Pattadakal group of monuments & Aihole group of monuments

Pattadakal & Aihole: A Captivating Visual Journey & Guide

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Pattadakal and Aihole are important cultural and religious sites in Karnataka, India. The two places, along with the Badami rocks, have a distinct significance in the history of temple architecture, contemporary texts, and inscriptions in India. These spots served as centers for experimentation for the Chalukyan Kings, who tried and tested different structural architectures for temples since the 5th century.

Situated around the eponymous villages, Pattadakal and Aihole are archaeological sites featuring over 120 stone and cave temples. Farms and sandstone hills surround these and span along the Malaprabha river valley in the Bagalakote district of Karnataka.

If you want to visit these places, we have the perfect visual guide to assist you. You can use this to plan your journey and navigation while exploring the places. We’ll also share necessary information, including timings, costs, monuments, etc. Let’s jump right in.

Pattadakal & Aihole, Karnataka

Lakshmi Narasimha sculpture at Pattadakal
Lakshmi Narasimha sculpture at Pattadakal

How To Reach Pattadakal And Aihole?

Roadways are the best way to reach Pattadakal and Aihole. We departed from Badami early in the morning to visit the two sites. This helped us beat the rush and the tropical weather.

By Rail

The nearest railway station to Pattadakal and Aihole is Badami Railway Station (Station code: BDM). You’ll have to take a bus from here to Pattadakal or Aihole.

By Road

Direct buses are available to reach Pattadakal and Aihole from Badami. Buses are also available to and fro between Pattadakal and Aihole.

After exploring the monuments at Pattadakal, you can hop on another direct bus to Aihole.

Be aware that the frequency of buses between Pattadakal and Aihole is less – once every one or two hours. The wise thing to do is to ask for the timings for at least the next two buses.

Important Things To Note

Durga temple complex, Aihole
Durga temple complex, Aihole
  • Pattadakal and Aihole can be explored in a day if you start early.
  • Although the monuments at Pattadakal and Aihole are archaeological sites in India, the former structures and sites were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1983.
  • The description of each monument is placed near the entrance in Kannada, Hindi, and English.
  • There are no accommodation options in both places. You have to either stay in Badami or Vijayapura (Bijapur). As mentioned, there are direct buses to Badami, and the route to reach Vijayapur is Aihole – Amingad – Hungund – Vijayapura.
 
  • Small vendors selling refreshments like cool drinks, snacks, and fruits will set up their stalls near the entrance. Although we found a couple of dine-in restaurants in both places, we didn’t eat there. So, we aren’t sure if the ambiance and the food are good.
  • Airtel and Jio offer good connectivity in the region.
  • The people in this region communicate either in Kannada or Hindi. Very few people can communicate in English.
  • There are no ATMs in the region. So based on where you’re coming from, you might have to take a detour to find ATMs. Thus, it is best to carry enough cash with you on your journey.
  • Pattadakal and Aihole can be visited throughout the year. During the day, the best time to visit is during the early hours of the morning. You can avoid crowds and the harsh, humid weather.
  • Restrooms and drinking water are available on the premises.
  • Dedicated cloakrooms are not available. But you can keep your luggage inside the ticket counter after requesting the officials.
  • There are over 150 Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist monuments in the Pattadakal-Badami-Aihole sites. Numerous archaeological discoveries are preserved here, including pre-historic dolmens and cave paintings. Some of the structures and artifacts date back to the period between the 4th and the 10 century CE.

Cost

Archaeological Museum, Aihole

Entry fees must be paid by cash or online by scanning the QR code at the ticket counter near cave temple 1. You can also visit https://asi.paygov.org.in and follow the simple steps.

  • Entry Fee for Pattadakal: INR 40 for Indian citizens, INR 40 for SAARC/ BIMSTEC citizens, INR 600 for foreign citizens, FREE for children below 15 years of age
  • Entry Fee for Aihole: INR 25 for Indian citizens, INR 25 for SAARC/ BIMSTEC citizens, INR 300 for foreign citizens, FREE for children below 15 years of age
  • Entry Fee to Aihole Archaeological Museum: INR 5
  • Photography for personal use (without a tripod): Free 
  • Videography for personal use: INR 25
  • Film shooting: INR 50,000 per day and security deposit of INR 10,000

Please note that the tickets purchased are valid only on the date of purchase.

Twin’s tip: Indians and foreigners can avail of a discount of Rs. 5 and Rs. 50, respectively, if they purchase their tickets through the online portal.

Timings

  • Monuments at Pattadakal and Aihole: 6 AM – 6 PM, open on all days
  • Archaeological museum: 9 AM – 5 PM, closed on Fridays

Guide

You can opt for a licensed guide near the ticket counter. They charge around INR 1000 to walk you through the cave temples of Pattadakal. While they do, they also share tales and insights about the place. For Aihole, you will incur separate charges. So, if you opt for a guide, utilize them wisely. Ask them questions, have conversations, and learn about these ancient structures.

Monuments At Pattadakal

Numerous Shiva Lingas in Pattadakal

Pattadakal is also called Kisuvolal, meaning “valley of red soil,” Raktapura meaning “city of red,” and Pattada-Kisuvolal, meaning “red soil valley for coronation.”

Here, the group of monuments are located on the same premises.

Virupaksha temple, Pattadakal
Virupaksha temple, Pattadakal

The Virupaksha Temple is an active shrine where Hindus worship even today.

Besides gods, demi-gods, and human figures, narratives from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Bhagavata are inscribed in an intricate manner. Other notable buildings in the complex include:

  • Papanatha temple
  • Kasivisveshavara temple
  • Jambulinga temple
  • Galaganatha temple
  • Mallikarjuna temple
  • Sangameshvara temple
Carved ceilings at Pattadakal
Carved ceilings at Pattadakal

Monuments At Aihole

Durga temple complex at Aihole
The grand entrance of the Durga temple, Aihole
The grand entrance of the Durga temple, Aihole

Unlike Pattadakal, Aihole is an explorer’s haven. There are about 100 temples, of which 50 are grouped in a single region, and the remaining 50 are scattered. According to believers and pilgrims, 22 of these are said to be the most important. Interestingly, most Vaishnavite temples were later converted to Saivite ones. 

You will also be quite fascinated by the temple tower of Sikhara. It comprises several shrines designed in a distinct way that captivates your attention. The shrines in the Gal-Aganatha and Mallikarguna have an octagonal domical finial under the Dravida style tower. The Huchimalli temple and Chakra Gudi are good examples of the Nagara style with a curvilinear Sikhara. There are also a couple of stepwell water tanks and an archaeological museum inside the complex.

Aihole Dolmens - inside the Jain cave temple at Aihole
Inside look at the Jain Bassadi cave temple
Aihole Dolmens - inside the Jain cave temple at Aihole

After visiting the main group of monuments highlighting the Durga temple complex and the nearby monuments, we walked for about 1 Km to see the Jain cave temple. We saw many temple complexes scattered on either side en route. We highly recommend you take a leisure walk to explore the sites around you. A few of them we saw include:

  • Konti Gudi complex
  • Trimbakeshwar complex
  • Mallikarjuna temple complex
  • Jyotirlinga temple group
  • Gauri temple complex
  • Sri Ambegera temple complex
  • Two-storeyed Buddhist temple at Meguti hill
Ceiling of Virupaksha temple, Aihole
Unfinished or damaged sculptures at Pattadakal

Most of the figures at Aihole and Pattadakal seem unfinished or damaged for various reasons. Continue your journey to visit the beautiful cave temples of Badami. There are other worthy, non-touristy things to do in Badami that you shouldn’t miss on your trip.

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