Durga Temple Aihole: Apsidal Plan and unusual architecture

Last Updated on June 21, 2022 by asoulwindow

Table of Contents

About Durga temple of Aihole

The Durga Temple of Aihole was built in the 8th century C.E. Originally devoted to the Surya Bhagwan, Durga temple is the most famous and iconic temple of Aihole.

Needless to say, the Durga temple Aihole is the most famous monument of Aihole. Durga temple is protected and maintained by Archaeological Survey of India or ASI. What also makes Durga Temple of Aihole important is the fact that it one of the pending UNESCO World Heritage Site applications. Needless to say, the Durga temple is the top sightseeing place to visit in Aihole.

Durga Temple Aihole is managed by Archaeological Survey of India or ASI. The sheer brilliance of the Chalukyan era can be seen at its full glory in the Durga Temple Aihole. Much like many other medieval temples of Aihole, Durga temple is a non-functional temple, which means that no worship is conducted here at present.

It remains a major heritage site visited by tourists from across the globe. The historical Durga temple makes for an easy and low-cost weekend escape from Bangalore and Mysore. Located away from the crowds, this lesser-visited place deserves all your attention.

This is the most information packed and detailed travelogue on Durga Temple Aihole based on my own travel here. Such deep insights are not available in other guides books and mainstream media. Here is all you wanted to know about the famous Durga Temple Aihole.

Who is the main deity of Durga temple Aihole?

From an inscription unearthed in 1970s, we now know that Durga Temple was devoted to Aditya or Surya Bhagwan and was built by someone named Kumara. However, no date has been mentioned in the inscription.

As per paleography, it is estimated that this ancient inscription cannot be later than c. 700 C.E. Images related to both Vishnu Bhagwan and Shiv Bhagwan are found here. They, along with Brahma Bhagwan form the male holy trinity as per Sanatan Dharm or Hinduism.

Where is Durga Temple Aihole located?

Durga Temple at Aihole is situated near the Malaprabha River in North Karnataka in South India. Durga Temple of Aihole, sure is off the beaten track.

When was Durga Temple Aihole constructed?

The archaeologists and historian didn’t notice any inscription here which can date the temple with accuracy. It is estimated by the historians that Durga Temple was built between late 7th century and early 8th century C.E. under the rule of Early Chalukyas. This historic site in Karnataka is a must-visit!

The Badami cave temple complex and Durg temple of Aihole was built around the same time. This is also why I observed several common features between both of the monuments. Many carvings are quite similar in both Durg temple and caves of Badami.

Rock cut Badami caves in Karnataka
Rock cut Badami caves in Karnataka

Who built Durga Temple?

Who built Durga Temple at Aihole? This is a commonly asked question . Durga Temple at Aihole was constructed by the powerful Chalukya dynasty. Chalukyas had also built the larger-than-life monuments at Elephanta Caves of Mumbai in Maharashtra state of India.

Is Parliament of India architecture same as Durga Temple

Some people say that the architecture of the Parliament House in New Delhi is inspired by the architecture of the Durga Temple of Aihole.

History of Durga Temple, Aihole

Thanks to the immense historical significance of Durga Temple in Aihole, it is well maintained and looked after. As per some historical accounts, it was also the part of fortification of the great Marathas. Durga Temple is a must-visit sightseeing place in Aihole due to its rich past and history.

Also Read: Guide to temples of Aihole

Durga Temple Aihole Architecture 

Architecture is the most talked about aspect of Durga Temple. Many social media handles can be often seen sharing pictures and videos of the Durga Temple regularly. I was spell bound seeing the unreal and deftly carved images on the walls, pillars and even the ceilings of the Durga temple Aihole. Durga temple Aihole architecture is breath-taking indeed.

In fact, it was the most beautifully carved ceiling I had seen in a Hindu temple ever. A unique blend of the northern Nagara and southern Dravidian architecture style, Durga Temple is one of its kind. This is why it is a famous tourist centre and popular pilgrim.

The magnificent architectural features of Durga Temple Aihole has few parallels in the world. There are two small steps or stairs in the north and south Mandapa. There are square pillars on the basement. Inner circle and outer circle define the heavily carved ceilings of Durga temple of Aihole. The intricately-carved corbels at their capitals are also worth a dekko.

The main features of the east facing Durga Temple of Aihole are the mukha mandapa (east-west axis), sabha mandapa, pradakshina pratha (ambulatory path) and garbha griha or the sanctum sanctorum. The pillars divide the sabha mandapa in to 3 parts.

