Durga Temple, Aihole
The Durga Temple at Aihole is one of the most celebrated and intriguing ancient Hindu temples. One of the most beautiful and well-preserved temple, it has a unique tapered-oblong plan, and one could never be tired of walking around it and admiring its shape. The photogenic Durga or the fortress temple is planned along the lines of a Buddhist chaitya, a high molded adisthana and a tower - curvilinear shikhara. A pillared corridor runs around the temple, enveloping the shrine, the mukhamandapa and the sabhamandapa. All through the temple, there are beautiful carvings.
The temple derives its name from Durgadagudi meaning 'temple near the fort'. Dedicated to Vishnu, the temple appears to be a Hindu adaptation of the Buddhist chaitya (hall) with its apsidal end. Standing on a high platform with a 'rekhanagara' type of Shikhara, it is the most elaborately decorated monument in Aihole. The columns at the entrance and within the porch are carved with figures and ornamental relief's. The temple appears to be a late 7th or early 8th century construction.
Aihole is a temple complex in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka, India. It is a very popular tourist spot in north Karnataka. Aihole is to the east of Pattadakal, along the Malaprabha River, while Badami is to the west of both.
Aihole has the potential to be included as a UNESCO World heritage site.
Early inscriptions call this town Ayyavole and Aryapura. Aihole has its own historical significance and is called as cradle of Hindu rock architecture. Many temples and caves of historical importance can be found at Aihole.
Aihole was the first capital of the early Chalukyas. Here they built over 125 temples in various styles and is said to be a laboratory of experiments in rock cut architecture. Pulakesi I, one of the greatest rulers of this dynasty, moved the capital to Badami nearby. Badami was then known as Vatapi. It is from these temples that the Chalukyas gained their experience and went on to build the great temples of Pattadakal. The first phase of temple building in Aihole dates back to the 6th century CE, the second phase up to the 12th century CE. Some temples were even built as early as the 5th century CE.
Aihole, was the cradle of ancient Hindu temple architecture. It has more than 70 temples. The experimentation with different styles was undertaken by the artisans. The artisans worked on the rocks to create the earliest rock cut shrines. The artisans graduated to the full fledged Chalukya style of architecture.
The early Chalukyas inherited architectural styles largely from their neighbours to the north and south of their kingdom. Usage of curved towers decorated with blind arches came from northern India. Pilastered walls with panel inserts are a southern Indian style. The usage of Deccan style is in their balcony seating, angled eaves and sloping roofs, and elaborately carved columns and ceilings (George Michell,1997). In short, they artistically brought together the prevailing styles in their neighbourhood to create the Chalukya style.
Typical features unique to Badami Chalukyas architecture include mortarless assembly, an emphasis on length rather than width or height, flat roofs, richly carved ceilings, and, sculpturally, an emphasis on relatively few major figures, which tend to be isolated from each other rather than arranged in crowded groups. The aesthetic sensibility of sculpture from this period also seems to retain a certain classical quality whose impulse does not carry over into later periods of Indian art (Susan Huntington, 1985).