Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Day in Aihole

After Bijapur, our next destination was the historical heritage triangle of Badami, Aihole and Pattadakkal.
These 3 towns are not very far from each other and these three cities were the capital of the Chalukya dynasty at some point. These three towns house temple complexes and has been declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

AIHOLE: Its the cradle of ancient Hindu temple architecture. It was the first capital of the early Chalukyas. There are around 125 temples. These temples date back to as early as 5th Century. The Chalukya style of architecture is unique and cannot be found anywhere else. One can find usage of curved towers and blind towers and plain walls that is northern Indian style of architecture. Use of southern Indian Deccan style could be found in sloping roofs, elaborate carvings in columns and ceilings. The Chalukyan emperors were followers of Jainism; we can also find Jain temples and the Jain style of architecture as well.

Each temple is different from the other. Craftsmen used this location to experiment different styles with rock cut architecture. Few temples have the Negara style gopuram, few are flat while few of them have slopes. Few of them have elaborate and intricate carvings on pillars and ceilings while few are devoid of any carvings. Each one seems to be out of place and leaves you confused as you cannot define the style of architecture. The temples do not have any specific God as such. The temples are named ad-hoc. The ASI is also confused in identifying these temples.

Durgi temple: This temple seems to have inspired our Parliament building. This temple does not house Goddess Durga but named so because it is close to a compound wall or fort or 'durga'. This temple is dedicated to Vishnu and is a take off on Buddhist chaitya (hall). It stands on a high platform with REKHANAGARA type of shikara (Negara or North Indian style) . It appears to have been built during 7th or 8th century.

The left facade of the temple.

A close up of a carving.

Gowda temple: Dedicated to Goddess Bhagavathi. This temple stands on a high base and has about 16 plain pillars. 

 A complex with an entrance/exit.

Few youngsters capturing the reality on paper

Lad Khan temple : Named because few centuries later a official by name Lad Khan made this temple his home. Its the oldest temple which dates back to 5th century. It was a royal assembly hall and a marriage hall. It has a shrine on its roof. The roof is unlike any other temple; slant and plain.

Meguti Jain temple : Only dated temple - built in 634 AD. Its built atop a small hill and is accessible by steps. This temple gives an evidence of early development of Dravidian style of architecture.

Ravanaphadi cave: Its an oldest rock cut temple; dating back to 6th century. It houses a Shivalinga; its sanctum is larger than the cave temples of Badami. The walls and sides are carved with large figures including a dancing Shiva.

A carving on the ceiling inside the temple.

On one of the walls showing massive carvings. Zoom on it and you can appreciate the rib cage of the Muni.

Huchimalli temple: built in 7th century shows evolution in temple plan. Its built in Negara or North-Indian style.

Next post is on Pattadakkal


  1. Super post. Thanks for taking us through these historical places. I love that Durgi Temple. Very majestic.

  2. Heyyyy, this is your 250th post. Let me be the first one to congratulate you. I am also your blog's number one fan. Waiting for the next 2500 posts.

  3. Bindu, I've read and heard about people going in the time- machine into the future. But your brief notes and photos with sub titles transports one into the past and centuries ago.
    The pics are good as usual and good.

    But let me ask you a question , have you gotten into a different vocation ?

  4. Thanks for taking me on a journey to Aihole, through your eyes and words! :)
    A wonderful picture travelogue! :)

  5. Beautiful pics and a lovely post Bindu... Scene!

  6. Wonderful pictures, loved the tour. Felt, I was inside the temple while viewing the picture of ceiling.

  7. lovely pictures..I always get stuck on them :)

    the guy capturing the reality onto a sheet of you not click his paintings' photo ?

  8. When I worked for a travel and tourism magazine, I had prepared articles about Aihole and Bijapur. While preparing those articles I was actually in an imaginary journey through such wonderful historic places. U are lucky to have been able to pass through these places..

  9. beautiful post
    didnt knew about 125 temples.
    lots of info

  10. we have already discussed about this place like always..and seen the pictures too..awesome clicks..and you have got better :)

    btw, congratulations :)

  11. hey! thats some good info... and nice pictures too....

  12. I admire those youngsters who sit patiently and reproduce what they see on paper.
    I am also in awe of the fact that thses structures were made when techlology was not so advanced.

  13. well documented travelogue. Its odd so different styles of temple architecture so near to one another.

  14. Thanks, I am sure most of us have not been there.
    I am very impressed with Jain Temple.

  15. Hey nice click again ,seems u r smitten by the history / archelogical bug ;) and have now made us smitten too! Sometime you just feel to go back to that era and see exactly how people uesd to live . I just wonder!

  16. Hey nice click again ,seems u r smitten by the history / archelogical bug ;) and have now made us smitten too! Sometime you just feel to go back to that era and see exactly how people uesd to live . I just wonder!

  17. SG,

    Thanks my pleasure. The Durgi temple stands out among the rest.
    And thanks again for noticing my 250. I didnt realize it until I saw your comments :)


    There is this unexpressed joy in going back in time. When there were no sophisticated machines and technologies. When they worked so hard and dedicated to create these masterpieces. They are all long gone but these monuments tell tales of riches and cultures.

    I forget myself amidst these places and wonder how skilled the craftsmen were. Nowadays man struggles so much to just build a 3 storied glass building. These are just out of the world.

    No sir, not a different vocation. I love traveling and I love exploring places and learning new things - be it nature or architecture or anything else the world has to offer. This trip is my third installment in exploring the architecture of olden India.

    You would be interested in these as well


    Thank you. You wont regret if you make a trip there :)


    Thanks pa. Your comments are treasured :)


    Thank you. Wow! thats a compliment.


    Thank you :) No Scribby. I did not click his paintings. Somehow I wanted to capture him and his mood :)


    Thank you


    Wow! How could you imagine them? They are way too splendid. I am lucky yes.


    Thanks a lot. Each house have a temple behind their courtyard as if its so normal. Such is the riches.


    Thank you :)


    Welcome to B Log :) Thanks, glad you liked them


    Yup! It was nice to see them with such enthusiasm.
    Exactly! they were far more advanced in their concepts of architecture and physics when they made these structures

    Holy Lama,

    Thank you. Yes, Its unique as well. No where in the world would you find such dramatically different styles.

    Chowla sir,

    Thanks. Yes I guess so. You should visit when you get a chance.


    Thanks neha. Glad you liked them. Hahaha sort of. I visit such places whenever I get a chance and this is not my first.

  18. 125 temples ! Thats quite a lot.
    It seems this was the King's way of showing devotion.
    There is something strange about the way temples are built.Somehow,I feel peace and tranquility inside temples.

    Beautiful pictures.A journey in to the past.


I'd love to know what you thought :-) Please shoot!