Soul Window Thoughts

While some people say that, thanks to the colossal columns and curved shape of Durga temple, it is reminiscent of a Greek or Roman monument, I beg to differ. I feel both Indian Durga Temple and Roman era monuments have nothing in common.

That said, I did notice some similarity with the Greek architectural styles in some monuments of the Sanchi Stupa complex in Madhya Pradesh, a state in North India. This perhaps has to do with a lot of exchanges between the Greeks and the powerful Mauryan Kingdom. I even noticed a man with Greek hairstyle delicately carved on a pillar in Sanchi Stupa.

Shikhara or Vimana: Blend of architectural styles

Not many know that the Durga Temple also has a non-apsidal curvilinear temple tower or Shikhara.

I was intrigued to notice that a tower-like structure above garbhagriha known as the vimana or shikhara clearly belongs to the distinct Nagara-style architecture of North India. This is a little-known fact about Durga Temple Aihole.

I also noticed a round ridged object lying next to the Durga Temple on the ground. A tourist guide will be able to show it to you. This is known as ‘amalaka’. Once upon a time, this amalaka was placed right below the kalash on the Shikhara. With passage of time and Islamic invasions, a part of the Shikhara fell.

Durga Temple Aihole plan: Gajaprishta or Apsidal plan of Durga Temple

The unusual apsidal plan of the world-famous Durga Temple in the posterior part, makes it stand apart from other early medieval temples of Aihole. Durga Temple Aihole plan is very unusual.

The apsidal plan of the Durga temple is a rare example of early Chalukyan Hindu temple architecture. I have personally not seen a temple made with the apsidal plan.

The apsidal shape of Durga temple is known as Gajaprishta or Gajaprasta, the literal meaning of which in Kannada language is ‘back of an elephant’. Gajaprasta architecturalstyleis a subclass of the Dravida architecture style.

Durga Temple Aihole plan: Gajaprishta or Apsidal plan of Durga Temple
Durga Temple Aihole plan: Gajaprishta or Apsidal plan of Durga Temple

How to identify the Gajaprishta style of temple architecture? The temples which have a curved back are said to have the Gajaprastha architectural style. What makes Durga temple special is thatthere are very few examples of temples made in Gajaprastha design in South India! I am sure you have not seen any other temple which is built following the Durga Temple Aihole plan.

Unusual staircase

As is common in Indian temple architecture, Durga temple of Aihole is an east facing temple. But there is something interesting to note here. I also noticed the unusual entrance to the Durga temple.

There are no single flights of staircases here which face the front, as is common in other South Indian temples. Instead, there are two different steps which face sideways. While one staircase faces the south direction, the other one faces the north direction. Both steps join when they meet at the top.

Pradakshina Patha Corridor

I also recommend a walk around the apsidal ambulatory path to appreciate the artwork on the panels. This gallery encircling the Garbhagriha has some fine carvings and are not to be missed! This clockwise circumambulatory path begins from the left side of the mukhamantapa and ends on the right side.

Also notice the basement friezes and elevated plinth. Devotees walk on this covered circumambulation path in a clockwise pattern. Colossal stone columns are constructed at the periphery of the temple so that they support the roof for hundreds of years.

Interestingly, unlike the ceiling of the main temple, the roof at the Pradakshina Path corridor is a little slanted. Solid pillars made up of stone support this ambulatory path. Thanks to the apsidal plan of this Hindu temple, the bent at the far end of the corridor is easily noticeable. This means that the rear side which surrounds the sanctum sanctorum or the garbhagriha is round in shape.

Devakoshtas: Carved sculptures of Hindu deities

You should also pause and notice the carvings of Hindu Gods and Goddesses on the devakoshtas or the niches of the corridor. As many as six large sized dēvakōshtas can be seen built into the inner wall of the corridor.

Luckily, most of these sculptures have survived the test of the time and are in very good condition. You can still see all the details easily. These breathtakingly beautiful sculptures are located between pilasters known as kudyastambhas.

