Gaudargudi Temple, Aihole

Gaudargudi Temple, Aihole

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AIHOLE TEMPLES – Peep Into The Past

Off the beaten track of modern progress, situated in Bijapur district of Karnataka, on the banks of the Malaprabha river, is a squalid little village known as Aihole, originally known as Ayyavole. The place name has a legendary origin and is associated with Parashurama, who having destroyed the whole race of Kshatriyas came to Malaprabha river to clean his bloodstained axe. It is said that the water of the river turned red after washing the axe and at the sight of the river, he cried out ‘Ai Holi Ai Holi.
Thus the place came to be called as ‘Aihole’.
Nearly fourteen hundred years ago, Aihole was the capital of the Western Chalukyan rulers. Here are many ancient stone temples and two rock-cut caves all vying with each other in artistic beauty and architectural form. The atmosphere around these temples has now entirely changed in i lie sanctuaries no oil lamps burn, nor is there any scent of flowers, nor sound of bells followed by chanting. In short, mi rituals are held and it is no longer a place of pilgrimage w here devotees could effect communion with gods.
Aihole was an important centre of early Western Chalukyan kings during the 6th to 8th centuries. Once a neglected village, it has now been revived and improved with good roads connected with many towns around the region. The village contains superb specimens of temples, and is considered as the ‘cradle of Hindu temple architecture’ where the art of temple building evolved in various stages for many centuries.. lt is said that around the region were more than 125 temples, some of which go even beyond the Chalukyan time. constant excavations are continued bringing to light more temples lost under the cover of earth.

The oldest temple at Aihole and perhaps one of the earliest in India is that of Lad Khan built around 450 A.D. It was converted into a residence by a prince of that name in later years. Thus a Muslim name was given to this edifice. It has a primitive air about it with a cave-like appearance noticeable especially in the massive pillars with bracket capitals and the flat roof. It has no ‘Sikhara’ of any sort. This again points to the cave prototype. Over the central bay of the hall is a supplementary Storey, probably of the later period, which too has a flat roof.
The remarkable feature of the temple, however, is the location of the cella which, contrary to the normal practice, is built in the central portion against the back wall. The temple is approached by a porch with twelve square pillars. The first row has Yamuna on one side and Ganga on the other. Amorous couples are carved on the other two. On the outer walls of the temple to the north, south and east are pierced windows to light from outside.
The decorative details upon this temple are expressive the latticed windows lend a pleasing contrast to the plain wall. The pillars in the front show life-size images in bold relief. At the western entrance is enshrined a figure of Garuda. Originally, this was intended for Vishnu, but it now houses a Shiva Linga. In the centre of the pillared hall is a large Nandi. There is a rectangular shrine on the roof and three sides have the idols of Vishnu, Surya and Devi.
Another shrine which deserves notice, is that of Meguti Jain temple. This must have been the last temple built at Aihole as it is precisely dated as 634 A.D. According to the inscriptions, this structure was built by Ravikirthi during the reign of Pulikeshi II. This temple is located on the spur of a hillock overlooking the village and has a fortified enclosure reached from below by a flight of crudely set steps. It is a .lain temple built in a purely Dravidian style ot architecture showing projections, and pilasters along the outer face. The outer walls of this shrine are all plain. Within the cella is seated on the throne against the back wall, a Jina or Tirthankara. An exquisitely carved sculpture of the Yakshi Ambika seated on a lion can also be seen here. All the outer niches are empty. As this temple stands on the hill, it came to be called as ‘Megan Basadi’ (meaning upper temple) which in course of time was corrupted into Megudi or Megiti.
Kontigudi or Kwanti Gudi is another flat roofed temple with massive square pillars. ‘Konti’ means ‘Trident’ The locals say that some tribals called Konta had lived here encroaching the temple. Here are finely executed figures of Tandava Shiva, Varaha, Bhairavas and Vamana. The entrance to the shrine has a Garuda on the lintel which indicated that it was originally a Vishnu temple. The pillars are massive . and clumsy. The door of the shrine is flanked by ‘dwarapalas’.
The Durga temple in Aihole is decidedly one of the finest peri mens belonging to the late 7th century. It outbids the rest of the shrines both in artistic form and aesthetic sense, lt has an undivided chamber and is unique in that it is built on the lines of a Buddhist Chaitya with an apsidal shaped . cella over which rises a little spire or ‘Sikhara’. As in Buddhist Chaityas, there are two rows of columns that divide tin hall. The pillars are square and heavy and contain sculpture of dwarfs in amusing attitudes. The outer walls of the shrine have beautifully carved figures of Narasimha, Mahisuramardini, Varaha, Vishnu, Shiva and Ardanarishwara. Pierced windows are provided in pleasing Patterns to allow light into the hall.

