Aihole - Cradle of Indian Architecture
After visiting the Badami fort and the cave temples, my next destinations were Aihole and Pattadakkal. From my previous day's visit to the Badami Archaeological museums, I got an opportunity to read about the history of the Chalukyans and their kingdom. The articles say that the Chalukyan's early capital was at Aihole. Then they moved their capital to Badami, which is about 33 kilo meters away. Aihole earlier known as Ayyavoḷe and later Aryapura.
So, as usual, I inquired about the bus timings and the share auto timings to Aihole at the hotel's reception, the Royal Deluxe lodge. The boys at the hotel, were of great help as they suggested me two options:
1) To catch the van that was going to Pattadakkal at 9 am. From there, I can catch an auto or another bus to Aihole.
2) To use the direct bus service from Badami to Aihole. However the overall one sided cost for the trip will be around 12 rupees.
So I opted for the van and I reached Pattadakkal in just 30 minutes! From there, with the help of a local guide, I got into an auto which promised me to take me to Aihole. After a lot of bargaining, I could fix the charge for the trip to 250 rupees. I strongly suggest you to roam around Aihole in an auto as each temple complex are some kilo meters apart. But if you choose to walk, remember that there are 125 temple complexes that the Chalukyans have made for your visual treat!
Don’t worry! If you are not able to visit all the places, you can visit some of the main ones listed below:
1) Durga temple complex
2) Lad Khan temple
3) Ambigera Gudi complex
4) Mallikarjuna temple complex
5) Eniyar temples complex
6) Hucchimalli temple complex
7) Ravanaphadi rock-cut temple
8) Jain temple and Meguti temple
9) Hucchappayya Math complex
10) Kunti temples complex
11) Charantimath complex
12) Tryambakesvara group
13) Gauri temple
14) Jaina temples in the village
15) Ramlingesvara temple complex
16) Galaganatha temple complex
Finally, my auto entered the so called “small” town of Aihole. The Durga temple welcomed me. In the same temple complex, we have the Aihole Museum, the Suryanarayana temple, the Gaudaragudi temple, the Chakra gudi temple and the Lad Khan temple. The ticket charge to visit the temple complex is 5 rupees. They also charge you an extra 25 rupees, if you are carrying a camera with you.
When compared to my previous journeys, the sculptures made by the Chalukyan kingdom are the ones that has attracted me so much! Its beauty and the feeling is so indescribable for me. No wonder, it is being known as the cradle of Indian Architecture!
After visiting the temple complex, I stepped out and saw some local businesses of that area. If you want to get some food at Aihole, you have to purchase it from here itself. There is no other option to even get a bottle of water out there!
My next destination was the Hucchimali Gudi temple. Here, it had a small pond of its own. I was the only visitor at that time and the caretakers of the temple were busy cleaning. However one of them helped me with his little Hindi (like mine!) and told me that as there are a lot of temple complexes around here, it is good to visit at least the main places. He suggested and guided my auto driver too! (Who already knew all these places!)
The RavanaPhidi complex has another care taker who is well versed in Hindi. But be careful! Because if he starts his explanation, you will end up paying him in the end ;)
The journey that started at 1PM ended at around 4PM in the shores of Malaprabha River and the temple complexes beside it - the Galaganatha temple complex and the Ramalinga temple complex.
One thing that I can assure you is that, if you are an archaeological lover, then you can’t stop clicking your camera when you are here. It will be a fiesta to your eyes and the camera. As these places are not much crowded, you will get some good snaps of the monuments.
Before I finish, I would like to share with you some tips that I think can be helpful to you.
My first tip!
Tip number I- Before and during your journey, please ensure the following:
1) You have enough money in your pocket! This is because, the nearest ATM is in Ameengatt which is about 10 km away.
2) You have a good sunscreen lotion with you. Yeah, I know that getting tan is fine, but getting sun burn hurts! I really mean it!
3) Wear good shoes. If you are wearing sandals, wear a socks too as it is too dusty to walk around.
4) The nearest rail head is at Badami and don't expect much in this station. A small tea shop is a luxury there and not much facilities (the ones you expect in other stations) can be availed here.
My destination tip!
Tip number II- How to reach Aihole?
Nearest rail head is Badami, which is well connected with trains from Trivandrum, Banglore and Hyderabad. Get a share auto or hire an auto to reach Badami town. Freshen up yourself and take another share auto to Pattadakkal. From there, you can reach Aihole with the help of another auto.
My staying tip!
Tip number III- Accommodation
Use Stayzilla.com. They will definitely help you with options for affordable stays (Even if it is for two days, just in case you wish to visit Badami too!) Note that the railway retiring rooms are not available here.
My Yummy tip!
Tip number IV- Food
You will get vegetarian restaurants all around. Some are non-veg ones too. You could also try some street foods, for dinner, if you are ready for an evening stroll in the Badami town. Also, the markets over here have fresh fruits and vegetables for sales.
My cautious tip!
Tip number V- Beware!
Monkeys! That's the only thing that would concern you here. Their favorite snatch will be your camera bag or the sling bags ;)
My final tip!
Tip number VI- Language.
Here everyone is not versed with Hindi. So if you can handle Kannada, its better. Don’t worry! Even if you can’t handle the local language like me (I am a Keralite who speaks Malayalam and English), you will be able to manage with some broken Hindi, like I did! :)
So, Happy tripping!!! ;)