  • Durga ji as Mahishasuramardini: Here Durga maa, the highly revered Hindu Goddess slaying the evil demon or buffalo asura Mahishasur is depicted. This narrative sculpture is located on the north middle wall. Here, she is also seen sitting on her vahana, lion. She is shown with several hands.
  • Harihara carving: The sculpture of the fusion of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva, known as Lord Harihara is to be seen in the north eastern wall.
  • Vishnu ji riding Garuda: Here Vishnu ji can be seen Vishnu with his consort Lakshmi Maa and the vahana or vehicle called as Garuda. This sculpture is located in the south-west direction.
  • Shiv ji with Nandi ji: Here Shiv Bhagwan can be seen with his faithful vahana Nandi ji (bull). Expression on the face of Shiv Bhagwan is serene and calm. This carving is located on the south-east direction. Shiv ji can be seen with many hands here. It is one of the major attractions here.
  • Varahavatara Idol: In this sculpture Varahavatara can be seen slaying the demon known as Hiranyaksha. The bore faced deity Varaha is the 3rd avatar of Vishnu ji. This idol is located on the north west wall.
  • Narsimha Statue: The impressive statue of Narsimha Bhagvan who was the 4th avatar of Lord Vishnu is easily identifiable. The lion faced statue of Narsimha Bhagwan is situated in the south middle direction.

Jālandharas or the perforated windows

Also, worth a mention are the jālandharas or the perforated windows which are located in the corridor, in the space which exists between the above-mentioned dēvakōshtas. The jālandharas ensure proper air ventilation and passage of light inside the main area of worship.

I counted as many as 5 jalandharas on the inner wall of the pradakshina path. While visiting several temples across India, I have noticed that jālandharas or the perforated windows are quite common in the architectural styles of Hoysala and Chalukya temples of South India.

What was interesting in the jalandharas of Durga temple is that each window had different pattern from the other window. While some Jalandhara here have aesthetic patterns, others had holy religious symbols of Sanatan Dharma such as Swastika.

Below is a list of all the jalandharas of Durga temple in detail:

  • Square shaped jalandharas: This visually aesthetic window is located on the north middle wall.
  • 12 spokes Dharmachakra: Here we can see Dharmachakra design on the window.Dharmachakra is common religious symbol of Hinduism and its offshoot Indic religions such as Jainism and Buddhism. This window is located on the wall in north west direction. You can also see 12 spokes with this Dharmachakra. Floral design is also seen in the middle.
  • 8 spokes Dharmachakra: Dharmachakra with 8 spokes is located on the wall insouth west direction.
  • Rhombus shaped design: This visually pleasing jalandhara has perforations in the shape of rhombus. The repeated patterns look aesthetic and unusual. This is located on the south middle wall.
  • Swastika signs with lotus: Swastika is considered sacred in Hinduism, Buddhism as well as the Jain faith. This window can be seen on the south east wall. As many as 5 Swastika and 4 lotus symbols are seen here in alternating pattern.


I craned my neck to admire the jaw dropping carvings on the ceilings of the Mukha Mandapa which conforms to the Dravida architecture style. These were carved on a massive stone slab.

Soul Window Thoughts

I can’t help but admire the architectural and spiritual genius of ancient Indian, which when the West fails to understand, dubs as alien activity.

Though a large part of Durga temple has been lost to barbaric Muslim invaders and time, what is left also is worth singing paeans for. Many panels here are missing unfortunately. Most of the intricate artwork is concentrated in the first two bays of the ambulatory, ceilings and the decorated pillars reliefs of the entrance and Mukhamandapa.

I was particularly impressed by the internal pillars here which have beautiful carvings. The stone artwork here is to be seen to be believed. The gorgeous sculptural reliefs on all the four sides of the pillars here are worth writing home about! The slightly erotic images of amoruous couples are also carved here.

Do not miss the sculpture of Narsimha Bhagwan, Chamundi Maa and Shiv ji. I noticed that the Durga temple was constructed on a heavily moulded high plinth. Various deities, ganas or dwarf figures, mouth of Makara (a dragon-like mythical creature) and foliage designs populate the basement friezes of Durga temple Aihole.

Sabhamantapa or the congregation hall

This elaborate entrance to the sabhamantapa or the congregation hall, is the first thing you will notice as you enter the temple. The ornate carvings on the Dvārabandha are jaw dropping!Every inch of the façade of this entry point to sabhamandapa isdecorated with exquisitely carved sculptures.

Dvārabandha: Art on the entry

As I entered the Durga temple, I was welcomed by carved Dwarpalas or temple guards and scenes of artha and kama. The sacred River Ganga and Yamuna are also depicted nearby. Vertical stone beams surround the main door. I looked closely and observed gorgeous female figures or apsara carved on the beams of the outer edge. This is why I say we must not rush in places like Durga Temple Aihole. The more minutely I saw, the more I discovered.

