Aihole on the banks of the Malaprabha river was the first capital of the Early Western Chalukyas. There are innumerable temples in Aihole, Badami & Patadakkal. There are around 70 small mandapa type temples in and around the village, which used to be known in earlier days as Aryapura or Ayaavole. The temples belong to two ages, first in the 6th & 7th centuries and a second set of temples belonging to the 12th & 13th centuries. They were constructed out of the locally available sandstone, which was easy to use for construction in raising the building & also for carving the sculptures.

The Konti- gudi group of temples are the most simplest in form & considered the oldest. There are three shrines one facing east. Two other temples facing west are joined to each other by a pillared potico.

The Ladh Khan temple is of a mandapa type, a rectangular structure with a flat roof of stone slabs. The plan of the building suggests that it could have been a village meeting hall, rather than a typical shrine of worship. This mandapam was used by a Muslim mendicant in the last century & hence it is known as Ladh Khan temple. It is considered to be a temple for Surya Naaraayana.

The Durga temple is a more developed structure, resembling a Buddhist Chaitya. Standing on a high base, the temple has a mukha mandapa, sabha mandapa & garba griha with a passage bordered by pillars with carvings. There is a small pyramidal sikhara over the garba griha. There are some wonderful scuptures. On one side are the carvings of Siva on his Rishaba vaahnam, Narasinhaa(Vishnu as a half man, half lion) & Vishnu on his Garuda vaahanamon one side and Vaarahar (Vishnu in the form of a boar), Hariharan (form of Vishnu-Hari & Siva-Haran) & Mahishasura Mardini trampling the buffalo demon on the other side.

A Sketch of Mahishasuramardini, Durga temple, Aihole

There are two rock cut cave temples, a Hindu temple - Raavana-Phadi & a Jain temple.

The Raavana-Phadi temple, excavated on a hillock probably belonged to the 7th century. The square shrine housing a rock-cut linga is almost the same saize as the square mandapa before it. On the ceiling of the chamber connecting the front square mandapa & the main shrine are carvings of Lord Vishnu on his Garuda Vaahanam, a central lotus design & Indraa on his Airaavatam. On either side of the mandpa, two more shrines have been excavated, the shrine on the left for forms of Siva & the other for Saptamatrikas.

The Jain temple is partly rock cut & partly structural. The rectangular shrine at the rear houses the image of a Thirthankara.

Other temples: Huchchimalli-gudi on the outskirts of the village, built in the 8th century with fine sculptures, the Uma Maheswari Temple, Meguti, a Jain temple, built on a hill is one of the most developed structure in the mandapa style.

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