Aihole, in Bagalkot district, is the most popular tourist spot in North Karnataka. It is known for its Chalukya-style architecture, with 125 temples dating from the 5th century.
Bijapur, officially known as Vijayapura (city of victory), was founded by the Chalukyas between the 10th and 11th centuries. It was later conquered by Adil Shahi dynasty in the 14th century, during which many important monuments were built.
Also Read : Bagalkot - The Heritage City
The city is truly a melting pot because of the influences from various dynasties that have ruled here. Pattadakal, Badami, Kudalasangama, Almatti, etc., are other noteworthy Chalukya-style heritage places that you can visit on the way from Aihole to Bijapur.
Starting Point: Aihole
Best Time To Visit: October to February. Avoid summer, as the temperatures can touch 40 degree C.
The best way to reach Bijapur from Aihole is by road. Neither of the places have an airport or a railway network, thereby making roadways the convenient means of travel. Aihole to Bijapur is 111 km and there are two routes that you could take.
Route 1: Aihole - Almatti - Kudgi - Mangoli - Bijapur, via NH50.
Route 2: Aihole - Bagalkot - Girisagar - Kolhar - Bijapur, via NH52.
PC : Nagaraj
If you settle on Route 1, it takes 112 km and 2 h 15 min to reach Bijapur from Aihole. Opting on route 2 will add another 10 km to the drive and this takes 2 h 33 min to reach Bijapur.
You could enjoy this journey in 3 days from start to end. We suggest that you choose one of the long weekends for this travel filled with architectural wonder.
Aihole has many temples scattered around the village. You would need to spend major chunk of your time at Aihole. Some of the must-see temples are Mallikarjuna Temple Complex, Durga Temple, Lad Khan Temple, Huchimalli Temple, Ravana Phadi cave Temple. After marvelling at the temples at Aihole, you can visit Pattadakkal, which has all the temples inside one complex.
Also Read : Lad Khan - A Hindu Temple In Aihole
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The temples are built in different architectural styles including Rekha, Nagara (Northern) and Dravidian (southern) styles. Virupaksha temple, Sangameshwara temple, Kashi Viswanatha temple, etc., are some of the must-visit temples.
On the way to Mahakuta is Banashankari, which has a beautiful temple in the honor of Goddess Banashankari or Shakambari, built by the Rashtrakuta dynasty. The temples at the temple complex of Mahakuta are dedicated to Lord Shiva. They are still being used for worship, unlike Aihole and Pattadakkal.
Freshen up a bit, and travel towards Badami, formerly known as Vatapi. The Badami cave temples are carved out of red sandstone on a gigantic hill and are considered to be the best example of an Indian rock-cut architecture. Agasthya Lake, Mallikarjuna Temple and Bhoothanatha Temple are some of the must-visit temples in Badami.
Day 2: Kudalasangama - Almatti
Kudalasangama in India is one of the important centers of pilgrimage for people of the Lingayat faith. It is the birthplace of Basavanna who was the founder of this faith. On the river bank where rivers Krishna and Malaprabha meet, the Sangameshwara temple which was built in the Chalukyan style is situated.
Another major attraction of Kudalasangama is the Aikya Mantapa that has the samadhi of Basavanna along with Linga, which is believed to be self-born (swayambhu). The spiral staircase is raised to reach the main Linga.
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Almatti Dam is 15 km from Kudalasangama. It is a hydroelectric project on river Krishna. Entry into the dam area is restricted for public. However, there are seven beautiful terrace gardens that have been developed as a picnic spot. Musical and stagnant fountains have been established to attract visitors. This dam also has a boating facility.
Day 3: Bijapur
You could completely book this day for Bijapur alone. You would witness architectural styles from 14th-16th century. Ibrahim Rauza, also called "The Taj Mahal of the Deccan", was built by Ibrahim Adil Shah during 16th century. It houses a mosque and his tomb.
After this, you can visit Bara Kaman, built by Ali Adil Shah. Ali Adil Shah was killed by his father Muhammad Adil Shah who did not want Bara Kaman to lessen the glory of Gol Gumbaz which was dedicated to himself. Therefore, Bara Kaman remains unfinished.
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Next, you can visit Gol Gumbaz, which is one of the largest domes in the world. Gol Gumbaz has four minarets that are the staircases leading to the top dome. The staircase is a bit tough to climb, as the steps are very steep.
The 'Whispering Gallery" is a major attraction at the Gol Gumbaz, where even the smallest of the whispers can be heard. After this, you can visit Jamia Masjid, which is one of the largest and oldest mosques in Southern India. The interiors of the mosque have gorgeous carvings, paintings and murals. Some of the other must-see places in Bijapur include Upli Buruj, Malik-e-Maidan and Gagan Mahal.
Also Read : Attractions In Bijapur