Nov 23, 2013

What to see in Aihole?

Aihole occupies a unique place in the history of temple architecture, many call it as the cradle of temple architecture. Early Chalukyan kings (450 - 750 CE) tried and tested various designs and temple building technology. Today in Aihole there are more than 120 temples, divided into 22 groups by the archaeological department. Aihole is situated on the right bank of river Malaprabha (major tributary of river Krishna) in Bagalkot district, Karnataka.

Durga temple and Aihole fort
Ravalaphadi and Prehistoric burial chamber
Aihole's history goes back to prehistoric times, its original name 'Ayyavole' has a legendary connection; the name is associated with the story of Parashurama slaying the entire Kshatriya race with his axe. It is said that Parashurama washed his bloodied axe in Malaprabha turning the river's water red. At that time few women from the village had come to the river to take water; at the sight of red water they all shouted 'Ayya Holi!' meaning 'Oh the river!'. Hence the place came to be known as Ayyahole ~ Aihole. As per inscriptions Aihole was also known by the name Aryapura.

Aihole's prehistoric connection is strong; it is a part of a huge prehistoric site covering hills and valleys between Badami - Pattadakal - Aihole. The sandstone hillock to the east of Aihole has plenty of evidence of prehistoric activity; rock paintings, stone circle and megalithic burial chambers have been found here and they can be seen to this day. Also archaeologists have found stone implements dating back to Neolithic period in Malaprabha riverbed.

Here's a map showing the known monuments of Aihole.

Zooming into village Aihole

Here's a list of temples, while most are groups of temples some are individual temples. (click on hyper-links to see details).
  1. Durga temple complex and Archaeological museum
  2. Ambigyar temple complex
  3. Rachi temple
  4. Veniyar or Eniyar temple
  5. Huchappayyana Matha
  6. Kunti Gudi complex
  7. Charantimath complex
  8. Tryambakeshwara temple complex
  9. Gowri temple
  10. Chikki temple
  11. Tarabasappa temple complex
  12. Hucchimalli temple complex
  13. Ravanaphadi rock-cut temple
  14. Jyotirlinga temple complex
  15. Mallikarjuna temple complex
  16. Buddhist Charityalaya
  17. Meguti temple and fort
  18. Boyar Gudi
  19. Ancient quarry site
  20. Rock-cut Jain Basadi
  21. Prehistroic burial chambers and Prehistoric rock art
  22. Galaganatha temple complex
  23. Ramlingeshwara temple complex
  24. Jaina temple
  25. Ruins of Aihole fort
  26. Cairns or Stone Circles
Looking beyond Aihole, on the surrounding hills are several prehistoric sites, forts, temples and ancient quarries. Some noteworthy places close to Aihole are-
  1. Maliyavvana Gudi
  2. Akkargal fort
  3. Shankarlingeshwara Gudi at Motar Maradi
  4. Ancient sandstone quarry at Motar Maradi
  5. Siddanakolla (also known as Siddhankal)
  6. Haalsiddeshwara fort
PS: A day is not enough to see everything in Aihole. Perhaps in two days you can rush through the place. Aihole is still a simple little villages, no restaurants or hotels. There are few small eateries and shops selling packaged snacks, bottled water and soft-drinks. All monuments are open from 6 AM to 6 PM. Archaeological museum is open from 9 AM  to 5 PM Saturday to Thursday and closed on Fridays. Nearest hotel is 44 kms away at Badami.

1 comment:

Renuka said...

Gorgeous temples! Rajasthan also has some of the most beautiful temples.