I can spend hours studying each of the carvings at the highly decorated Dvarabandha near the sabhamantapa. The Dvarabandha surrounds the inner sanctumor the garbhagriha where the worship is done.

Sculpture of Garuda

A sculpture of Garuda, with his wings spread out on either side of the door impressed me as well. This sculpture is located on the lintel of the dvārabandha. Garuda, an eagle like bird is the vahana/savari or vehicle of Vishnu Bhagwan. This relief of Garuda is carved in to the lintel.

Garuda is depicted as clasping nagas or serpents who have heads of humans but with wings. The nagas on the other have body of snake and head of humans. The Garuda firmly holds the tails of all the 6 nagas, 3 on each side.

If you notice more deeply, you will see 7 serpent heads on the Naga in the middle on the left side. Clearly, he is the king of all serpents known as Nagaraja.

It reminded me of unique Garuda sculptures I saw in the Bhaktapur Durbar Square and Patan Durbar Square of the mountain paradise of Nepal.

Entering Garbhagriha

All of the carvings here surround a door which grants access to the main hall. I entered the garbha griha or the inner sanctorum from this door which was flanked by finely-carved pilasters on both the sides. Right above the lintel, I also noted carvings of various Gods and demigods in the niches. They were cleanly separated by aesthetic geometrical designs, each of which is carved sharply.

Soul Window Thoughts

Perfectly fitting stones were used to construct the walls that surround the garbhagriha. It amazes me to know that some of the stones were cut with inimitable precision. The perfect curvature is a proof of that.

It gives me goosebumps to think that there were no sophisticated machineries in those times in India or elsewhere and still they were successful in building such gems with high level of precision.

Inside Garbhagriha

The garbhagriha is accessed by the door in the sabhamantapa. I was crestfallen to see only a pedestal inside the main worship hall or garbhagriha. In its heydays, a beautiful idol of the presiding Hindu deity used to once exist here.

The idol which was present here could be that of either Vishnu ji or Surya Bhagwan. From the size of the remaining temple, I think that the destroyed idol must have been huge is size. Did you know about these little-known facts about Durga Temple Aihole?

Durga Temple Aihole Erotic couple
Erotic couple on the pillars of Durga Temple of Aihole

Erotic art on the Pillar of Durga Temple Aihole

Happy erotic couple (mithuna medallions) can be seen on the pillars here. The erotic sculptures are found on the pillar of the mukhamandapa. Right below the mithun shilpa, I noticed several male musicians playing different musical instruments. The engineering skills of the Badami Chalukyas had me in splits as I discovered more and observed more!

I also noticed Kirthimuka on a frieze below that. Kirthimuka is a recurrent theme in the South East Asian temples and of course, Hindu temple of India. I bent and observed even more carvings. The carving of Vidyadhara couple on the bottom most frieze stood out.

Surrounded by a circular frame, it is a sight to behold, despite its comparatively smaller size. A series of ornamental dots fill the gaps in the double circular frame. There are sculptures of several male figures on the bottom most frieze. It is quite possible that they represent wrestlers of that era.

Soul Window Observation

I saw more explicit erotic temple art in Nanda Devi of Almora, Khajuraho, Konark Sun Temple, Virupaksha Temple of Hampi, Modhera Sun Temple, Satyamurthi Perumal Temple, Lingraj Temple, Jain temple of Ranakpur and even in Bhaktapur Square of Kathmandu in Nepal.

Nataraja and Apasmāra

The dance of Shiv ji on a dwarf Apasmāra is also noticeable. Apasmāra, which is also called as Muyalakan or Muyalaka is a symbol of nonsensical speech and ignorance. To attain knowledge, Apasmāra is not killed but subdued.

Therefore, taking the form of Nataraja- the God of dance, Shiv ji performed the cosmic dance of Tandava. Therefore, Nataraja is represented as crushing Apasmāra withhis right foot.Since Apasmāra is immortal

Scenes from Ramayan

Scenes from Hindu epic Ramayana can also be observed on small panels. These panels are located near the base of the porch or mandapa. A local guide can help you identify the Ramayana panels. I walked around the inner wall of the mukhamandapa and observed some beautiful carvings depicting the episodes from Hindu epic Ramayana.

The Ramayana panel is located next to the sculptures of, Ugranarasimha killing Hiranyakashipu and Ardhanarisvara in the mukhamandapa. Scenes from Ramayana are also depicted in the grand Virupaksha Temple of Pattadakal. These are some of the hiddden gems and need a local guide to help you find these and decipher the stories depicted.

