We saw the phenomena “dejavu” becoming eternal in Aihole. This visual delight that lay before us brought alive the numerous dreams that haunted our sleep, and it seemed to arouse the historical significance of this place that lay dormant in our minds. Such was the splendid blend of architecture heritage and divinity that Aihole revealed.
The architectural excellence of the Chalukya dynasty of 6th to 8th century was looming large. To experience the exceptional art and culture you need to visit the place at least once. The enthralling confluence of sculpture and art of Chalukya temple architecture remains scattered here.
The splendid temple complex should be preserved as a national monument and given enough importance like Angkor Wat temple complex of Cambodia; otherwise it would be denying our future generations their right to experience our nation’s glorious past. It would be injudicious to our country’s past if we do not bring the historical importance of the sleepy village to the world.
Agriculture is the main source of income in this village. Most of the innocent villagers were uneducated and could not converse or understand English. But some few kids surprised us, they flipped their palms open asking “ten rupees please, chocolate please. “ They could answer to all our questions only with these two phrases “ten rupees please, chocolate please.” It must have been some benevolent foreigner’s gift to the kids that prompted them to ask all the tourists the same question. These kids were between the ages two and seven.
As the pestering continued we gave all the coins we had to them. This caused a fight among the little ones and they started crying and howling over the money which brought the attention of many people around. And just as we walked away few people called us from behind and handed us the coins. It must have been one of their parents who could not settle their dispute. This incident brought few questions to our minds. Poverty was the appearance of the village yet they had remains of a great culture embedded in them.
We would like to bring to light yet another incident we came across. An elderly couple were selling some eatables for Rupees twenty. They did not have any customers so we thought of helping them by offering them some money. They gave us some eatables; we did not want to eat the food as the surroundings were not clean up to our expectation. So just to pacify our conscience we gave them Rupees Fifty which they bluntly refused. But we insisted and finally we asked them to pose for photographs which they demurely agreed. The genuinity and honesty upheld requires applause.
Although there are at least twenty temple complexes here only three or four of these are maintained with the help of UNESCO which is sadly the bitter truth. The temples here are a display of magnificent and stunning architecture. The Durga temple (8th Century) and Lad Khan temple(6th century) are the temples which captivated our minds. All the temple complexes are located in a radius of one kilometer and easily accessible either by car or foot.
A tourist can spend a day or a month visiting these monuments depending on their interest. The entire place bore an isolated look except for a few foreign tourists which saddened our spirits. This enchanting temple complex is located in the state of Karnataka in India. The neighboring tourist places are Pattadakkal and Badami which are also UNESCO world heritage sites. Aihole does not have a steady flow of tourists or the desired recognition which is disheartening. Lack of basic amenities, accessibility, accommodation facilities and expertise in tourism and travel among the villagers may be the few reasons for this destination not receiving the acceptance it deserves.
Apart from Durga temple and Lad Khan temple complexes, other temple complexes worth visiting are Gaudharagudi (5th and 6th century), Suryanarayanagudi (7th century), Chakragudi (8th century), Badigargudi(9th century), Ambigaragudi, Huchimalli (7th century), Ravanaphadi (6th century), Huchappayana (6thcentury), Jain cave temple (9th century), Mallikarjuna (10th century), Verupaksha (12th century) and the list of historical delights does not end here.
Photographer’s paradise is the synonym apt for this place. Every photographer will have the unique fascinating experience the feast this village has to offer which can be captured in each frame. We visited this place for its rustic beauty rather than its historical importance. This temple complexes and village will provide an enlightening experience and wisdom to a person who is interested in ancient historical architecture and research.
This tourist destination deserves appreciation, acknowledgement and preservation for posterity. This is the only prayer we had in our minds as we bid adieu to this village.
Nearest Airport: Belgaum (180 kilometers)
Nearest Railway station: Badami (35 kilometers)