In ancient India, people relied on temples for learning, financial assistance and education. Temples were the know all, be all. Locals deposited their Gold and currency in the temple treasury chests and retired peacefully to sleep every night. Temples were a sacred place where the destiny was made and remade. So sacred were the temples that artisans practised (for decades) to master the art of temple architecture.
It took them years to carve the temple stones & illustrate the divine deeds of our holy Gods. Some 1500 years ago, they ran programs in temple architecture and taught gifted architects the coveted art of temple architecture.
To learn any subject, one has to master the fundamentals. And this is exactly what they offered in Aihole some 1500 years back – the elementary education in temple architecture.
Aihole – the cradle of Hindu Temple Architecture
Life has a way of changing everything, specially time. In the 21st century, Aihole is a small, unknown village in the not-so-known Bagalkot district of majestic Karnataka. However, in the 5th century, Aihole was the capital of Chalukya Kingdome, beaming with intelligentsia.
People travelled from far flung places to learn the science as well as the art of temple building in Aihole. The education of temple building began as early as the 5th century & continued till 12th century.
Aihole was the proud capital of Chalukyas, home to 125 temples at that time. Later, the capital was shifted to Vatapi Badami, some 35 kms. away from Aihole.
The historical temples of Aihole:
As the artists understood the science of rocks, stones and tools & learnt the art of carving, chiseling & sculpting, time was expediting the metamorphosis of Aihole – from an education capital to a mystic town of majestic temples.
As you enter the temple complex of Aihole, you see all kinds of temples around you – monolithic, rock cut temples, temples paralleling the parliament building & temples with Mahabharata and Ramayana inscriptions.
The temple walls are engraved with finer prints of ancient stories that have been passed to us from generations after generations, open for interpretation.
The characters of stories from the temple walls are animated and beautiful. You could see expressions changing from one face to another as you shift your gaze from one wall to another.
The complex houses many styles of temples dedicated to different deities. Most popular ones are: Durga temple, Ladh Khan temple, Meguti temple, Ravanphadi cave, Hucchimalli temple, Gowda temple and Suryanarayan temple.
The series of temples cast a multi-dimensional effect on the onlookers who lose the track of time while admiring the temple adornments. If you look closely, there comes a moment when you blindside everything and merge with the soul of temples. That’s when the time comes to a halt, and you find yourself living these tales from centuries ago. It’s almost surreal.
How to reach: Distance from Badami to Aihole is approx. an hour. You could ride a KSTDC bus and reach Aihole.
Where to stay: Stay in Badami and travel from there to Aihole
Nearby attractions: Pattadakal (13.5 kms), Badami (34 kms.) & Hampi (138 kms.)
Also read: The tales of a bygone era, Hampi.
On your next trip to Karnataka, do plan a trip to the 1500 year old village of northern Karnataka – Aihole.