Like most of its neighbors, Aihole too has a magnificent past. In its heyday, the city abounded with architectural wonders - palaces, temples and much more, the conglomeration of the tastes of the numerous rulers and dynasties that came and went. What remain today are the ruins of what once was. Even then, there are around hundred temples scattered all over, each rivaling the others in beauty and workmanship. It is rightly said of Aihole - wherever you turn, a temple meets your eye.
Sitting pretty on the banks of the Malaprabha River, Aihole was part of the Chalukyan Empire for a long while when most of the constructions happened. Later the Rashtrakuras invaded Aihole, followed by the Bahamanis. Aurangzeb annexed the territory along with many others in the 17th centuries.
Aihole is composed of temple complexes, some of them housing nearly a hundred shrines under one roof. The temples were built in two sets, one during the 6th and 7th centuries and the other during the 12th and 13th centuries.
The Galgantha set of temples, for example, are distinctive in that they all have a curved ‘shikhara’ above the Garbagriha, with images of Ganga and Yamuna adorning the entrance. The Ravani Phadi cave temple is also unique; it stands by itself, carved on a rocky hill.
The oldest of the temples of Aihole is the Lad khan temple, belonging to the Kontigudi set. Look out for the Vimana carved on the roof while you are in Lad Khan temple. The windows here are all latticed, in stone, displaying influences of Northern India. The architecture of the Durga temple is also bound to leave you gaping. The temple is an elaborate affair, composed of plinths and galleries, all covered with carvings. The main deity here is of Chamundi Devi which is depicted as trampling the Narasmiha.
The Suryanarayana temple has an icon of Surya inside, flanked on either side by Usha and Sandhya in a chariot drawn by horses. The temple also has an inner sanctum standing on pillars and Rekhanagara tower over it. A sculpture of Vishnu on top of a cobra is housed inside the Hutmalli temple. The Ravalpathi cave-temple has the Nataraja in various positions inside it.
There is a Jain Basadi as well here; the Meghuti Jain temple which stands atop of a hillock is a sight not to miss. The inscriptions which have been found in this temple have reference to poet Kalidasa. You have to climb a flight of steps to reach the Mughamandapa and another to reach the main shrine above. From the roof, you can have a spectacular view of the whole town.
The nearest airport is Belgaum, 189 km away
Well connected by road with Pattadakal at a distance of 17 km and Badami at 46 km
Badami is the nearest railway station