As can be seen from this last pic above, the sunlight had become quite harsh by now, and the day hot. My tour of the North Fort ended thus, and frankly speaking, there’s nothing much which remains to be seen here anymore. The walk among the rocky pathways is, of course, something to talk about.
I had to come to the rocks again though, to capture the lake and the Bhootnath temples during sunset, but not before doing a quick tour of Aihole ( pronounced Ai-Holay ), another of the architectural gems of these Chalukyan lands. I returned back to my room, and after freshening up quickly, took the 1 hour bus ride to the village ( Buses from Badami to Aihole run at a frequency of 1 hour, as against half an hour for Pattadakal ). There was no time to be wasted !
A pleasant ride sitting all by yourself and enjoying the wind on your face; quaint little villages and large agricultural fields passing by, these public bus journeys are a bliss where you just live in each passing moment. Everything is new, and a feast to the eyes, so I was soaking in as much of the landscape as I was getting to see. I knew Aihole had arrived as soon as I spotted few old structural remains on one of the hills in it’s vicinity. There was a walled fortification as well that I remember noticing. This, perhaps, is the Meguti Hill overlooking the town, and must be included in a complete tour of this place. I didn’t have that kind of leisure this time.
The bus entered Aihole village through a small lane, and well, temples had started springing up to the left and to the right, even as we were just at the periphery. And then I noticed something rather unusual. This is a hamlet which looks frozen in time, with human dwellings competing for space with these age old monuments so much so, that an inhabitant can easily call upon you to visit a 1000 yr old temple in his ‘backyard’ ! People are still living amidst all these cultural treasures, and sadly, inside some of these too.
I was trying to take in all of these sights when the main set of monuments came into view ( properly enclosed, with encroachments cleared and beautiful lawns ready to welcome you ! ). The bus dropped me at the entrance to the complex, the driver reminding me that buses back to Badami can be had with every passing hour.
After a satisfactory lunch at the KSTDC hotel nearby ( highly recommended ), I bade some time therein with another co-passenger of mine. We decided to wait for the sun to relent a little, but both of us had our own itineraries to catch up with. We walked out and started our exploration, first with a temple outside the complex, and then entering the same nevertheless in the interest of time. It was agreed that a complete exploration of the place would require a stay-back here, at least for 1 night, and even then, it would be a hurried one considering the abundance of architecture, and harsh-sun days through most parts of the year.
We decided to concentrate on the main temple complex for the time being, and well, it requires close to an hour to cover in itself. We used our time wisely, visiting a museum inside the complex as well, and strolling along for the rest of the part. The sun did not allow me to take nice shots here as it did in Pattadakal, but then my hurried itinerary was to blame for the same. Nevertheless I managed a decent shot of the most celebrated monument, the ‘Durga’ temple, which is dedicated to the Sun God actually.