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File:6th century Ravanaphadi cave temple, Shaiva guardian and Harihara (half Shiva half Vishnu), Aihole Hindu monuments Karnataka.jpg

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English: Aihole temples and monuments, also called Aivalli or Ayyavole or Aiholi temples and monuments, are a collection of over 100 temples built predominantly between 6th and 8th century near Malaprabha river in Karnataka. At this point, the river turns northwards towards the Himalayas which likely had significance as a location.

Though defaced and damaged after the region was conquered by Muslim commanders of the Delhi Sultanate, the collection is one of the earliest surviving temples and window to ancient Indian arts, religious beliefs, society and architecture. Almost all temples are related to Hinduism, but these co-exist with a few Jain temples of this period and one Buddhist monument. Both north Indian and south Indian styles fuse here, with monuments suggesting experimentation of ideas and building styles under the sponsorship of late Gupta period Hindu kingdoms, particularly the Calukyas and Rashtrakutas.

The Ravanaphadi cave temple is a 6th century Hindu temple carved into a stone cave. It is dedicated to Shiva. The entrance is eroded likely from weather exposure and has two dwarapalas as well as a seated Nandi facing the Shiva linga inside.

The inner part of the cave has a rectangular verandah followed by a square hall, a square garbhagriha and a square monastery like empty hall. The empty hall may have served as residence for sadhus / monks during monsoons or may indicate that the temple was left incomplete in early medieval times.

The Ravanaphadi temple has one of earliest collection of key Hindu theological concepts in the region, such as Harihara or equivalence and unity of Shiva and Vishnu; Ardhanarishvara or equivalence of male and female principle (equal, necessary and dependent halves); divinity in arts through Nataraja showing Natya Shastra classical dance postures; Durga as Mahishasuramardini and Saptamatrikas (Shaktism, nature of evil and victory of good, seven aspects of protective mothers); the divine rescuing goddess earth (Vaishnavism, Varaha avatar lifting Bhudevi); and others. Vedic deities Indra and Indrani are carved in the ceiling, as are Vishnu and Lakshmi. Three major pan-Indian river goddesses are reverentially included.
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Author Ms Sarah Welch
Camera location16° 01′ 20.52″ N, 75° 53′ 03.43″ E  Heading=51.406772575251° Kartographer map based on OpenStreetMap.View this and other nearby images on: OpenStreetMap - Google Earthinfo

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