Aihole Temple complex in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka, India is a very popular tourist spot in north Karnataka. It lies to the east of Pattadakal, along the Malaprabha River, while Badami is to the west of both.
Durga Temple or fortress Temple is the best known of the Aihole Temple and is very photogenic. It is apsidal in plan, along the lines of a Buddhist chaitya, a high moulded adisthana and a tower – curvilinear shikhara. A pillared corridor runs around the temple, enveloping the shrine, the mukhamantapa and the sabhamantapa. All through the temple, there are beautiful carvings. The temple appears to be of the late 7th or early 8th century.
The Durga Temple is an example of southern (Dravidian) architectural type, with a later northern type superstructure imposed upon it-an incongruity apparent from the fact that the superstructure is a square structure clumsily fitted over an apsidal cella. The temple stands on a high moulded upapitha (sub-base), apsidal on plan and carrying a peripheral row of columns on its edge that surround the moulded adhishthana and walls of an apsidal vimana and its front mandapa. Thus the colonnade forms a covered circumambulatory with a sloping roof. The open mandapa is continued forward on a base of smaller width. The peripheral pillars of the front mandapa and those at the forward end of the circumambulatory have large statuary on them. The adhishthana inside is again apsidal, moulded with all the components, and carries the apsidal wall enclosing the inner apsidal wall of the cella or garbha-griha and a closed maha-mandapa in front of it, with two linear rows of four columns in each row that divide it into a central nave and lateral aisles.
The advanced features of the temple, the variety of evolved shrine-fronts displayed in its niches, the style of its sculpture, its diverse corbel-forms and the existence in it of a chute, water-spout and the gargoyle-like pranala-a late feature-would justify placing the temple in the eighth century. The name ‘Durga’ for the temple is misleading, since it was not dedicated to Durga, and is due to the fact that till the earlier part of the last century the temple formed part of a fortification (durga), probably of the Marathas.