Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal near Bijapur
in Karnataka are centers of Early Chalukyan art. Badami is located at a distance of about
500 km from Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka and is well connected by road
Aihole was the first capital of the
early Chalukyas. Aihole is to the west of Badami, along the Malaprabha
river, while Pattadakal is to the east. Pulakesi I, one
of the greatest rulers of this dynasty, moved the capital to Badami nearby. Badami was
then known as Vatapi.
The first phase of temple building in Aihole dates
back to the 6th century CE, the second phase to the 12th century.
The Ravanaphadi temple is a rock cut
temple, with a rectangular shrine, with two mandapams in front of it and a rock cut
Shivalingam. This temple dates back to the second half of the 7th century.
The prominent temple groups here are the Kontigudi
group and the Galaganatha group.
A group of three temples is referred to as the Kontigudi
group of temples. One of these is the Lad Khan temple, named after a
mendicant that lived in this temple in the 19th century , another the Huchiappayyagudi
temple and the Huchiappayya math.
The Lad Khan temple consists of a
shrine with two mandapams in front of it. The shrine bears a Shiva lingam.
The mukha mandapa in front of the sanctum has a set of 12 carved pillars.
The sabhamandapa in front of the mukha mandapam has
pillars arranged in such a manner as to form two concentric squares. There are also stone
grids on the wall carrying floral designs.
The Huchappayyagudi temple has a
curvilinear tower (shikhara) over the sanctum (unlike the Lad Khan temple). The interior
of the temple has beautiful carvings.
The Galaganatha group is one of
nearly 30 temples on the bank of the river Malaprabha. The main shrine of the Galaganatha
temple enshrining Shiva - Galaganatha has a curvilinear shikhara,
and has images of Ganga and Yamuna at the entrance to
The Huchimalligudi temple at Aihole,
built in the 8th century shows an evolution in the temple plan, as it shows an
ardhamandapam or an ante-chamber annexed to the main shrine.
The best known of the Aihole temples
is the photogenic Durga or the fortress temple. It is apsidal in plan,
along the lines of a Buddhist chaitya, a high moulded 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
The Meguti Jain temple stands on a
hillock. The temple sits on a raised platform, and a flight of steps leads one to the
mukhamandapa. The pillared mukhamandapa is a large one. A flight of stairs leads to
another shrine on the roof, directly above the main shrine. From the roof, one can have a
panoramic view of the plain with a hundred temples or so.
From a historic standpoint, the Meguti temple has an
inscription on its foundation stating that it was built in the year 634 CE. This
inscription also contains a reference to the poet Kalidasa.