Monday, May 21, 2007

Day 4 : Aihole

12/10/2006 - 6:30 AM

Its 6 AM on NH216. The sun is calm and I'm trying to figure out a crude oil outlet - peeping into the gauge and indicators, trying to figure whether the reserve would suffice the entire days drive. We drove into the country roads. A glimpse through the wind shield proved me wrong. We were welcomed by a romantic drizzle...!

Rolls of grass frames on either sides passed through; the stretches covered completely by Sunflower gardens, forest weeds and ferns, looked exhilarating. Looking forward to being wowed by the scenery en route, we drove. Single lane roads, totally deserted, cool breeze, and the sun trying to wake himself up. Roads minus potholes and humps, added to the good drive. Lit by the morning sun, nature displayed its gorgeous palette.

We drove towards Aihole via Aminaghada, famous for its 'KaraDHantu'. A stop here for a tank fill, and for a few 'kilos' of the world famous Karadanghu. One 'should' take this route to Aihole and should never be missing a stop here. A feast to your salivary glands and gastric juices! Blessed were we. :-)

Streaming lines of brush strokes, within the frame of my moving window; A pit stop now and then, when a temple was see in the frame.

This set the tone for a brilliant day!! The air was energizing.....

The first temple the reddish structure suddenly emerged from within monotonous greens, which had masked them all this while. We were indeed excited! The first monument which caught my sight - a huge Basava under a Tamarind tree, made us spellbound. We were at the 'Tara Basavanna Temple'.

Wherever one looks, it's temples that meet the eyes. Intricately carved, rich in detail, quiet and peaceful. Mute witnesses of a bygone era.

Sunlight flooded the sight, sisps of shifting clouds, dotted with houses and temples, adding to this were long line of back packers. We were nearing our first destination, famously known as the "Cradle of Indian architecture" - 'Aihole' has over a hundred temples scattered around the village.

# The Hutchimalli Temple - out in the village - has a sculpture of Vishnu sitting at-top a large cobra; dates back to the 6th Century.

# The Ravalphadi Cave - Temple celebrates the many forms of Shiva. Not-to-be-missed is the Konthi Temple Complex (kwanthi Gudi), the Uma Maheswari Temple, the Jain Meguti Temple and the two-storeyed Buddhist Temple.

# The oldest temple here is, perhaps, the LadKhan temple dating back to 450 AD, built by early Chalunkyas. It was built originally as panchayat. On the roof of the temple
is another shrine. There is a Chalukyan royal emblem and a stone ladder outside.

# The Durga Temple(640-680 AD) is notable for its semi-circular shape, elevated plinth and the gallery that encircles the sanctum. It was built by Vikramaditya II. The interior is filled with fascinating carvings - Narasimha, Harihara, Ardhanarishwara, Mahisasura Mardini can be seen…In this same complex, is the first model of an intricately carved lathe-turned pillar.

# Megutthi Temple was built by Ravi Kirthi, the poet in the court of Chalukya Pulakeshi 2nd. Its a jain temple with Mahavira in the Sanctum. Climb up the stairs and you'll come across a tranquil, smiling Buddha carved on the ceiling.

All the temple are maintained by, Archeological Survey of India. The temples are surrounded by manicured green lawns and beds of well tended flowers.

This is Aihole, the earliest Capital of the Chalukyas. Today, a picturesque village nestling on the banks of the river Malaprabha and overflowing with clusters and clusters of the most beautiful temples.....

We drove further, unfolding some incredible views. Yellow hue on the grass caused by the carpet of wild flowers; a perfect spot to catch on some lost reading, but was not privileged to do so. :-(Collected a few memorabilia as usual - Stones and plants and ferns and Bonsais to fit into natural mural; some flowers and leaves to preserve between sheets.

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