Before the Chalukya ruled Badami and made all those cave rock carvings, Aihole was the location of the Empire with the capital in Pattadakal. I visited Aihole and Pattadakal these places with goMowgli on a three-day tour from Hampi.
Update: As of 2018, GoMowgli is no longer in operation. If you want a tour to Aihole and Pattadakal, check out this one from Viator which includes the nearby awesome caves of Badami which I wrote about here.
Here at Aihole there are over 100 temples, but like Badami aren’t in the best condition. They are from the 4th and 5th centuries, made of sandstone, and have town people living here per usual, so what can you expect? I think knowing all that, it’s amazing how intact they are. This was the playground of architecture for the Chalukya. They did some practice here before shifting to Badami and making all those cave temples, some more than one story high.
FYI it smells like bats inside! yuck
The one people rave about is the Durga Temple, where you’ll have to pay a very worth-it fee to see the temple, an optional more to see the museum behind. Other popular temples are the Ladkhan and Meguti. The first being the oldest, and the last the later type. There is a Buddha temple that has a great view that my goMowgli guide took me up to see. Because many of the idols are broken, most of these temples aren’t in use.
I was getting a little templed out to be honest, and actually really enjoyed just walking through the village here and taking photos of the kids and animals. It wasn’t hard since everywhere I looked was a sleepy cow or little girl who wanted her picture taken.
This was another trial place for Badami in terms of architecture and was the capital of the Chalukya empire. Three main temples to see are the Jain Papanatha temple, the Mallikarjuna temple, and the Virupaksha temple with a huge Nandi next to it.
you can see numbers here where these stones were added later as renovation
Unlike Aihole which has multiple complexes spread around, here there is just one complex that foreigners pay 200 and Indians (I think) 30 rupees to get into. Temple wise, this one was my favorite. You can see where they experimented trying to find their own style with temples from the South and North of India.
From Badami, Pattadakal is 20 km away and Aihole is 40 km away. You can take local bus. I was with goMowgli on this tour so used their hop-on hop-off services.
When leaving, your closest big hub is Hubli which is a
crappy unique little city with well, nothing not much. The hotel I stayed at had terrible customer service, no WiFi (even though they actually had it and wouldn’t give me us the password), and no working electricity sockets in my room. There is a KFC which I didn’t see until on the way out, but if you’re touring Badami, Aihole, etc you’ll be eating hotel/dhabba food- which for me means sort of starving- so that KFC would have been ideal to fatten up a bit! Apparently Hubli has a really nice train station though- so there’s that…
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