Durga Temple / Fort Temple
At a distance of less than 100 meters from Aihole Bus Stand, Durga Temple, also known as Fort Temple, is the most famous monument in Aihole with striking architecture and wonderful carvings. It is located inside the main enclosed complex of Aihole monuments. The name of temple is originated from a fortification (durgam) which existed around the temple earlier.
Build between 7th and 8th centuries by Chalukyas, the temple plan in U shape resembles that of Buddhist Chaitya halls. The temple has a mukha-mandapa, a sabha-mandapa and inner sanctum with Shiva linga. The unique part of the temple is the pillared corridor around the temple that allows pilgrims to take pradakshinas around the temple. This style of architecture is called Gajaprastha (back of an elephant). The temple tower is built in Nagara style, while the dome on the tower is missing.
The mukha-mandapa and the corridor have extensive carvings. Every corner of the pillar and ceiling are beautifully carved. The ceiling has an image of circular Nagaraja, while another image is that of a lotus with 18 fishes. Important images in the temple are that of Mahishasura Mardhini, Lord Shiva and Varaha. The rear side of the temple has a wonderful carving of Ardhanareeswara. Every pillar in the mukha-mandapa has extensive relief work of couples in different postures.
The inner walls of the verandah have beautiful artwork. The lattice windows that provide ventilation to the sabha-mandapa are quite attractive.
There is a large wonderfully built gateway towards southern side of the temple, which is believed to be the main entrance to the temple when it was fortified.
Complex Timings: 9 AM to 5 PM
Entrance: Rs. 5, Rs. 25 for camera.