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Aihole, located on the banks of the river Malaprabha, is considered the birthplace of several important Indian temple architectural styles. It is a Tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site. About 140 temples, built in both the South and North Indian styles, form some of the most beautiful and fascinating temple complexes in the country.

Situated in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka, about 12 km downstream from the scenic town of Pattadakal, Aihole witnessed the initiation of Hindu temple architecture. The ancient town of Aihole was the seat of Chalukyan power nearly 1500 years ago. Aihole, as well as the neighboring towns of Badami and Pattadakal near Bijapur, were centers of Early Chalukyan art.

Located on the banks of the Malaprabha River, Aihole was once the glory of the Chalukyan Empire and its first capital. This quaint town has temples distributed in two groups, one dating back to the 6th - 7th centuries and the second was constructed in the 12th - 13th centuries.

These two temple clusters are known as the Kontigudi group and the Galaganatha group. Each temple is different from the others, and probably does not have parallels anywhere in South India, or for that matter, anywhere in India. The most striking aspect of the architectural style here is the experimentation and imagination shown by the architects. Temple-building experiments in this region ushered in an era of new traditions in temple architecture.

 Visiting travelers are awed by the centuries-old, magnificent structures that transport one to a bygone era when temple architecture was just being developed.
Distinct styles of architecture including the Dravida, Hoysala, Buddhist, Jain and Rehangara characterize the 140 small and large temples.

The Chalukya rulers contributed enormously to the temples here. The Badami Chalukyas architecture encompasses north and south Indian styles of temple architecture. The most unique aspect of Chalukya architecture was the mortar-less structure; the temples have flat roofs with intricate carvings on the ceilings. The temple remains are framed by green foliage, which brings them to life. These structures are evidence of the highly artistic craftsmanship of the past. 

The Kontigudi group of temples in Aihole is a set of three temples consisting of the Lad Khan temple, the Huchiappayyagudi temple and the Huchiappayya Math.

The Galaganatha group is a bigger cluster with nearly 30 temples on the banks of the river Malaprabha. Galaganatha temples have characteristic features which include a curved Shikhara above the Garba Griha and images of the deities of Ganga and Yamuna at the entrance of the temples.

A trip to Aihole will be a journey of discovery and is sure to bring to light the culture and traditions of ancient India.

This temple is a major attraction in Aihole. The basic structure of this temple resembles a Buddhist Chaitya. It has a Gopuram structure comprised of an Adisthana, a Mukha Mandapa (= pillared hall/porch), Sabha Mandapa and a Shikhara (= tower) over the Garba Griha. The pillars of the corridor encircling the shrine have intricate carvings of the Goddess Mahishasuramardini destroying the demon Mahisha, the Goddess Chamundi Devi Crushing Narasimha and many carvings of Shiva and Nandi (the Bull), Vishnu with Garuda, and Harihara.
Lad Khan Temple
The temple in nearby Durgigudi dates back to 700 AD, and has damaged images of Shiva in the shrine. Two Mandapas (= pillared hall/porch), stand in front of the temple. North Indian style lattice work adorns the windows. Its name comes from Lad Khan, a very pious Muslim who stayed in the temple at the end of 19th century.
Hacchappayya Math
The Hacchappayya Math is a 7th century temple, featuring a curvilinear tower on its sanctum. The characteristic feature of this temple is the elaborate carvings of human figures on the exterior
Chikki Temple
Beautifully carved columns and ceiling are major attractions of this ancient temple.
Ravanaphadi Cave Temple
A few meters away from the village, the cave temple has been carved out of rocks. It contains a variety of carvings of Shiva, including an Ardhanariswara Shiva (half-Shiva, half-Parvati), and an image of Parvati and Ganesha dancing. A carved lotus graces the hall. There are also two small temples dedicated to Vishnu and Shiva in the ancient Dravidian style.
Buddhist Temple
A two-storied temple, this structure has a smiling Buddha carved on the ceiling. Nearby, there is a Jain temple with Mahavira in the shrine
Meguti Temple
Dating back to 634 AD, this is one of the oldest dated temples in India. Possibly Saivaite in origin and Dravidian in its décor, the temple has a serene Jain figure in its sanctuary. It is situated on a hilltop and has a raised platform with steps leading to the temple Mukha-Mandapa. An inscription found in this temple contains a reference to the famous poet Kalidasa.
The Kunti Group temples
This is a group of four temples dating back to the 7th-9th centuries, located in the village. One of the temples has columns decorated with sculptures of human forms, and two of the temples are from the Rastrakuta period. The fourth temple has beautifully carved images of Shiva and Parvati, Vishnu and Brahma on its ceiling.
Galaganatha group of temples:
This is a cluster of about thirty temples. Shiva is the presiding deity of the main temple here. Images of the Ganga and Yamuna grace the entrance.
Huchimalli Temple
Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the temple has an image of the Lord sitting on a huge cobra.
Suryanarayana Temple
This temple dates back to the 7th-8th centuries and is dedicated to the Sun God. It has a sculpture of the Sun God and his consorts, Usha and Sandhya, being drawn by horses in a chariot.
Archeological Museum
The ASI (Archeological Survey of India) maintains an excellent collection here which includes ancient Chalukyan sculptures, relics, parts of the temples and inscriptions that were found during excavations.
Nearby places Train stations Airports
HUBLI 136 Km 02H 22m
SAMBRE 158 Km 03H 05m
Hospet Junction 130 Km 02H 06m
Hubli Junction 130 Km 02H 14m
Nearby major cities
Name Distance Duration
456 Km 07H 07m
Bangalore is the IT hub of India and the capital of the state of Karnataka. In Old days Bangalore used to be referred to as the garden city of India in reference to the numerous well maintained gardens and green space within the city. Wodeyers were the rulers of Karnataka, Mysore used to be the prime city and capital of the erstwhile Mysore state, and Bangalore came into prominence during the British rule. At present it has evolved as large cosmopolitan city.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Best Seasons
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Season Min. Temp. Max. Temp.
Summer 22 °C 40 °C
Winter 10 °C 30 °C
Summers are uncomfortable with temperatures touching 42C. Monsoon follows in Jul-Sep. Ideal time to visit is during Oct - Feb period.

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