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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. It lies to the east of Pattadakal, along the Malaprabha River, while Badami is to the west of both. With its collection of architectural structures, Aihoḷe temple complex is on the pending list of UNESCO World heritage sites.

Of the many temples here in Aihole, the best known is Durga Temple, which is just along the entrance to the temple complex. Also known as Fortress Temple, 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.

This 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 in late 7th or early 8th century.

Assigned to the 9th century , this is originally a Surya Temple, as is indicated by the Surya image on the projection of the Rekhanagara (curvillinear) tower on the garbhagriha and the temple has in addition to the Garbhagriha, a Rangamantapa and a Mukhamantapa, and there is an image of Dakshabrahma in the temple. This is a Badami Chalukyan Monument.

It contains three temples. The largest of the three temple stands on an elevated plateform and appears to be a 10th century creation. The second and third temple is an ordinary structure.As the Ambiger(boatsmen) community stayed near it, the complex has secured its name.

There is also a museum at Aihole inside the Durga temple complex opposite to the Durga Temple.The museum mainly comprises of stone sculptures of Brahmanical, Jaina and Buddhist faith, fragmentary carved architectural members, inscriptions, hero stones, sati stones, etc. Period wise they range in date from 6th century AD to 15th century AD.The museum opens between 10.00AM to 5.00 PM daily and remains closed on Friday.

Aihole is full of surprises. While you walk through the street,amidst the village houses suddenly rises the spire of an ancient temple. The beautifully carved walls are hidden behind new concrete structures, and the shrine itself, no longer used for the deity whom it was built for, is where the villagers meet and gossip, where the bulls as well men take some much needed respite from their chores.The government wants to relocate all this habitation to protect and preserve the monuments, but the rehabilitation should be completed in an orderly and phased manner to safeguard the ineterest of common people.Sooner or later, the local children may no longer be allowed at this heritage structure in Aihole as the Government has initiated the process of rehabilitating those living in its vicinity.

The variety in construction indeed indicates that Aihole was a centre for early experiments in South Indian architectural styles.Amazing art forms that takes tourists back in time, Aihole and its enchanting pieces of work make it one of Karnataka’s most prominent tourist’s attractions. Aihole has a great potential to be included as a UNESCO World heritage site.A perfect example of rock architecture at its very best, Aihole is nothing short of an architectural wonder that dates back the 6th century CE.