Trip to Badami, Karnataka

"If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday" said a very wise Pearl Buck.  So, I packed my bags and went searching for some stories from the past to a small picturesque town Badami, located in the Bagalkot district of North Karnataka. The trip would help me revisit the capital of early Chalukyas, who ruled most of Karnataka and the adjoining Andhra Pradesh between the 6th and 8th century. One can reach Badami from Hubli, the nearest airport or take a flight to Dabolim airport, Goa. We chose to land at Dabolim, due to higher number of flights from Mumbai & reached Badami after a 7-hour drive via Chorla Ghat.

Badami has a lot to offer to a tourist and can charm an archeology lover or a curious tourist, alike. We saw some beautiful sights, soaked in rich history, chatted with locals and set ourselves free from our mundane routines. The list can go on but here are our top 5 things to do in & around Badami:

Visit the Cave temples of Badami

Carved out of soft sandstone, the Badami cave temples consist of four caves, three dedicated to Hindu Gods, and the fourth a Jain Temple. They are a marvelous witness to evolving architectural styles and can enchant with their beauty. Believe me, I hated history in school but had to be dragged from here after 3 hours by my friends :-)

A Panoramic View from the Badami Caves

Perched on a hill, they all have similar layouts. The first cave is dedicated to Lord Shiva and depicts the god in his dancing form.

All smiles as we start exploring the Badami Caves

The Shiva Statue near Cave One Entrance

The second cave is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and has carvings of Lord Vishnu on Garuda and several other scenes from the Hindu puranas.

Beautiful Sculptures in the Second Cave

Intricate Detailing is a delight at the Badami Caves   

The third cave is also dedicated to Lord Vishnu and has beautiful murals depicting the divine marriage of Shiva and Parvati.

The fourth cave is dedicated to Lord Mahavira and is believed to be built about 100 years after the other three temples.

The Lord Mahavira Statue

From the cliff near the caves, one gets to view the Agastyatirtha Tank surrounded by hills. Take a moment here to admire the scene and turn it into a beautiful memory just like we did.

Admire the Chalukya monuments at Pattadakal, a world heritage site.

Pattadakal, an important tourist center and a UNESCO world heritage site, is 22 kms from Badami (roughly 35 to 40 mins by car) and 10 kms from Aihole. Once popular for Chalukyan architectural activities and royal coronation, one gets to see innovative craftsmanship in the structure of the temples that mark the blending of the Rekha, Nagara, Prasada and the Dravida Vimana styles of temple building. We spent considerable time here admiring the delicate detailing in the sculpted art forms and a harmonious blend of architectural forms from northern and southern India. An impressive series of temples at Pattadakal comprises of 10 temples, 8 in one cluster, one about half a km north of the main cluster and another located about 1.5 km northwest of the main group, but the masterpiece is the Temple of Virupaksha. Built by Queen Lokamahadevi to commemorate her husband's victory over the kings from the South, it is an exemplary edifice.

Virupaksha Temple at Pattadakal, Karnataka

One of the temples at the Pattadakal Complex

The road to Aihole from Pattadakal is quite bad but do visit it to admire its brilliant rock architecture. One of the first capitals of the Chalukyas, this small and sleepy town boasts of many a legend. Also, known as the cradle of Hindu rock architecture, the first phase of temple building in Aihole dates back to the 6th century and the second phase to the 12th century.

Enjoy a hearty meal for INR 10 (I swear, I have not missed a digit here)

Just outside the Banashankari temple, built in 7th century, locals urge you to try a hearty meal of jowar (millet) roti, one vegetable, thick dal and pungent red chili chutney. Have it with your hands like the locals and wash down the spices with fresh yogurt. I have dined across the world, but this is one meal I shall not forget soon.

The sellers might try to ask more money from the tourists, but on second thoughts, they might need it more than us ☺

Walk through sugarcane and sunflower fields.

Lush green sugarcane fields dot the roads leading to Pattadakal from Badami. We stopped many a times to pick fresh sugarcane and admire nature at its best. A long road flanked by fields of sugarcane, sunflowers and millet invited us to explore the monuments on a day blessed with a clear blue sky.

Nothing beats caressing a sunflower as it faces to reach the sun or relishing sugarcane and remembering your childhood. Nothing.

Rock Climbing

One gets to see beautiful red sand stone cliffs surrounding the Agastya Tirtha water reservoir in Badami. These sandstone cliffs have horizontal cracks, which make it a preferred destination for beginners and seasoned rock climbers. The ease in rock climbing at the sand stone cliffs of Badami has earned it the title ‘the Mecca of Rock Climbing’ among local as well as international rock climbing enthusiasts.

Badami rocks have many multiple routes and more than 150 bolted routes. The Best time to indulge in the activity is from November till February as it is a dry region and can become really hot in summers.

There was something enchanting about exploring these archeological wonders and taking back a piece of history with us. The local cuisine is basic and is served across restaurants dotted around the main market. The stay options are limited but we had a pleasant stay at Krishna Heritage in Badami.

In the end, did I find a story in the Chalukyan history? Yes, I did. I found out that the Chalukyan Era marked the fusion of cultures of northern and southern India, making way for the transmission of ideas and had tolerance towards various religious beliefs. I came back thinking....If they could, why cant we?


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