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AIHOLE TOURS

AIHOLE TOURS

TIME TIME SEEMS TO have stood in this small, dusty town, situated on the Malprabha river, about 12 km (7 miles) downstream from Pattadakal. Fortifications encircle much of the town. Within are ancient sandstone temples of varying types, some of which were used as dwellings and are named after their former inhabitants. The temples are associated with both the early and later Chalulcya rulers of Badami  and date from the 6th-11th centuries.

Most visitors begin their tour of Aihnle at the Durga Temple. Nearby is a small complex with the Ladkhan Temple. This building is recognizable by the tiers of sloping slabs that roof the spacious hall as well as the adjoining entrance porch, River goddesses and amorous couples are carved on the columns of the porch, while images of deities can be seen on the side walls of a small chamber at the rooftop level. The adjacent Gaudar Gudi comprises a small sanctuary set within an open mandapa, with balcony seating on four sides. The ruined Chakra Gudi is near the stepped tank. The until Group, a quartet of temples conceived as open columned halls with interior sanctuaries, lies to the south. The temple to the southeast, probably the first to be built, has superbly carved ceiling panels portraying the Hindu Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. A similar trio of ceiling panels can be seen in the Hucchapayya Math, lying a short distance beyond.

A stepped path leads to the top of the hill southeast of the town, passing by a twostoreyed Buddhist temple. At the summit of the hill stands the serene Meguti Temple built in AD 634, the earliest dated structural monument in Karnataka. The temple’s clearly articulated basement, plastered walls and eaves show the South Indian style of temple architecture¬† in its earliest phase. An impressive seated Bain figure is installed in the sanctuary. Prehistoric megalithic tombs are located to the rear of the temple. The road, going downhill, follows the curving fortifications and passes the Jyotirlinga Group, until it ends at the Durga Temple. To the north of the Durga Temple is the Child Gudi, with exquisitely carved columns, beams and ceiling panels. A path to the right, leads to the small liucchi-mall Gudi, with a North Indian style tower, and an unusual icon of Karttikeya, Shiva’s son, carved on the ceiling of the front porch.

Nearby lies the rock-cut Ravala Phadi Cave, dating to the late 6th century. Its interior is enhanced with splendid carvings of Hindu divinities. These include a Dancing Shiva in a subshrine; Ardhanarishvara, Harihara and Shiva with Ganga, on the walls of the main hall; and Varaha and Durga in the antechamber preceding the small linga sanctuary. Tiny shrines and a fluted column stand in front.

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