Home of Heritage
Glory and gore go together and so proves the legend of a village in Karnataka. Stories claim that Lord Parshuram, after honurably avenging the death of his father, came to the river Malaprabha to wash his blood-stained axe. As he washed his axe, the river turned red due to the colour of blood and a passer-by woman saw this. In terror, she screamed "Ayyo, hole!" in Kannada, which means "Oh, dear, blood!" and hence the village was called - "Aihole"
Once upon a time, Aihole was the rich and illustrious capital of the erstwhile Chalukya Empire. Today, although it is nowhere near it's former glory, it still remains a culturally rich tourist spot that potrays the life and lifestyle of medivial South India. It's rustic air makes tourists feel as though they have telepoted back in time to the ancient period. The Buddhist, Jain and Hindu rock-cut temples, shrines and structures are so marvellously constructed that tourists are often left speechless when they gaze upon the beauty that their eyes are beholding at the moment. The caves, so old and so beautifully carved shows how cultural imprints are not only left in the minds of the humans but also on the skin on nature. Aihole is a spiritual and historical retreat that has never failed to impress tourists and loop them into it's enchanting world full of mysteries.
The village of Aihole became prominent in the 4th century when it became the capital of the Chalukyan Empire that had power over most of southern India. This made it an important centre of commerce as the trade industry boomed. It also became a cultural and religious site for innovations in architechture and experiments. Structures during this time were built of a variety of items. Evidence found temples built of stone, intact where as the remanants of temples made of wood and bricks. Aihole became the cradle of new ideas as well as the fusion of many architechtural styles.
After the decline of the Chalukyas, Aihole became a part of the Rashtrkuta empire in the 12th century BC. Despite it not being a capital, or an important centre for the Rashtrkutans, it still continued to develop. Numerous Buddhist monestaries, Hindu and Jain temples were built. Inscriptions and texts were still an essential part of the Jain and Buddhist culture. Aihole conitnued to flourish with lots of surplus wealth despite a substantially large population.
In the 13th century, the wealth and prosperity of Aihole came before the eyes of the Delhi Sultante and thus, Aihole along with the other villages in Malaprabha valley and Deccan regions were raided and plundered. Aihole was devastated. In the 15th century, once again an ambitious empire, the Vijaynagar Empire took control of the region. It rose from the ashes of what was lost to the Delhi Sultanate and it seemed as though Aihole had hope again, but the Vijaynagar empire collapsed in the year 1565.
Now, Aihole was under the rule of Adil Shah, the ruler of Bijapur. The Muslim commanders of Adil Shah misused the temples by storing weaponry and army supplies. Furthermore, a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva was renamed as the Lad Khan Temple after a Muslim Commander who used it as his operational hub. Once again, in the 17th century, Aurangzeb, the emporor of the great Mughal Empire of the northern India in his quest for territorial expansion came to the south and took over Aihole and the surrounding regions. But this did not last and Aihole fell into the hands of the Maratha Empire.
In the 18th century CE, when Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan defeated the Marathas, Aihole was neglected and Tipu Sultan focused more on the region of Mysore and it's development. Soon, the British colonial rulers annexed the regions goverened by Tipu Sultan and Aihole joined a very large part of India that had been conquered by the Britishers. Due to this political instablity, Aihole lost it's importance as a pivotal town. The place that was once where new ideas were kindled was now where the glory, gore and ghosts of the past were recalled.
Aihole gained independence and became a part of the Union of India in 1947.
How to reach
Aihole is well-connected to all major cities of India through road. Air and rail connection is not very good.
How to Reach by Flight
Aihole dos not have an airport. Hubli Airport is about 144 km away from Aihole. Belgaum Airport is the next nearest airport which is approximately 189 km away.
How to Reach by Train
Aihole does not have a railway station. The nearest station is Kerakalamatti Station in Bagalkot. It is 28 km away. Tourists can also go to Guledagudda Station in Kelawadi. It is 32 km away. One other option is Badami, which is the nearest large town. It is 34 km away.
How to Reach by Bus
Aihole is well-connected by state run bus service as well as private buses.
