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