In the local dialect, it is called as ‘Durgada Gudi’ meaning ‘temple inside the fort’. According to them it is not a temple of Durga but a temple for Vishnu as the ten incarnations (Dash avatars) are symbolically represented in this temple. Some historians attribute the temple to Surya, the Sun God, because of the presence of his effigy and other solar symbols.
Huchchamaligudi is a temple with a ‘shikhara’ over its shrine in the Northern style. There is a plain porch with heavy square pillars, leading to a large hall encircling the main shrine. Two of the four pillars in the centre have pieced stone screen between them. The top of the shrine is decorated with carvings on the ceiling. On the porch is the figure of Karttikeya seated on a peacock with attendants.
Huchhappaya temple is to the south-west of Aihole. This is another massive structure having a ‘shikhara’ in the Northern style. On the sides are niches containing carvings of Narasimha and Bhairavas. The lintel of the doorway shows a figure of Garuda. It is presumed that this shrine was dedicated to Harihara.
No less interesting is the rock-cut cave. One of the most interesting cave, it is known as the Ravana Phadi cave temple, which is a rock-cut shrine belonging to the 6th century. It is unique among all the monuments and probably the oldest of such a type excavated in rock. It lies to the north-west of the village. The cave is made up of a hall with two pillars in front and an ante-chamber behind. On either side of the front hall are two chambers containing beautiful life size sculptures. On the left side of the hall is ten armed Shiva in ,a dancing posture and to his left is a small figure standing, whose head is missing now. Next to it is the figure of Parvati and at the end is a horse-headed female figure with two other female figures. On Shiva’s right is an interesting short figure of Ganapathi engaged with his favourite food ‘modakas’.
The pilaster of the hall contains a beautiful figure of Ardanarishwara form of Shiva. In another corner is a form of Shiva with an axe and trident on either side, holding up a cobra by its tail in his right hand and a chain hanging from his left shoulder. On the other side of the hall stand the figure of Harihara-the conjoint form of Vishnu and Shiva. Though both the figures look alike at a passing sight, yet there are differences in their form and appearances.
The sculpture of Varaha in the cave is quite interesting Mill Ins physical strength well depicted in the limbs and body. Varaha form of Vishnu was very popularly worshipped in the early centuries and the Western Chalukyas had in their royal seal the emblem of Varaha. Adjoining this is the figure of Mahishasuramardhini slaying the buffalo-demon. carries all her characteristic weapons and the lower end of her trident is plunged into the demon’s body. In a corner of the hall are the figures of Shiva and Parvathi with the sage Bhringi behind.
There is no doubt that the Aihole art of the 6th century was purely indigenous and independent. Chronologically, a temple at Chikka Mahakuta, a site little known to scholars, marked the beginnings of Chalukyan movement. It is obvious that the Chalukyans experimented with different types of temple building styles, testifying to their integrity and sense of innovation. As at the ruins of Hampi, the mind suffers at these edifices and the intricate representation of deities created more than fourteen centuries ago.
About three decades ago, one could not think of visiting Aihole to see these gifted monuments. There was no road and no proper conveyance. But today, a fine motorial road has been laid and a rest house also has been built. At the back of Durga temple there is a museum which houses beautiful idols belonging to this region collected from temples.
The nearest railway station is Badami which would be the best base to visit Aihole, Pattadakal and a few other places around. Aihole is only 46 kms, from Badami and regular bus service operates to this village. Taxi or jeep can also be hired at moderate charges. There is a tourist rest house at Aihole but Badami would be the most convenient place for overnight stay. Authorised guides are also available.

Aihole Inscription

Aihole which was the first capital of Chalukyas is called as cradle of Hindu rock architecture. Chalukyas have built many beautiful temples between 6 th to 8 th centuries. It is believed that the inscriptions in Aihole were composed by Jain poet Ravikeerthi, who was a court poet of Chalukya king Pulakeshi II.

The inscription is written in Sanskrit using Kannada script. It mentions the achievements of Pulakeshi II especially victory over Harshavardhana king. The inscriptions also mentions about the victory of Chalukya are over Pallavas. The inscription is especially found in Meguti temple. The inscription is dated back to 635 AD. It also has the mention of Magalesha’s (king of Chalukyas of Badami ) victory over Kalachuri’s (Indian dynasty).

