Thursday, December 17, 2009

Amazing architecture of Aihole

From the capital of Chalukyas, we head straight to the village of AihoLe (read I-ho-Lay). The beauty of AihoLe is that, the whole town has got innumerable historical remains. The houses of the residents are juxtaposed with old monument or debris. AihoLe definitely should be explored leisurely, walking around the streets of the village and climbing the nearby hill. Unfortunately we were not that lucky, we had to be satisfy ourselves by visiting just the main temple group. We were starving out of hunger, after breakfast only thing that we consumed was water and it was almost 4 in the evening by the time we reached AihoLe. My yearning for having mandakki was satiated in a roadside eatout, we had delicious mandakki husli, mandakki voggaraNe, menasinkai bajji and special k-tea before entering the temple group.

The entrance costs Rs.5 per person and Rs.25 for digital cameras. Its oval shape is its singularity, not many temples are built in such shape. The architecture is predominantly of Chalukya style, for it was their early capital. The landmark oval shaped Durga temple that we encounter at the entrance is what you can find in most AihoLe postcards or search results. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple is built on a raise platform and the tower of the temple is of unique pyramidal shape which is not too common. A narrow courtyard separates the pillared balustrade wall from sanctum sanctorum and the outer walls contain brilliant carvings. AihoLe was like a research lab for artists who kept experimenting with various styles and developed themselves a unique Chalukya genre. Probably that explains the uniqueness of the architecture here.

The archeological findings of AihoLe are well displayed around a lawn just outside the museum in front of Durga temple. I could spot various forms of Ganapthi, Narasimha and other Hindu deities carved in stones. The museum contain some gigantic findings and also photographs of Pattadakal and AihoLe before and after restorations by ASI. There are many other interesting temples like Lad Khan temple (though I'm curious about the name), AihoLe temple and a beautiful temple tank. Most temples are reconstructed and are still being constructed. Due to lack of data, patience and time, I'm again being less descriptive here. Those interested, could go through the details about AihoLe temples here and here.

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