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3.7 /5 32 votes


Best Time: Oct-Mar Read More

Ideal duration: 2-3 days

Nearest Airport: Goa Check Flights

"The Cradle of Hindu Rock Architecture"

Aihole Tourism

Home to over 125 beautiful Chalukyan temples and monuments, Aihole is a historical site in Bagalkot, Karnataka. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and is surrounded by marvellous sandstone hills and villages on the banks of the Malaprabha River. It was formerly the capital of the Chalukya Dynasty with over 100 Hindu and Jain temples dating back to around 6th to 12th century. Today, Aihole is a prominent centre for temple architecture and intricate stonework.

Aihole, known initially as Ayyavole or Aryapura, played a significant role in Hindu mythology. Besides Hindu and Jain Temples, Aihole boasts of a rock-cut Buddhist monument and a monastery dedicated to Lord Buddha. The towns of Pattadakkal and Badami are located nearby and together, they form a vast circuit to experience the marvel and grandeur of Chalukyan architecture. A few important monuments in Aihole include the Durga Temple, Lad Khan Temple, Ravanaphadi Cave Temples, Huchimalli Temple, Meganagudi group, Gowda Temple and the Huchappayyagudi Temple amongst numerous others.

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There's an interesting story about how the town got the name. Legend has it that Lord Parashurama, after avenging the death of his father, Sage Jamadagni came to the river Malaprabha to wash his battle axe and bloodstained hands. While doing so, the blood turned the colour of the river water to red. Seeing this horrifying sight, a woman screamed 'Ayyo Hole!’ in Kannada, which translates to 'Oh no! Blood!’. Thus, this town got the name Aihole. However, this place is also called ‘Ayyavole’ and ‘Aryapura’.
Lad Khan Temple
Lad Khan Temple, Aihole Source

Aihole has great significance to the Ramayana in the Rishi Gautama and the Ahilya part in the epic. In the town, there exists an axe-shaped rock with a foot imprint on it. These prints are said to have belonged to Parashurama. 

The Chalukyas ruled from the 6th century up until the 12th century with the Rashtrakutas ruling for the 9th and 10th century. And in the 12th century, they fortified the town. In the 13th century, the town was a target of wars by the armies of the Delhi Sultanate. During this time was when the Shiva Temple at Aihole came to be called the Lad Khan Temple, named after the Muslim commander who occupied this temple as his operations office.

Chalukyan Style of Architecture

Intricate rock cut pillars
Aihole is considered as 'The cradle of Hindu rock architecture' as legend has it that more than 125 temples were built during Badami Chalukyas rule, between the 5th and 8th centuries. These temples represent different architectural styles like that of Dravidian, Phamsana, Gajaprastha and Nagara. The exquisite sculpture from this period has a classical quality. Richly carved ceilings, intricate rock-cut pillars, isolated figures and flat roofs, are some of the standard features of the temples. The grandeur of the Chalukyan architecture is beyond excellence.


Chalukya Utsava

The Chalukya Utsava is a 3-day festival held every year. In addition to cultural activities such as singing, dancing, etc. this festival also houses several competitions and adventure activities. One of the main attractions of this grand event is the helicopter ride and hot air balloon ride (priced at INR 1,000 and INR 2,000 per person, respectively) for an aerial view of the ancient city.

Dates: Feb 7 - 9

Pattadakal Dance Festival
It involves the annual temple car (chariot) which is pulled from the temple gate to another sculpture called Padhkatte. Devotees from various places come to be a part of this event which is marked by religious as well as cultural celebrations, including prayers, dance and songs.

Dates: 1st January
Venue: Pattadakal Temple

Virupaksha Temple Car Festival, Hampi
Held in March/April as per local calendar, the Virupaksha Temple Car Festival is the annual temple car (chariot) festival. It involves a huge wooden chariot, marked by the auspicious presence of Gods and Goddess seated inside, which is pulled in a colorful procession attended by thousand of devotees. This festival symbolizes the annual wedding ritual of God's and Goddess.

Dates: March/April

Restaurants and Local Food in Aihole

The options for food and cuisines here are somewhat limited here. The handful of restaurants that you might here serve mostly vegetarian South-Indian food. Tourists could make arrangement for accommodation and food in Badami, which is the nearest town to Aihole and can be reached by road within 40 minutes. One might chance upon a few local delicacies such as Dosa, Bisi Bele Bath, Akki Roti, Jolada Roti, Idli, Vada, Sambhar, Mysore pak etc.
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Suggested Itinerary

  • Arrive at Aihole.
  • Have breakfast and head straight to the Durga temple, which is the most remarkable temple in Aihole.
  • Next, visit the Meguti Jain temple, which stands on a hillock.
  • Explore other temples including Hucchimalli Temple, Gowda Temple, etc., all being located within 2 to 3 km radius. 

Aihole Photos

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Holidify's Opinion

What's Great?

Aihole houses more than 125 temples. Enjoy exquisite architecture of the temples.

What's Not So Great?

Very few decent hotels and eateries.

For Whom?

Ideal for people who wish to explore places with historical significance and architecture. A good place for family vacations and solo trips.

Top Hotels In Aihole

How To Reach Aihole

The city does not have any airport and railway station and can be reached only by road. The nearest airports are in Goa and Belgaum, while the nearest railway station is in Bagalkot. The city is well connected by roads and there are many buses plying on the route.

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Aihole Reviews

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Rohit Shroff 1 year ago
- Being a temple town, make sure you strictly observe the traditions and culture of each temple.
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