Durga Temple, Aihole
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 central nave has a higher flat roof raised over a sort of clerestory in front of the cella-entrance, and two lateral aisles have sloping roofs, at a lesser height than the central roof. The aisles of the maha-mandapa are continuous on either side, with a closed inner circumambulatory between the inner or outer walls of the cella, which again has a sloping roof. The adhishthana of the apse is projected forward into the porch like front mandapa of a lesser width with four pillars in two rows. The reliefs on the adhishthana and outer wall are cantoned by pilasters and enclose niches which are framed by shrine-fronts of all the patterns of northern and southern vimanas, kuta, sala, panjara, udgama, etc., and contain bold sculpture. The four recesses, two each between the three bays on the north and south sides and two more between the three bays round the apse-end, are provided with perforated windows. Over the inner wall of the cella perhaps rose the original apsidal griva and sikhara, as in the temples at Ter and Chejarla either with a wholly-solid core or supported by props inside.
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. This is also indicated by an inscription of Chalukya Vikramaditya II (733-46) on the ruined gopura at the south-eastern part of the enclosing-wall. 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.
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