Aihole is a temple complex in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka, India. It 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. Aihoḷe has the potential to be included as a UNESCO World heritage site. Aihoḷe is 510 km from Bangalore and 26 km from Hungund by road. Aihoḷe is one of the most notable places in the history of art of Karnataka. Aihoḷe was known as Ayyavoḷe and Aryapura in its inscriptions.
It was a prominent city of the Chalukya Dynasty. A place known by the name Morera Angadigalu near the Meguti hillocks has a large number of cists of pre-historic period. The place was an agraharam. The village has 125 temples divided into 22 groups by the archaeological department. Aihoḷe has been described as one of the cradles of temple architecture. Of late some brick structures of pre-Chalukyan times have also been excavated. It must have been a great ancient city, a commercial centre as well, with the federation of trade guilds having its headquarters here.
Early inscriptions call this town Āryapura and Ārya-vole. According to mythology Aihole is the place where Parashurama washed his axe after killing the Kshatriyas. Aihole has historical significance and is called as cradle of Hindu rock architecture (Cradle of Indian architecture). Many temples and caves of historical importance can be found at Aihole. Aihole was the first capital of the early Chalukyas. Here they built over 125 temples in various styles and is said to be a laboratory of experiments in rock cut architecture. Pulakesi I, one of the greatest rulers of this dynasty, moved the capital to Badami nearby. Badami was then known as Vatapi. It is from these temples that the Chalukyas gained their experience and went on to build the great temples of Pattadakal. The first phase of temple building in Aihole dates back to the 6th century CE, the second phase up to the 12th century CE. Some temples were even built as early as the 5th century CE.
The famous Badami Chalukyas King Pulakeshi II (610-642 A.D.) was a follower of Vaishnavism. The inscription of Ravikirti, his court poet, is a eulogy of the Pulakeshi II and is available at the Meguti temple. It is dated 634 CE and is written in Sanskrit language and old Kannada script. The Aihole inscription describes the achievements of Pulakeshi II and his victory against King Harshavardhana. Aihole inscription of Pulakesin II mentioned as akrantatma-balonnatim Pallavanam patim, that means the Pallavas had attempted to nip in the bud the rise of the Badami Chalukyas. The conflict of the two powers before the campaign of Pulakesin II against the Pallavas.
Inscription which prepared by Pulakeshi II (634 AD) found in the Jain Temple at Aihole, that all the scholars have relied on this inscription related to Mahabharath War and Kaliyuga. In the Aihole inscription referred that Mangalesha's (Paramabhagavat) victory over the Kalachuris and the conquest of Revatidvipa. According to the Aihole inscription of Pulakeshin II, a civil war between Mangalesha and Pulakeshin II, due to Mangalesa's attempt to secure the succession for his own son, which was the end of Mangalesha's reign. In inscription of Amoghavarsha I found at Aihole, mentioned about his new administration (navarajyam geyye).