The architecture of temples built in Aihole-Badami and Pattadkal are wonderful and worth praising. The temple in Aihole were not built ones, it was built in stages. Most of the temples were built by Pulakeshi II. The rock temple shows the craftsmanship of the artisans. Aihole has many rock cut caves temples which are beautifully sculpted with sandstone. Ravana Phadi cave temple is one of the best examples for the architecture in Aihole. It has Lord Shiva with ten arms and dancing with Saptamatrikas. Most of the Hindu temples are built in North Indian architecture which has shikaras, a gavaksa (curved arch) and amalaka ( a large stone on the Shikara).

The Durga Temple of Aihole, Karnataka

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Aihole [ಐಹೊಳೆ] is a small town near Badami in Bagalkot district. Aihole has many beautiful temples divided into diverse groups. Aihole was previously known as Ayyavola or Aryapur. Aihole has been described as “one of the cradles of temple architecture”.

The temple groups at Aihole can be grouped as the Kontigudi group and the Galaganatha group of temples.

Temples at Aihole are:

Lad Khan temple,
Huchappayya (gudi) temple,
Galaganatha group temples,
Durga temple,
Meguti Jain temple,
Ravana Phadi cave is one of the oldest rock cut temples,
Gowda temple,
Suryanarayana temple.Aihole was the capital of chalukyas prior to vatapi (badami). Inscriptions found in aihole are said to given many useful information about the history. The inscriptions are written by Ravikirti, Ravikirti was one of poet during chalukyas.

Archaeological Museum, Aihole

The Archaeological Site Museum is located in the Durga Temple complex. This museum is part of ‘The Archaeological Survey of India[ASI]’ Dharwad Circle.
The museum has stine sculptures, inscriptions and carved stones etc.The museum ahs galleries including open air gallery.
Museum operating Hours : 10.00 am to 5.00 pm
Closed on – Friday
Entrance Fee :
Rs. 2/- per head
(Children up to 15 years free)

Distance From Places To Aihole

Aihole can be reached by badami, pattadakal , mahakuta and nearby places. You will get some small hotels for breakfast and tea. You can stay either in Badami or in Bagalkot.Aihole can easily reached by road from Badami.Badami is having good connectivity,See here to know How to reach Badami.Distance From Badami To Aihole is around : 36 km

Distance From Pattadkal To Aihole is around: 16 km
Distance From Mahakoota To Aihole is around : 25 km
Distance From Bagalkot To Aihole is around: 36 km

Experiments at Aihole

Aihole, along with nearby Badami, were the cradle of experimentation with temple architecture, stone artwork, and construction techniques. Aihole was an early medieval era meeting place for regional artisans whose ideas eventually led to the creation of prototypes of 16 types of free-standing temples and 4 types of rock-cut shrines. Though there is a sprinkling of Jain monuments in Aihole, the temples and relief artworks were predominantly created to spread the theology of Hinduism. These experimentation in architecture that began in Aihole yielded the more polished looking group of monuments at Pattadakal, a UNESCO world heritage site.

Lodhurva Jain temple

Lodhruva was established as the capital by Rawal Deoraj, the Bhati clan, in 8th−9th century CE. [2] [3] [4] The temple was constructed in the 9th century along with city of Lodhruva. Rawal Jaisal, a famous prince of the Bhati clan, moved his capital from Lodhruva to Jaisalmer in 1156 CE. [5] [6] [7] The temple was also plundered by Mahmud of Ghazni and Muhammad of Ghor. This led to temple being destroyed in 1152 CE. In 1615 CE, the temples undergone repairs and renovations. [8] The temple remains the only standing structure in the ruined city of Lodhruva. [9] [10]

Lodhurva is one of the important Jain center. The temple is built with yellow limestone and sandstone [11] famous for the intricate craftsmanship. The temple features ornate torana (arched gateway), and stone carvings of Kalpavriksha and kalputra. [12] [13] Lodhurva Jain temple is considered one of the best example of Jain architecture in Rajasthan. [14] According to William Guy, the temple walls are folded similar to an accordion and features exquisite screen carvings of jali. [15] [16] In Shvetambara tradition, idols tend to derive their name from a geographical region, the lodhurva Parshvanath is one of 108 prominent idols of Parshvanath idols. [17]

According to Jain belief, A snake comes out every evening from a hole in the temple to drink milk offering. As per popular belief, the sight of this snake is a blessing. [12]

Aihole Historical Temples

About Aihole and History

Aihole, located in North Karnataka a small village near the banks of River Malaprabha. Aihole is the cultural capital during the period of Western Chalukya dynasty of Badami between 543-757 CE.

