in the 7th century shows an evolution in the temple plan, as it shows an ardhamantapa or an ante-chamber annexed to the main shrine. Huchimalli Group Of Temples, to the north of the village behind the travelers’ bungalow is this beautiful temple. The sanctum here has a pradakshinapatha and its external walls contain lattices. The sanctum has a northern style rekhanagara tower. It is in this temple the shukanasa or the vestibule was introduced for the first time. A little away in front is another dilapidated temple. Another small temple to the north of Huchimalligudi is assigned to the 11th century.
Mallikarjuna temple complex [above pic]
Mallikarjuna temple complex Pond [above pic]
Galaganatha group of monuments [above pic]
Jaina and buddha cave temples is at the entrance of the Aihole (from Pattadakal/Badami) on the banks of Mallaprabha river; it is similar to Ravana Phadi cave. There are inscriptions on rock in old Kannada near the cave.
Jain Basadi Temple [above pic]
Jain Basadi temple entrance [above pic]
Beautiful view of Aihole village from Jain cave temple.