Aihole, Bagalkot Karnataka
Aihole, is located in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka. It has a cluster of temples, beautifully carved dating back to the 6th century. When I say cluster, it is not 10 or 20 but 120 to 130 temples scattered in a rocky land of 7kms radius. Each temple has a unique architecture. We spent more than 3 hours scouring the temple for the visual delights.
The Durga temple near the entrance to the main temple complex has a ‘U’ shaped structure, thought to imitate the Buddhist chaitya halls. And we were told this is the temple which inspired the architectural plans of India’s parliament building. An elaborately decorated building, Goddess Durga is not worshipped here, the name Durga comes from ‘Durgadagudi’ meaning the temple near the fort.
The other important temple in this complex is the Lad Khan temple. It is the oldest temple of Aihole dating back to 5th century. We were surprised by the Muslim name to the Hindu temple. The guide then told us that it actually was a royal assembly hall where Pulakeshan I had performed the horse sacrifice and later used for religious functions also. A Muslim official ‘Lad Khan’ used the building as his residence, since then the building got this name.
There are many other temples scattered around. Some of them hardly had any demarcation from the local houses. The archeological Survey of India has done some restoration work to some of the buildings. Aihole has the potential to be included as a UNSECO World heritage site.
Hubli Airport is the closest airport. The nearest railheads are at Bagalkot and Badami. Aihole is connected by road with Pattadakkal (19 km), Badami and Bangalore.
Best time to visit is from October to February.