Aihole is another important historical place in Karnataka, India along with Badami, Pattadkal, Bijapur, and many more. Aihole is also known as Aivalli or Ahivolal, famous for its Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu monuments. Durga Temple Aihole is one of the most important temple of Aihole. Aihole is a rich historical site located on the banks of the Malaprabha River in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka.
The city has about 125 temples built between the 5th and 8th centuries. It is one of the major archaeological sites of Karnataka. Out of the 125 temples, over a hundred belong to Hindu deities like Shiva, Vishnu, and Durga, some to Jain Tirthankaras like Mahavira, Parsvavanta, and Neminath, and very few to Buddhists. Kannada is the local and official language spoken in Aihole.
History of Aihole
Aihole was long ruled by the Chalukyas. It became a cultural center for the Chalukyas along with Pattadakal. They built about 125 temples in this small town. The Chalukyas were a very powerful dynasty that ruled most of northern Karnataka from 543-743AD. After the Chalukya period, Aihole came under the control of the Rashkutas from the 9th to the 10th century. Again, in the 11th and 12th centuries, Aihole witnessed the rule of the Chalukyas of Kalyani who built many temples and monasteries of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism.
Later Aihole was under many dynasties like the Delhi Sultanate, Vijayanagar Empire, Adil Shahi of Bijapur, Mughal Dynasty, and Tipu Sultan. Many monuments were destroyed and rebuilt during this period. The monuments of Badami, Aihole, and Pattadkal show us the past history and tell us how great the architects were during that period.
However, Aihole developed into a large town during the reign of the Badami Chalukyas from the sixth century onwards. Many inscriptions of this period are found here. Many of the famous temples here were built by the kings of that dynasty. Aihole, which shone with glory for about two hundred and fifty years, gradually faded with the demise of that dynasty. Some of the temples built during the Kalyani Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas were modest in quality. Gradually, Marawe became an anonymous village and remained so until the twentieth century when its architectural and sculptural splendor was unveiled.
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Aihole has its own story in Hindu mythology. It is believed that Lord Parasurama who is the sixth incarnation of Vishnu came to Aihole and washed his bloodstained ax and hands in the river Malaprabha. The river turned red; the women who saw the river started shouting Ayyo Hole in the Kannada language. Hence Aihole is also known as Aihol and Aryapur. Parashuram came to avenge his father’s death.
There is also a natural axe-shaped rock near the Malaprabha river and footprints in the river. The footprints are believed to be those of Lord Parashuram
Durga Temple Aihole Inscription
Aihole, the first capital of the Chalukyas, said to be the cradle of Hindu rock architecture. The Chalukyas built many beautiful temples between the 6th and 8th centuries. It believed that the Aihole inscriptions composed by the Jain poet Ravikirthi, who was the court poet of the Chalukya king Pulakesi II.
The inscription written in Sanskrit using the Kannada script. It mentions the achievements of Pulakesi II, especially the victory over King Harshavardhana. The inscription also mentions the victory of the Chalukyas over the Pallavas and these inscription found especially in the Meguti temple.
The inscription is dated 635 AD. It mentions the victory of Magalesh (Chalukya king of Badami) over Kalachuri (Indian dynasty).
The architecture of the temples at Aihol-Badami and Pattadakal is exquisite and admirable. The temple was not built at Aihole, it was built in phases. Most of the temples were built by Pulakesi II.
Rock temples show the craftsmanship of artisans. Aihole has many rock-cut cave temples beautifully sculpted out of sandstone. Ravana Fadi Cave Temple is one of the best examples of Aihole architecture.
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Here Lord Shiva has ten arms and He dances with Sapta Matrikas. Most of the Hindu temples built in North Indian architecture consisting of a shikar, a gabaksha (curved arch), and amalka (a large stone on the shikar).
Aihole Durga Temple
The Durga Mandir complex is one of the most visited Hindu temples in Aihole. Although the temple named Durga Mandir, it is not dedicated to Goddess Durga. Here Durga means fortress or protector. The temple earlier dedicated to Lord Vishnu or the Sun.
The Durga temple inside the fort is the most famous in Aihole. It has nothing to do with Goddess Durga. The name ‘Durga’ comes from being inside a fort. The temple planned on the model of Buddhist Chaitya. There are tall, cast iron, and arched shikharas.
Enclosing the sanctum sanctorum, mukhamantapa, and sabha mandapa, many pillars erected along the circumnavigational path. Although it is a Vishnu temple, it follows the pattern of Buddhist Chaitya. The Durga temple with its spire in the Rekha-nagara style is the most ornate temple in the whole of Aihole, with figurines and ornaments carved on the pillars at the entrance and outer courtyard. A couple of inscriptions found here do not give any information about the temple. Nearby is another small temple and ponds belonging to the same period.
A man named Lad Khan stayed there for some time, hence the temple got its name. This Shiva temple is the oldest in Aihole. The intricate details of the sculptures here are very delicate and have survived in good condition. The sculptures of Garuda, Basava, Linga, Surya, and some Mithunashilpa in this temple are very beautiful and noteworthy. A few inscriptions dating back to the later period provide interesting information.
The temple built by the Chalukyas around the 7th century. This temple is a marvel of Chalukya architecture. It has impressive pillars between the porch and the sanctum sanctorum. The temple is rectangular with Dravidian and Nagara architecture. The temple also has traditional Indian architecture known as Gajaprastha meaning Elephant’s Back.
The two main pillars of the temple along the porch give access to the Mukha Mandapam and the Sabha Mandapam. Both mandaps have intricate carvings on the walls and ceiling. The temple has sculptures of various deities the most important of which are Lord Narasimha, Goddess Chamundi and Lord Shiva which is famous for its fine carvings.
Since there is no regular worship in the temple, darshan can be done anytime from morning to evening. The temple complex houses the Eyehole Museum and Art Gallery, which managed by the Archaeological Survey of India. The museum exhibits many excavated idols and has a collection of images like Lord Shiva, Saraswati, Brahma, Lakshmi, Surya, Indra, and many more.
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