How to Reach by Road
Aihole lies enroute many national highways including NH 48, NH 13 and NH 367. The road is smooth is in most places except for a few constrcution rough patches (as of April 2019) here and there.
How to travel within
Tourists can travel within Aihole by the means of rickshaws. Many monuments are clustered up together so it is possible for tourists to walk from one to another.
Hotels in Aihole are very minimal in number. The hotels in Aihole are average with modest prices. Most tourists prefer to stay in Badami which is just 34 km away. Badami has a good and comfortable range of hotels as it is a relatively larger city than Aihole. The ambience and cuisine in most of the reputed hotels of Badami is excellent. The hotels in Baami range from average to expensive. If tourists have planned a comfortable journey and want a weekend getaway then it is recommended they stay in Badami. If the main objective of the trip is spiritual and tourists want to spend time worshipping in the temples then, despite the absence of verygood facilities, stay in Aihole will be convinient as it will cut down travel time.
The best food to eat in Aihole is the traditional South Indian meal. Tourists can relish soft idlies with spicy and sweet sambar and numerous types of chutneys. The crispy vadas and dosas over here make one's mouth water! For lighter snacks, tourists can have yummy upma or the cute little button idlies! Appam is a savoury that is adored over here! The south Indian filter coffee is also a very hot option over here! (pun intended xD) Some of the top restaurants you can go to for a good meal include Hotel Mayuri Yatri Nivas and Savji hotel very well known among the locals for it's fish fry!
!Another amazing option you can try is the Sai Dhaba which has a unique concept of serving food in a bamboo enclosed traditional seating to make it a more authentic and enjoyable experience. The vegetarian and non-vegetarian sections are seperated here, which is a pro for Jains visiting thier heritage temples. The butter naan and chana dishes here are deemed the best in the village. The service is fast althougth ambience is not upto the mark. Average cost per person (as of April 2019) is 300 including soft drinks.
Day 1 (arrive at Aihole/Badami and check into the hotel and have a good breakfast)
- Since all temples are clustered together and are of walking distance from one to another (i) start off from the Huchhappayyagudi Temple Complex and walk your way through (ii) Kontigudi Temple Complex (iii) Gauri Temple (iv) Malikarjuna Temple (v) Durga Temple Complex (vi) Jyotirlinga Temple Group
- Close to Jyotirlinga Temple is Hotel Chalukya. Have a delicious and heavy lunch.
- After lunch, visit the Ambigera Gudi and Chikki temple complex
- Start walking straight and with the help of some directions, reach Rachigudi temple, followed by Hallibasappa Gudi and enjoy the beauty.
- After a day full of excitement, return to the hotel to rest and have dinner.
Day 2 (start from the hotel early morning after a heavy breakfast, make sure you carry packed lunch)
- Visit the Hucchimalli Temple enroute to the rock-cut temples of Aihole: Ravanaphadi
- Visit the Ravanaphadi Cave Temples to enjoy their beauty and calm early in the morning.
- Visit the Twin Jain Temples complex to grab an insight into Jainism and it's glory.
- Visit the Meguti Hill to see a fusion of Jain and Buddhist architecture, a marvel that stands three storeys high.
- Relax for a while in the temple premises and have lunch
- Walk about 1km ahead on the same road as Meguti hill and visit the Anceint Digambar Jain Temple.
- Return to the hotel to relax and have a filling dinner
Day 3 (start from the hotel after a lazy morning enjoying the amenities of the hotel and tasty brunch)
- Visit the Ramalinga Temple Complex to see the spirit of Hinduism
- Within the same area, see the Yeniar Shrines and mavrel at the beauty of the contstruction, near the banks ofthe river Malaprabha.
- Visit the Galalganatha Temple Complex nearby to the Yeniar Shrines
- Go for shopping to the local markets around the temples and enjoy browsing through the shops
- Return to hotel and have dinner
Day 4 (check out from the hotel early morning with packed brunch)
- Visit the Siddheshwara waterfalls to enjoy the scene and embrace mother Nature. Have brunch at the waterfall.
(return from the destinatiion, with a mind full of memories)