After visiting Aihole and Bijapur, we started our journey towards Pattadakal, which was just 10 kms from Aihole. Ever since I read ‘Temples of South India’ book I was very curious and excited about these UNESCO World Heritage Sites and added it to my bucket list. Since we are travelling on our own it was quite easy for us to cover Bijapur-Aihole-Pattadakal-Badami stretch.
Bagalkot District of Karnataka is blessed with some amazing historical sites of Ancient Indian like Badami, Pattadakal. These places were the most important centers of Chalukyan Empire. These three places are located in the close vicinity of each other and with a bit of planning can be covered in a single day.
Places to Visit in Badami:
Badami can be best experienced simply, by a walk through the ruins. All the major attractions of Badami are located around the Agasthya Lake and sandwiched between two high mountain cliffs on its North and South. It is about 1km walk from the bus stand.
Archaeological Museum of Badami:
There is a stone statue of Nandi, Lord Shiva’s bull, at the entrance of the museum. The museum mainly comprises of pre-historic stone implements and sculptures, inscriptions etc. datable from 6th to 16th century AD.
Walking further, we reached to a beautiful lake called Agasthya Lake. This lake is surrounded by the Badami Caves, Red sandstone hills, Bhootnath Temple, small houses of Badami and the beautiful flight of steps (the ghats). The water in this lake is believed to have some healing power too. The sandstone steps (ghats) from three side of the lake make it more beautiful.
Badami in Hindu Mythology:
Legend says that there were two demon siblings in the ancient times, one is Vatapi and another one is Ilvala. The older brother Ilvala converted Vatapi in red meat and offered that to the poor souls living in the area. Unaware of the tricks, people ate that meat happily. Then, Ilvala re-converted that meat back into Vatapi who then emerges by tearing through the person’s body causing death. One day they did the same trick to the great saint Agasthya. But, the saint was able to digest the meat, thus causing death of Vatapi. This put an end to the misery of local people. These two hills in Badami to its north and south are supposed to represent the demons Ilvala and Vatapi.
Bhootnath Temple :
This temple is located at the Eastern side of the lake and is believed to be built in 5th century. These temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva. Inside the temple, there are lot of carvings on the wall.
Badami Fort and Adjacent Area: Again walking along the Agasthya Tank, we moved towards the northern hill through an access road adjacent to the museum. This hill has an amazing package to unfold for its visitors. Top of the hills are almost flat, full of shrubs and thorns, many walkable trails and houses, small water reservoir, some small temples with excellent carvings and Badami Fort. After visiting the Northern Side of the lake, we moved towards the Southern Hill, that houses the famous cave temples.As one walks along the lake,the road leads to an 18th century mosque.
Badami is famous for its four cave temples all cut out of a monolithic (single) rock of sand stone on the precipice of a hill. First three of these temples are dedicated to Hindu gods and goddesses and the last one is basically dedicated to JainTirthankars.
Cave Temple 1 : Moving inside, a long flight of steps took us to the first cave. This cave is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This cave temple dates back to the 5th century CE and was built by Chalukyan King Pulkesin-I. There is a carving of the cosmic dance of Nataraja depicted with eighteen arms. With these 18 arms, Lord Shiva can make 81 dance poses or mudra of Natya Shastra.
Cave Temple 2 : The second cave temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and his avatars (incarnations).
Cave Temple 3 : The third cave is dedicated to Vishnu, and is the best and the biggest, and it has splendid giant figures of Paravasudeva, Bhuvaraha, Harihara and Narasimha. An inscription found here records the creation of the shrine by Mangalesha in 578AD. There are some paintings on the ceiling and the style indicates maturity but has lost its original dazzling colour.
Cave Temple 4 : The fourth cave is Jaina which lies a little east of cave III. The sanctum is adorned by the image of Mahavira.
Tips from my perspective:
- It is approx. 420 kms away from Hyderabad and 500 kms away from Bengaluru.
- Timings: Daily except Fridays through the year from 10:00 Hrs to 17:00 hrs.
- Ticket Price: INR 5 for Indians and INR 100 for foreigners.