Heralded as the ‘cradle of Hindu/ Dravidian temple architecture’, Aihole is a tranquil village on the banks of Malaprabha River. Hundreds of temples pepper the villages and fields nearby. The most noteworthy among them is the Durga Temple composed of a semicircular apse, an elevated plinth and a gallery encircling the sanctum. The Lad Khan Temple is one of the earliest temples in the region and was initially a royal assembly hall and marriage mantapa. It was the chosen abode of the Muslim chief Lad Khan. Other major attractions in the area are the Huchimalli Temple with a sculpture of Lord Vishnu sitting atop a cobra, the Ravalphadi Cave Temple which celebrates the various incarnations of Lord Shiva, the Konti Temple Complex, the Umamaheswari Temple, the Jain Meguti Temple, and the two-storied Buddhist temple.
Why visit Aihole:
Durga Temple: Durga temple is the primary attraction in Aihole and most spectacular representations of Aihole temples. Durga temple complex houses an archaeological museum and art gallery.
Ladkhan temple showcases iconography from Shaiva, Vaishnava and Shakti traditions of Hinduism.
More temples: Garudagudi, Chakragudi, Ambigaragudi, Rachigudi, Kuntigudi, Hallibasappa Gudi, Badigargudi, Trimbakeshwar temple, Mallikarjuna Temple, Jyotirlinga temple are some other major ancient temples.
Ravana Phadi cave: Ravanaphadi Cave is a 6th-century rock-cut Aihole Cave Temples housing Shiva and Parvathi. Ravanaphadi is about a km from Durga Temple complex. Extensive artwork featuring Lord Shiva, Parvathi, Ganesha and Vishnu can be seen inside the cave.
Places to visit near Aihole: A visit to Aihole is often clubbed with a visit to Pattadakal (14 km from Aihole) and Badami (35 km from Aihole). The archaeological museum housed within the Durga Temple complex is not to be missed.
How to reach Aihole: Aihole is 450 km from Bengaluru. Hubballi is the nearest airport (140 km from Aihole). Badami and Bagalakote are the nearest train stations (both 35 km from Aihole) Aihole has good bus service and road connectivity from Bengaluru and other parts of Karnataka.
Places to stay near Aihole: Three and four-star hotels are available in Bagalakote and Badami towns (both 30-35 km from Aihole).