The name Ayyavolal is derived from Aryavolal or Aryapura (valley of elders). Village people call this as Aivalli or Aiholli. There is also a story behind the name, those days Parashurama, after killing Kshatriyas, washed his axe in Malaprabha river and the river turned red in color. Hence people exclaimed "Ai Holi" Ai the river, and hence the name is Aiholi.

Important Places to see in Aihole and covered in this Blog are

1. Durga Gudi Temple Complex
2. Lad khan Temple and a Stone ladder
3. Ravalaphadi Cave Temple
4. Jain Cave Temple
5. Huchchimalli Temple Complex
6. Museum (you can get the free brochure here and also buy the ASI guide booklet)

Tips to plan and visit the places in Aihole

For all the above places it takes about 1 to 1.5 hours. For the road to Cave temples take help from locals or from a guide. You can ask for a guide and they just charge about Rs.300 for all the places in Aihole alone.

This can be planned along with Hampi/Badami visit. Refer my respective blogs for all details.

Stay options, Food options

I suggest you buy and have the Tender coconut and Bananas here. They also sell the Bajra (Pearl millet) Buttermilk but they sell it on used bottles and may not be fresh as well, which is a concern. Carry snacks or food along with you. Water bottles you can buy here. For good food, visit Badami.

The Cradle of Temple Architecture: Aihole-Badami-Pattadakal

Lake side temples at Badami – Bhutanatha Temple

Renowned for art and architecture, the quiet villages of Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal house rich history from our past. These places were once capitals cities of the grand kingdom of the Chalukyas. We covered this exclusive place in Karnataka and recorded all the information available to us. Take a glimpse of the life of our ancestors through a photo journey and a 360-degree virtual tour.


Famously termed the ‘Cradle of Hindu Rock Architecture’, Aihole is one of the oldest settlements in India. The temples and architecture in Aihole are closely associated with Hindu mythology, exhibiting the involvement of our ancestors in mythical stories and religious practices. The cave temples are carved out of local rock-hills, making the whole town an admirable work of art.

1. Buddha Cave and Meguti Jain temple

Buddha Chaitya Cave

Perched on the slopes of Meguti hill is the only multi-storied cave of Karnataka called the Buddhist cave. The hilltop is flat and houses the Meguti Jain temple. It is famous for housing inscriptions that prove that the legendary epic Mahabharata was a real war and not a fictional event.

Ceiling carvings of Durga temple, Aihole

It is the most visited tourist location in Aihole with its famous Durga temple. Although named Durga, the temple is not dedicated to Hindu Goddess Durga, but gets its name from the nearby Durg fort. The complex is renowned for housing the first freestanding stone temples in Indian history and is a pending World UNESCO Heritage Site.

Jyotirlinga Temple Aihole

It is an exclusive complex of the Shiva temples. The most prominent features of this complex are its stepped water tank and the tower shaped Trident nearby. The Trishul is exquisitely lit up with lamps at night.

Aihole Kunti Gudi

It is also a cluster of Shiva temples inside a square and depressed land. The festival of Dussehra is celebrated grandly with a unique ritual of worshipping the holy Trishul in the temple.

Natraja – Ravana Phadi

One of the earliest cave temples of Chalukyan era, Ravana Phadi is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The caves have been excavated out of the low height mountainous rocks with stunning carvings on the rock walls. The usual theme of carvings being Shiva, Vishnu, Ganga and Mahishasur Mardini.


Nestled on the banks of beautiful Agastya lake, the temples of Badami will leave you spellbound. It was the most revered capital city during the Chalukyan rule thus, the most fine work of art from the 6th Century in Karnataka. Badami is a perfect example of devotion meeting art, giving birth to exotic Indian rock architecture.

Badami Temple Caves

It is a group of four temples carved out of the almond coloured mountains of Karnataka. One of the four caves is dedicated to Jainism, believed to mark the beginning of Jain temple architecture in India. The foreground of the lake and stone steps further enhance its pristine and dreamlike landscape.