What makes Durga Temple Aihole most unique and impressive is the fact that it has the most elaborate carvings on not just the wall but the ceiling and pillars as well. What adds to the allure of Durga temple of Aihole is the fact that elements of Shaivism, Vaishnavism as well as Shaktism can be seen here. No wonder, the Durga Temple is known as an architectural masterpiece for a reason!

Carvings of Ceilings of Durga temple, Aihole

Some of the most important carvings of Durga Temple in Aihole are those of Varaha, Vrishavahana (Shiv ji with his vahan Nandi ji), Durga maa as Mahishamardini, Harihara (fusion of Shiv ji and Vishnu ji), Vishnu Bhagwan with his vahana Garuda, Narsimha avatar of Vishnu ji and many more! The carving of Mahishasuramardini killing the buffalo demon is awe inspiring! Durga Temple Aihole architecture is brilliant, to say the least!


So brilliant was its architecture that I was curious to notice each and every small details of Durg temple. The Ardhamantapa of Durga temple is located within the mukhamantapa and is not easy to differentiate for the untrained eyes. The small hall or mantapa which is surrounded by the four internal pillars is known as Ardhamantapa.

This floor is built on an elevated platform. You can arrive here by taking few steps from the east facing entrance. Dvārabandha, which also grants access to the entry in the garbhagriha via the sabhamantapa is also located nearby.

The famous bas-reliefs of Coiled Nagaraja and Matsya Chakra are located on the ceiling of sabhamantapa. It is one of the major attractions of Durga temple. The huge stone beams which rest above the internal pillars is where 2 deeply recessed square-shaped blocks are also located.

If you look up at the ceiling, then you will notice these easy-to-miss details. If you look further, you will notice slightly-curved buttresses which compartmentalises these beams. You can also see the face of crocodile like Makara here. Sculpture of makara juts out of the capitals of the pillars.

What I also found very interesting is that the roof above the recessed blocks has more height when compared to the height of the rest of the mukhamantapa. This is why I keep saying that the more you spend time at a medieval Indian temple, the more you notice and appreciate their genius.

I am talking in detail about the Coiled Nagaraja and Matsya Chakra below.

Matsya Chakra: Relief of cosmic pond on the ceiling

I noticed fish carved in the inner circle of the ceiling of Durga Mandir. The fish aren’t just ornamental. Fish double up as the 16 spokes of a central wheel. This design is surrounded by leaves and exquisite floral patterns in the outer rim. At the centre of the Fish wheel, which perhaps represents a cosmic pond, is a medallion. This is a must-see place.

I noticed a beautiful carving of the lotus flower in the center. This fish wheel or Matsya Chakra is located on the recessed block near the dvārabandha. You need to look up in the ceiling to see it. It is quite possible that the Matsya Chakra relief, which I noticed on the ceiling of mukhamantapa on the Cave number 3 of the rock cut cave complex of Badami, inspired the Matsya Chakra of Durga Temple at nearby Aihole.

My neck was hurting due to staring at the ceilings but I had just struck jackpot of Hindu architecture. No way, I was going to stop causing a little discomfort to my neck. At stake was my tryst with the ancient Hindu history! I can have a massage later anyways, if it gets too bad! This intricately carved relief is a must-see attraction of Durga Temple Aihole.

Coiled Nagaraja- King of Serpents

I also noticed a 7 hooded Naga (male serpent) in a frieze in the ceiling. There is a high possibility that the Coiled Nagaraja carving which I noticed on the ceiling of Cave 1 of Badami, inspired this more detailed relief of Nagaraja at Durga Temple of Aihole. Compared to the carving of coiled Nagaraja, I observed that there was more detail on the Nagaraja carving in Durga temple.

Not only is Nagaraja wearing a head gear or crown called as Mukut in Sanskrit, but He is also adorned in various jewelleries such as armbands, necklaces, earrings and even bangles. This highly-detailed relief is not to be missed!

While with his right hand, the Naga was holding a garland, he carried a bowl in his left hand. Not to forget, 2 gorgeous Nagins (female serpent) were sculpted on his right. What’s not to love? Yajnopavita, which is a looped threadstill worn by Hindus across the chest can also be seen on the sculpture of coiled Nagaraja.

Don’t miss: Complete Pattadakal Temples guide

Nomenclature: What is Durga temple named after?

