Durga Temple Aihole is a landmark of the religious life of Karnataka. Maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, the Durga Temple Aihole is also at the pending list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Durga Temple Aihole is dedicated to Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu and exhibits a blend of Dravidian and Nagara architectural style. Durga Temple Aihole complex is well maintained and hence is neat and clean.
Aihole is considered to be the ‘cradle of Hindu rock architecture’ due to its beautiful temples. It is also mythologically an important place as it is believed that Parashurama washed his axe here after killing the Kshatriyas.
History and Legend of Durga Temple Aihole
The Durga Temple Aihole has several historical events surrounding it.
- Durga Temple was built between the 7th and 8th century by the Chalukya dynasty.
- Though the temple is mistaken to be a Durga Temple, it is actually not so. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Shiva and is named as Durga Temple to mean that it is the temple of the fortress; Durga here actually means, ‘Durg,’ that is, the fortress.
- The Durga Temple is a part of the fortification of the Marathas.
Significance of the Durga Temple Aihole
The Durga Temple is one of the architectural wonders of Aihole.
- The Durga Temple Aihole is quadrilateral in shape. The contour of the temple exhibits the Gajaprasta style, that is, the backside of an elephant.
- Durga Temple is impressive with numerous pillar reliefs which exhibit the unique Chalukya architectural style.
- Also known as the fortress temple, the Durga Temple Aihole depicts a Buddhist chaitya and is adorned with exquisite carvings.
- One of the most beautiful sculptures of the Durga Temple Aihole is that of Goddess Durga.
- The seven headed serpent carved at the ceiling of the Durga Temple of Aihole is another impressive work by the artisans.
- All the walls of the Durga Temple are decorated with sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses.
- The temple also comes with a porch and an entrance to the epistle. Through the porch you can enter the rooms of the temple.
- There are several rooms within the Durga Temple along with a Garba Griha. This is the main part of the shrine where the spirit of the shrine is located.
- There are two main pillars of the temple, namely, the Mukha Mantapa and the Sabha Mantapa.
- The elevated plinth, the high galleries and the moulded adisthana are the other characteristics of the Durga Temple.
- The fine sculptures of Lord Narashima, Goddess Chamundi and Lord Shiva are the other attractions of the Durga Temple.
Durga Temple Aihole Timings
The Durga Temple in Aihole is a heritage of the country. Tourists come to visit the marvelous architecture of the temple. These temples are no more in use and hence regular rituals and worship are not performed at this shrine. Hence you can enter the temple premises from morning till dusk.
Durga Temple Food Timings
The Durga Temple is just a heritage site for visit and hence the tradition of distributing the ‘prasada’ after worship is no more practised.
Dress Code for Durga Temple Aihole
There is no specific dress code to be followed by the tourists to visit the temple. But as the climate is hot and humid, light coloured clothes are suggested.
Festivals celebrated at the Durga Temple Aihole
The Durga Temple is one of the tourist hotspots of Aihole due to its rich history and architectural features. Festivals are not celebrated here.
Poojas and Rituals at Durga Temple Aihole
The Durga Temple Aihole is no more used for worship.
How to reach: Road, Rail and Air
By Air: The nearest airport to the Durga Temple of Aihole is the Belgaum aiport. It is located approximately at 189 kms from Aihole. The city is directly connected to Mumbai by Vayudoot flights.
By Road: Aihole easily accessible from the major cities of Karnataka. It is located at 17 kms from Pattadakal, 44 kms from Badami and 490 kms from Bangalore. The roads are good and tourists can hire cabs to the temple. There are ample buses plying to and fro from Aihole.
By Rail: The nearest railway station to the Durga Temple of Aihole is the Hubli- Sholapur meter gauge line. It is located approximately at 34 kms from the city. There is ample number of transport facilities available at the railway station that takes you directly to the Durga Temple.
Hotels in Aihole: Where to stay
One of the famous sites of Aihole, the Durga Temple has several hotels around it. The Laxmi Vilas hotel is nearest to the temple. The hotel comes with both affordable and premium accommodations. There is ample supply of water at the hotel, besides the basic amenities. The Krishna Cottage and the Hotel Badami court are the luxury accommodations at Aihole. Besides car parking, you get quality food and convenient staying facilities here. Among the budget accommodations, the Heritage Resort and the Clarks Inn Badami are well known. Tourists can also opt to stay at Badami, which is just at 40 kms from Aihole.
Where to eat
From cafes to dhabas, there are numerous eat outs at Aihole. Durga Temple being a tourist hotspot has several hotels near it. These restaurants generally serve pure vegetarian food, namely, dosa, bisi bele bhath, akki roti, jolada roti, idli, vada, sambar and Mysore pak as desert. The hotels are hygienic and bottled drinking water is available. The Udipi restaurant, Amba Sagar restaurant, Banashree, Raaga fast food, Savaji non vegetarian hotel, College canteen, Hotel Vijaya Restaurant are some of the well known restaurants near the Durga Temple of Aihole.
There are almost 125 temples at Aihole, the ancient capital of the Chalukya dynasty. Temple architecture of Aihole can be divided into two phases; one is the 4th and 5th century and the other is the 12th century. Numerous temples were built during this time span and every temple is unique in itself. Artisans experimented with the styles and created gems out of rock. Some of the famous temples near the Durga Temple are:
- Lad Khan Temple: Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this is one of the oldest Hindu temples of India. Located to the south of the Durga Temple, this rock cut temple is exquisite with floral patterns and delicate lattice work on its floor and walls.
- Ambigera Gudi Temple: Situated just opposite to the Durga Temple, it is a complex of three temples. The Ambigera Gudi Temple is dedicated to Lord Surya and Lord Vishnu and exhibits a beautifully engraved lotus at its ceiling. This 10th century construction reflects the Nagara style of architecture with shikaras, mandapas and sanctums.
- Mallikarjuna Temple: Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is located at the small town of Basaralu. Reflecting the Hoysala style of architecture, this shrine comes with a trikuta, which means three shrines are connected with a common hall. Built over a platform, this temple comes with a decorative pot, known as kalasa, a Hoysala crest, that is, the emblem of a Hoysala warrior and decorative walls.
- Chikki Temple: This is a Jain temple built in 1204 AD. The temple pillars are engraved with Kannada inscriptions which narrate the era of Ratta King Kartaveerya IV and Sevuna Yadava Krishna.
- Eniyar Temple: A group of eight temples, this temple complex is located at the western outskirts of the Aihole village. While the first two temples do not have images, the third temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The other temples are adorned with the images of Gajalakshmi, Ganapati and Karthikeya.
- Hucchimalli Temple: One of the oldest temples of Aihole, the Hucchimalli Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple comes with a large hall and engraved with beautiful works.
- Jain temple, Meguti temple: This Jain temple is located at a hilltop, just at 16 kms from Aihole. The temple is built with mortar and comes with a 16 columned porch and hall extensions.
- Ravana Phadi rock-cut temple: This is a sandstone temple of Aihole, dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple houses a wonderful sculpture of Nandi, the Vahana (vehicle) of Lord Shiva. The temple also comes with numerous small pillars.
Hence visit Durga Temple of Aihole to unravel a glamorous facet of temple architecture of India.