The villages of Pattadakal & Aihole close to Hampi are considered by UNESCO to be a masterpiece of architectural design and the cradle of temple architectural evolution, showcasing a seamless fusion of several northern Nagara and southern Dravidian styles of architecture.

Pattadakal, on a bend of the River Malaprabha, is home to a cluster of temples of the same name. Meaning ‘Coronation in Stone’, these Pattadakal served as the site of coronations for the Chalukaya Kings between the seven and eighth centuries. They were probably built on the site of an earlier temple, as excavations show distinct signs of worship going back some 3000 years. 

The earliest and largest of the Pattadakal temples, the Sangameshwara, was commissioned by King to commemorate his victory over the Pandayan kings of the west coast, while the two adjacent temples, the Virupaksha and Mallikarjuna were built by two sisters and successive queens, of the same king, to commemorate of his victorious return from later military campaigns.  It's worth wandering through the complex to pick out the highlights of each.

Aihole, a short distance away, offers interested visitors over 125 temples scattered throughout the village, the countryside, and on nearby hills.  Some of these pre-date Pattadakal by some distance but have lasted the test of time despite the village growing around them and some of them even being used as housing and as livestock shelters.  The most architecturally distinct temples are now protected inside a well-maintained compound by the architectural survey of India. These include the unique oval-shaped Durga Temple, with a semi-circular sanctum and the Ladh Khan temple, a Hindu Shiva Temple, commissioned and built by a Muslim resident of the village.  

A small number of pre-historic Dolmen burial sites and cave paintings are also found in the countryside surrounding these villages and can be visited if, you are not shy about a short hike uphill, or getting your boots muddy.


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