I used to think that Durga temple of Aihole is named after Maa Durga, one of the most revered Hindu Goddesses! I was wrong! That said, Durga Mandir of Aihole does house a sculpture of Mahishasura Mardini, which has nothing to do with what it is known as. Did you know that Durga Temple Aihole was once a part of a medieval fort complex?

Aihole was going through a tough time while the Muslim sultanates and Hindu Kings were at loggerheads around 13th century C.E. Because of the cruel invasions by the Islamic plunderers, a fortified lookout was built on the top of the temple. Durga is thus named so as it stands for Durg which means fort in Kannada language.

My visit to Durga Temple in Aihole

While much of the fort part of the temple is lost to time, the Durga temple Aihole is still in excellent condition. I could not help but appreciate its beauty. This was also the temple in Aihole, I had spent the most time at. The more you stay in Durga Temple, the more you discover about the rich history and art of Hindus of India!

Much like most tourists in Aihole, I started my Aihole tour with Durga Temple as well. Many famous big and small temples of Aihole are located at walking distance from the Durga temple. There is a well-maintained garden and archaeological museum right in front of the Durga temple Aihole.

No wonder, the sculpturally resplendent Durga Temple is the top place to see in Aihole, Karnataka. Durga Temple is the number one reason why Aihole is one of the top tourist places of Karnataka.  Of all the temples I saw in Aihole, Durga Temple turned out to be the most attractive and unique.

Must Read: Temples of Badami

Was Durga Temple Aihole a Buddhist Temple?

Is Durga Temple Aihole a Hindu temple or Buddhist Temple? This is a frequently asked question on Durga Temple. It has been the topic of debate since a long time. Usually, apsidal or gajapristha style of architecture is observed primarily in the old Buddhist monuments.

Did you know that, in 19th and 20th century, many white archaeologists who were not well versed with this topic, tried to establish the fact that Durga Temple of Aihole was originally a Buddhist temple?

However, their uneducated claims fell flat when an inscription was discovered here in the 1970s.  Some foreign invaders even falsely claimed it to be a Jain temple.

The semi-circular apse of Durga temple led the western colonists to believe that Durga Temple Aihole is a Buddhist temple. However, it was far from the truth. Thankfully, that myth has been debunked!

Thanks to the intelligence of Hindu historians K.V. Ramesh (1976) and Srinivas Padigar, we now know the truth! They had translated the inscriptions, helping us understand the Hindu History of Aihole.

Another temple with apsidal plan is situated at Mahakuta. A fine specimen of early Chalukyan art, Mahakuta is located in close proximity with Aihole.

Soul Window Observations        

It was common to stereotype historical details of India by the illiterate colonial era foreign scholars. This is why I always rely on the Indian, preferably Hindu scholars when it comes to Indian topics. Thankfully, we now know that the Durga Temple is built in traditional Brahmanical form and not some misappropriation of Buddhist Chaitya Halls.

I have also said that ancient Hindus were a genius when it comes to architecture, art, music, literature, medicine and what not! The western world, with not much of an ancient history could not handle it and started spreading such lies.

The horse shoe shaped structure which resembles a Buddhist Chaitya is one of its kind of Hindu temple in South India.

Excursions from Durga Temple Aihole

Apart from visiting other temples of Aihole such as Lad Khan Temple, you can also visit many other temples around Aihole. Some of the best places to visit near Durga Temple Aihole are as below:

  • Goa
  • Aihole
  • Karwar
  • Hampi
  • Badami
  • Hubbali
  • Gokarna
  • Jog Falls
  • Shimoga
  • Dharwar
  • Pattadakal
  • Davanagere
  • Murudeshwar
  • Mattur Sanskrit Village
  • Shravanbelagola Temple

Festival of Durg Temple

The 3 days long Chalukya festival is celebrated in both Aihole as well as Badami and Pattadakal. Chalukya Festival is celebrated once a year in the month of February.

Vegan and Vegetarian Food near Durga Temple Aihole

I visited some small stalls selling fresh sugarcane juice and lemon juice. I had many servings of the juices as it helped me after all the walk in the open air. There were no proper restaurants near Durg Temple Aihole, so I advise you to carry small bites such as snacks etc before arriving in Aihole.

That said, there are some luxury hotels and restaurants in and around Aihole. However, these restaurants are expensive and may not be suitable for all pockets, especially if you are a solo, budget traveller like myself.

Is it safe to visit Durg Temple, Aihole?

This is another frequently asked question. Yes, it is very safe to visit Durg Temple Aihole. The temple is located right next to the bus stop and center of Aihole.