Carvings Badami Mahakuta

Famous as the Dakshin Kashi, it is an ancient pilgrimage place for followers of Shiva and Shakti. All year devotees take a dip in the holy waters which is believed to wash away one’s sins.

Bhutanatha Temple

Dedicated to the Bhutanath form of Lord Shiva, these group of sandstone temples are located near the cave temples. It was built by two generations and thus has two different styles of architecture.

Shivalayas – Badami

Shivalaya means the abode of Shiva. These three Shiva temples are located on a hill with the Upper Shivalaya at the top and the Lower Shivalaya at the bottom. While Upper and Lower Shivalayas have been destroyed in the Pallava invasions, the Malegitti Shivalaya is well preserved with its ancient carvings.


Panorama of the Pattadakal cluster of temples

Pattadakal was the prestigious capital where a king would be crowned. It is thus home to the finest Chalukyan architecture, monuments and carvings. The ochre colour of the stones of the region may unite the landscape of all the three capitals but Pattadakal stands out for its sheer sophistication.
Pattadakal Cluster

Jainism related to Lakshmeshwara has long history. [1] [2] Lakshmeshwara is one of the ancient Jain centres formerly known as Hugligare and Puligere. [3] [4] Many Jain temples are mentioned in the inscriptions. [5] [6] [7] Kalyani Chalukyas most important Jinalayas Brahma Jinalaya at Lakkundi, Charantimatha at Aihole and Sankha Jinalya at Lakshmeswar. The temple is believed to be an older structure than Meghuti temple. [1] The Sankha Jinalaya at Lakshmeshwara is dedicated to Neminatha (as per many inscriptions this was an important Jinalaya). Sendraka Durgashakti, a feudatory of Pulakeshin II is said to have given gifts to this temple. There is an inscription present in Shanka basadi mentions temple received grants from Pulakeshin II in c. 609 – c. 642 CE. [8] An inscription of Vinayaditya (dated 686 A.D.) refers to a grant to Jain acharya of Devagana and Mulasangha. [5] Epigraph dated 723 CE,of Vijayaditya mentions a grant to Niravadya Pandita who was to house pupil of Sri Pujyapada. Another inscription of Vikramaditya II (dated 734 A. D.) mentions gifts to Sweta Jinalaya. [9] [10] In 734-735, Srivijayadevapanditacharya of dev gana received funds for performing repairs to the temple. [9] During the period of Kirtivarman II, the Jinalaya built by Kumkuma Mahadevi. [11] The Jaina monument of the Rashtrakuta period found Lakshmeshwar. [1] [6]

Adikavi Pampa wrote Ādi purāṇa, seated in this Basadi during 9th century. [12] [13] [14]

Shanka Basadi Edit

Shanka Basadi is one of the two historical Jain temples at Lakshmeswar, the more famous is Sankha Jinalaya, also called Sahasrakuta Jinalaya, in the Basti bana area. Shankha Jinendra(Neminath) (Shankha is the symbol of Neminath), the 22nd Jain thirthankara, is the presiding deity of this Jain Basadi. [2] The temple derives its name from the image of Neminatha in kayotsarga posture standing on a large shankha (conch). [15] Basadi, which consists of a garbhagriha, a large ardhamandapa, larger mahamandapa and a rangamandapa. The rangamandapa has three entrances (south, north, and west). It has a chaturmukha structure carrying three chaturmukha figures. The shikhara of the temple is built in Rekhanagara style. The unique feature of this temple is the Sahasrakuta (with the carving of 1008 Tirthankaras) Jinabimba. [16] There is a Manasthamba erected in front of the temple. [17] [18] There are ventilated walls in front of the temple, whereas yakshas and yakshis are in the other walls. [12] There are many splendid carvings of dancers and musicians. Inside the temple, one can find the rare monolithic piece of Sahasra Jinabimbas (SahastraKut Jinalay) and the idols of Dharnendra and Padmavathi. Many mutilated Jain idols are on the wall of a well nearby. Basadi is in ruins and renovated it presents the interest of the Kalyani Chalukyas in Jain architecture. [18]

Ananthanatha basadi Edit

Another Jain temple at Lakshmeshwara is the Ananthanatha Basadi, built-in c. 1250 CE, which is in the middle of the town. [13] The temple is constructed in Trikuta style and is an example of the Chalukya style of architecture. [18] The idol of Anantanatha, one of the 24 Thirthankars, is installed in the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine. [12]

Watch the video: Gaudargudi Temple. Aihole


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