All across Karnataka, invaders, conquerors and dynasties have come and gone. They have left their imprint on the land, its people and their folkways. Nowhere is this more evident than at Aihole in Northern Karnataka. Aihole is a glorious part of India and a trip to this great center of medieval Indian art and architecture would make you aware of a great heritage. Plan your trip to Aihole in India with us and fix your date with history.
Aihole is situated on the banks of river Malaprabha. The cave temple of Ravana Phadi stands all by itself backed against the rocky hill out of which it has been carved.
The Chalukya Dynasty was founded by Pulakesin I, or the Great Lion, in AD 543. In all likelihood, his family were feudatories of the earlier Kadamba dynasty before they declared their independence from their former lords.
This period saw the construction of great architectural wonders not only at Aihole but the whole region including Badami, Pattadakal, and other places. The early Chalukya dynasty was ousted by its own district officers, the Rashtrakutas in AD 757. Later on, Aihole became a part of the Bahmani and other local Muslim dynasties. In the 17th century, Aurangzeb annexed the Deccan and made it a part of the Mughal Empire and Aihole, as a part of that region, came under the Mughal rule.
The sculptures here are superb, particularly the beautiful dancing Shiva who seems to be trembling with motion. Then there is image of the fearsome Mahishasuramardini or the Mother Goddess Durga destroying the demon Mahisha. This cave is well worth a long visit.
The main Aihole temple complex is some distance away. There are about a hundred shrines, large and small, dotted all across this abandoned capital of the Chalukyas though only a few of them are in the fenced area. At one time, Aihole was a thriving trading town with a guild of 500 merchants. Today, it is a hamlet, though fenced out of the area protected by the Archeological Survey of India.
Of particular interest is the Durg Temple, which is not only the most decorated monument in Aihole, but it is also famous as an imitation of a Buddhist rock-cut chaitya hall. There is also the unusual Lad Khan temple. Some historians believe that this was never intended to be a temple but a village meeting place built to resemble a thatched hall. It is also likely that the early Chalukyan architects created these two shrines when they first attempted to build structural temples for the Hindus to worship in.