To be on a safer side, do not venture out alone during late night because it is a remote location and there are very few facilities here. Visiting Durga Temple Aihole is one of the best things to do with family and kids.

Souvenirs Shopping Guide to Durg Temple Aihole

There is not much you can buy here. So do not expect any souvenir shops here. You can pick packed local snacks which have a long shelf life. This is the most exhaustive blog on Durga Temple. My blog A Soul Window is the top travel blog of an Indian backpacker.

ATM near Durg Temple

Durg Mandir of Aihole is situated in a remote village, so even if you find an ATM in Aihole, chances are that they might not work or run out of cash. This is why, to avoid any hassle, do carry enough cash before you arrive in Aihole.

Photography Tips for Durg Temple

Every inch of the Durg Temple is worth taking a picture of! Many tourists miss seeing the fine details on the ceiling of this Sun temple. Do take effort to see and appreciate each and every corner in great detail. Every sculpture here is worth photographing. The golden hours during morning and evening are the best time to take pictures of Durg Temple in all its architectural glory.

Hire local tourist guide in Durg Temple Aihole

Hiring a local tourist guide in Durg Temple of Aihole can make all the difference to your Durg temple tour. The local guides can show you all the hidden spots in the temple. The guides can also explain the significance of each sculpture of Durg temple in great details. The local guides at Durg Temple charge a nominal fee, which is even lesser than what a coffee in Starbucks of India would cost.

A local guide can also take you off the touristy trail and show you the things your untrained eyes missed.

Languages spoken in Durg Temple Aihole

All the guides and local people talk and understand Kannada, which is also the main language of Karnataka. That said, many hotel owners, shop owners and those involved in tourism also speak and understand basic Hindi, English and other South Indian languages such as Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. Local villagers may or may not understand Hindi and English.

UPSC Exam question on Durg temple

There are many instances when questions on Durg temple Aihole have been asked in the UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam for IAS, PCS and IFS. This comprehensive guide to Durga temple answers all the related queries for students as well as the tourists.

Toilet facility near Durg temple

Clean public toilets are available at walking distance from Durg temple Aihole.

Entry fee of Durg Temple

A small fee is charged at the entrance of Durg temple of Aihole. You can also visit other medieval monuments of Aihole such as Jain Meguti temple with this all-inclusive ticket. Ticket prices are low for Citizens of India, and citizens from the SAARC and BIMSTEC countries. People of other nationalities have to pay more.

Backpacking Budget Travel Tips for Durga Temple Aihole

Not only Durga Temple but entire heritage arc of Pattadakal, Aihole and Badami is a backpacker delight! The pocket friendly Durga Temple is one of the most budget friendly destinations in India which I have ever visited. The inexpensive place that Aihole is, you can easily visit all the major attractions here without breaking the bank.

Solo Trip Tips for Durg Temple in Aihole

I visited Durga Temple Aihole as a solo traveller. It is in fact one of the best places to visit as a solo traveller. Places like Durga temple are best enjoyed solo rather than a large group of 4-10 people. It is common sense that when we travel solo, we see and observe more.

While I would like to travel to places like Goa, Nagaland, Gokarna etc with friends, I prefer to visit heritage places like Durga Temple alone. This is so, because I spend hours just observing the minute details of even a small temple, for example.

Luxury travel Tips for Durga Temple at Aihole

With growing Aihole tourism, some heritage properties have come up. Therefore, now you can travel in style if you have a few bucks to spare. You can hire a private air-conditioned car, visit all the touristy places of Aihole and retire in your plush luxury hotel.

Where to stay near Durg Temple

There are very few options to stay in Aihole. You can try staying in a homestay, guest houses, small lodge or even in one of those few luxury resorts of Aihole if your pocket allows you to. I personally didn’t stay due to lack of time.

I arrived at Aihole from Pattadakal and headed to Badami after sightseeing in Aihole on the same day. Howevere, I did miss out on visiting some temples of Aihole. This is why I recommend that you should spend at least 2-3 days in Aihole so that you can fully discover it.

What to wear in Aihole

Even in the winters, Aihole can he hot in the afternoon. I visited Aihole in a thin T shirt, half pants and flip flops.

Timings of Durg temple Aihole

Durg temple Aihole is open every day, except Monday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Best Time to visit Durg Temple at Aihole?


Winter is the best time to pay a visit to the Durg Temple Aihole. This is when the climate of Aihole is way cooler than other seasons. October, November, December and January are the best months to visit Durg Temple, Aihole. September, February and March are also good.


