Aihole, referred to as Aivalli, Ahivolal or Aryapura, is a historic site of ancient and medieval era Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monuments in Karnataka, India that dates from the sixth century through the twelfth century CE.
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The experimentation in architecture and arts that began in Aihole yielded the group of monuments at Pattadakal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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Aihole is referred to as Ayyavole and Aryapura in its inscriptions and Hindu texts from 4th to 12th century CE, as Aivalli and Ahivolal in colonial British era archaeological reports.
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Aihole has historical significance and has been called a cradle of Hindu rock architecture.
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Aihole started the experimentations with other materials such as stone around the 5th century when the Indian subcontinent saw a period of political and cultural stability under the Gupta Empire rulers.
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Aihole was fortified by Late Chalukya kings in the 11th and 12th centuries, in an approximate circle.
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Aihole served as a hub of Hindu temple arts in this period with guild of artisans and merchants called the Ayyavole 500, celebrated for their talent and accomplishments in the historical texts of the Deccan region and South India.
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Monuments at Aihole-Badami-Pattadakal show the existence and a history of interaction between the early northern style and early southern style of Hindu arts.
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Aihole became a significant archaeological site and attracted scholarly attention after the British India officials identified and published their observations.
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Aihole monuments preserve evidence of North Indian temple architecture styles that are missing elsewhere.
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Aihole was a meeting place of styles but one of several around the 6th century CE, that were on "their way to development elsewhere".
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Aihole was an early medieval era meeting place and a cradle for experimentation of Hindu arts, particularly temple architecture.
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The regional artisans and architects of Aihole region created prototypes of 16 types of free-standing temples and 4 types of rock-cut shrines to express in stone the theology of Hinduism.
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Aihole used it to coordinate his military campaign in the region.
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The life-size Lajja Gauri with lotus head, found in Aihole, is a part of the indoor collection.
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Ravanaphadi is one of the oldest rock-cut cave temples in Aihole, located less than a kilometer uphill, northeast from the Durga temple complex.
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Ambigergudi group is one of the archaeologically significant Aihole complexes situated immediately west of the Durga temple complex, near its entrance ticket office.
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Aihole sits on a platform with lions carved in its niches.
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Hindu temples at Aihole reflect a "meeting and fragmentation of styles", one that became a creative cradle for new experiments in construction and architecture yielding their local variants, states George Michell.
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Aihole temples are built at different levels, likely because the river Malaprabha flooded and its path changed over its history.
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