Badami, Aihole, and Pattadakal form a part of trail of off-beat Karnataka. These 3 places are rich in history and architectural wonders! After being entices by the photos and stories, my friend and I packed are bag for this off-beat Karnataka trail!
How to reach Badami?
My friend and I booked our tickets from Goibibo from Mumbai to Bijapur (INR 2400 to and fro). We got a bus from Santacruz at 6 pm on 22nd Dec (Friday evening after office) and reached Bijapur on 23rd i.e. a Saturday around 6 : 30 am.
We took a train from Bijapur for Badami, and auto rides to Aihole and Pattadakal
Internal Travel In Badami, Aihole & Pattadakal
There are plenty of autos outside Badami station and you can go ahead with any prior booking with anyone.
However, if you want someone reliable and safe – I’d highly recommend Mr. Manjunath (+91 8105197021).
Good to know:
Badami was previously known as Vataapi Badami, the capital of the early Chalukya dynasty, which ruled much of Karnataka from the 6th to the 8th century.
It is situated on the west bank of a man-made lake ringed by an earthen wall with stone steps; it is surrounded on the north and south by forts built in later times.
We explored Gol Gumbaz immediately after getting off the bus and left for Badami after 2 hours.
Read: 2 days in Bijapur
We reached Vijaypur station (INR 20 ) in an auto that we caught right outside Gol Gumbaz. We took a train ticket to Badami (INR 100 each) from Vijaypur station and left for a 2-hour journey to Badami. The trains to Badami are frequent and do not need prior booking
Alternatively, you can also take a bus from Gol Gumbaz.
Museum and Bhoothnath Temple
are adjacent to each other and you need to beware of the monkeys there. Unfortunately, we were the only ones being attacked and these monkeys are the MOST NOTORIOUS monkey brats I’ve ever encountered!
Keep your valuables and food in the vehicle itself and walk freely (This is for the monkeys to know that you are not hiding any food)
A kilometre ahead are the caves which are considered an example of Indian rock-cut architecture and especially Badami Chalukya architecture, which dates from the 6th century.
In Cave 1, among various sculptures of Hindu divinities and themes, a prominent carving is of the Tandava-dancing Shiva as Nataraja. Cave 2 is Vishnu as Trivikrama. The largest cave is Cave 3, featuring Vishnu-related mythology, and it is also the most intricately carved cave in the complex. Cave 4 is dedicated to Jainism.
Around the lake, Badami has additional caves of which one may be a Buddhist cave. Another cave was discovered in 2015, about 500 meters (1,600 ft) from the four main caves, with 27 Hindu carvings.
After reaching the entrance of the caves, we spotted monkeys around and we decided to not visit the caves because there were more on top. However, we saw a swarm of tourists on the top unaffected by the monkeys.
We visited 3 local temples, prayed and left. Near temple 3, there was a local boy aged around 10-11 who was literally harassing us and the activities were not at all childlike. We asked for some help from an uncle but he didn’t want to even tell him a word. Just beware and be ready to help yourself out in such scenarios. Carry pepper spray /chili powder for your safety.
I had read on a few blogs about a spot where there are a lot of sunflowers. Unfortunately, Manjunath didn’t know of any. While we were heading home, I spotted sunflower fields! I yelled and asked him to halt. We saw a stunning sunset while in the fields.
After a sumptuous dinner of dosas at a local hotel and retired for the day since we had plans of getting up at 4 the next day.
How to reach?
We called Manjunath at 4:30 am and left for Pattadakal. We reached by 5:30 am and the gates opened at 6.
With no houses in the vicinity, pitch black roads, and an hours ride, we could have been in much much trouble if we did not have a decent driver with us. If you are worried about your safety, you can leave around from your hotel or call Manjunath!
Entry fee for Pattadakal– INR 40. Time required 1-2 hours.
We left for Krishna River Sangam to see confluence of 2 rivers after Pattadakkal. We traveled 2 hours one way and were really disappointed in not seeing two distinct rivers meet. The meeting point was just like a normal river flow.
But of course, the river was mighty. The flow was gorgeous and one of its kind experience since we could see the river from a protruding bridge hanging on it. Despite the long travel, I would suggest visiting this place if you have time but also can be skipped.
Good to know:
Patadakkal was where early Chalukyan kings used to be crowned. The Dravidian Vimana style of architecture was given a final go-ahead. The early Chalukayan art was known for its grace, vigor, rich imagination and delicate details. You can see illustrations and narratives from the stories and epics of Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavat Gita.
Aihole, 35km from Badami is famous for Jain, Buddhist, and Hindu monuments from 4th to 12th century! The fell for the architectural styles during this time! It was an important place during the Chalukya reign.
Parashurama, the sixth Vishnu avatar, is stated in these legends to have washed his axe here after killing abusive Kshatriyas who were exploiting their military powers, giving the land its red color
We were disappointed by the way these monuments were maintained. In fact, they were not maintained at all! Poverty amongst the locals had forced them to built their dwellings in and around the monuments!
A monolithic temple is called Ravanpahadi. It is said that Raavan installed a stone pillar marking his victory in front of this stone which is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
It has a Shiva Gangadhara, c. 600 CE, which shows the great god gently lowering Ganga – to earth using his hair, kitchen, yoga illustrations, ganesh, goddess and other mythological stories.
And do you know the most interesting part? A fellow cleaner with a broom told us the stories of this monument for TWO HOURS with a tip of just INR 50!
The pillar is towards the left (not in the picture) right at the entrance of Ravanpahadi.
A panorama of insides of Raavanpahadi. From the left, 10 armed Nataraja, Shivalinga and a kitchen (we saw minute holes where spices were ground).
The Ravula Phadi cave has a ten-armed Shiva dancing along with the Saptamatrikas, Ganesh, etc. Any theories on how this was sculpted in the early 6th century with raw tools and no reference?
Yoga poses dating back to early AD period!
The Huchchappayana Matha
There are two parts here- one of a temple and another of Matha. The Ganga-Yamuna are in a triple bend pose here. at the entrance. These show an amazing craftmanship of 4th Century!!
This Matha has inscriptions dated 1077 AD!
The ceiling has Trimurty sculptures. What are your theories on the ceiling designs done without any reference in the 5th century?
The Durga temple near the entrance to the main temple complex has a ‘U’ shaped structure, thought to imitate the Buddhist chaitya halls. And we were told this is the temple which inspired the architectural plans of India’s parliament building.
We reached home by 6 pm and retired for the day.
Manjunath dropped us to Badami station at 6am where we left for Bijapur.
Read Bijapur Chronicles of Day 1 & 2.
Where to stay?
Staying in Badami is the best option and travelling to Aihole and Patadakkal from Badami is advisable.
We had not made any prior stay reservations, a huge mistake! Stay options in Badami are limited and you need to book it asap!
Costs for exploring Badami, Aihole, and Pattadakal
- Manjunath charged us ~INR 3000 for all the mentioned days.
- Hotel and food cost for 2N2D was ~INR 1000 per person.
- We spent INR 100 per person for a train ticket and waited for our train with hoards of monkeys! We had to be very cautious of our belongings since some notorious monkeys were also stealing things! We were the happiest as soon as we boarded the train half an hour later. Please check the train timings with any local / Manjunath and reach there an hour earlier.
Totaling per person Badami expense to ~INR 3000/-. Please note: these costs are as on December 2018.
After 2 hours, we reached Bijapur to explore the remaining city. Read here.
Other blogs that you might like:
Read Bijapur Chronicles of Day 1 & 2 here.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog on Badami, Aihole, and Pattadakal – offbeat Karanataka. Share it with your friends when you are planning this trip!