Summer can be very harsh in Durg temple Aihole. Avoid the months of April, May and June. This is when the temperature is highest in this part of the world. That said, it is still possible to visit Aihole in summer.


It is very pleasant, if not ideal to visit Aihole during the rainy season. It rains mildly in June. Whereas July and August are the months when it rains the most in Aihole.

Duration of Visit in Durg Temple, Aihole

How many days to spend in Durg Temple? What is there to do in Durg Temple? What can I do in 1 day in Durg Temple? Durga temple takes only 2-3 hours to explore in its entirety. However, if you are a tourist with no intention to delve deeper, then even 20 minutes to visit Durga Temple suffices.

You can spend the rest of the day to visit the adjoining temple complex and other temples which are scattered around Durga temple at Aihole.

Aihole Hindu temples Idols
Details of a temple in Aihole

What can I do in 2 days around Durga Temple Aihole? There are many places of interest in Aihole apart from Durga Temple. All the other tourist places in Aihole are located at walking distance from each other. 2-3 days are enough to visit all the temples of Aihole tourist attractions such as Ravanaphadi and Lad Khan Temple along with Durg temple.

Itinerary for Durg Temple

This is the itinerary I followed:

  • Arrive at Badami Railway station early morning from Bengaluru in Karnataka
  • Hire shared cabs from Badami railway station to Pattadakal.
  • Visit all the monuments of Pattadakal
  • Find a bus to Aihole from Pattadakal
  • Visit all the main attractions of Aihole
  • Leave for Badami before sun set
  • Rest in Badami
  • Next day explore Badami and leave for Bengaluru in the evening via train.

Local Transport for sightseeing in Durg Temple, Aihole

I had hired a local autorickshaw to explore all the hidden gems of Aihole. They charge reasonably and show you all the hidden spots.

How to reach Durg Temple of Aihole

Durga temple Aihole is a great weekend destination from Bangalore and Mysuru. Here are all the possible ways to reach Durg Temple of Aihole.


I arrived in Aihole from Pattadakal via a crowded rickety bus. I waited for some time outside the Pattadakal temple complex. The cost of the ticket was same as the cost of a samosa in India. Public buses are one of the cheapest ways to travel across this part of Karnataka.


Badami, Hubli and Bagalkot are all the nearest railway junctions form Durga Temple of Aihole. I arrived in Aihole from Badami railway station as a weekend getaway from Bangalore. Hubli- Sholapur meter gauge line is also popular. It is just 34 kilometers away from Durga Temple Aihole.


Some of the nearby airports from Aihole are located in Hubli, Bagalkot and Belgaum. The nearest international airport is located in the metro city of Bengaluru. Hubli, located 104 km away, is home to an Air Force Base Airport. Belgaum is 189 kilometers away.

Road Trip

You can easily drive down from Bangalore to Aihole on smooth roads. It is connected with many cities of Karnataka by road.

Distances from Durga Temple Aihole

Distance between Pattadakaal to Aihole is 13.2 kilometres and it takes 20 minutes via Pattadakal Road.

Distance between Badami to Aihole is 34 kilometres and it takes 45 minutes via Pattadakal Road.

Distance between Hampi to Aihole is 138 kilometres and it takes 3 hours via NH50.

Distance between Gokarna to Aihole is 286 kilometres and it takes 6 hours via NH52.

Distance between Mattur and Shimoga to Aihole is 351 kilometres and it takes 6 hours and 30 minutes via NH48.

Distance between Bangalore to Aihole is 446 kilometres and it takes 7 hours and 30 minutes via NH48 and NH50.

Conclusion: Is Durga temple of Aihole worth visiting?

Is Durga temple of Aihole worth a visit? Yes,Durga temple Aihole is one of the most unusual and different Sun temples I have ever visited in India. Every Indian should visit the well-preserved Durga Temple at least once in their lifetime. The unusual shape and structure of Durga Temple also makes it stand apart from other temples of not only Aihole but entire India. Do not miss this weekend getaway from Bengaluru and Mysore.

Why visit Durga Temple at Aihole? The sheer brilliance of the architecture of Durg temple is reason enough to visit. The other monuments such as Ravanphadi, Lad Khan temple and Meguti Jain Temple are also sure to keep you busy for hours. What adds to the appeal of the temples of Aihole is the fact that most of the monument here are even older than Islam religion. This is how old this place is!

The view from my Soul Window is from a bygone era!

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