THE LAND OF CAVES


The summers had begun and we were planning on a forest escapade, but I had just been to Kemmangundi, which is a hilly area. Therefore, we decided to go on a chilled-out vacation where there’s not much of hardships of treks.

The first thought that came to all our minds was Hampi, isn’t it obvious? Some of my friends had not seen it and it had been more than 4 years since I visited Hampi… Bam!  It was wonderful planning the trip, we had 3 days at our disposal, so we decided to cover Badami Caves, Aihole, Pattadakal and Hampi in one trip.

TRIP PLAN – Bangalore – Gadag – Badami – Pattadakal – Aihole – Hospet – Hampi – Hospet – Bangalore

Badami was known as Vatapi and was the capital of the Badami Chalukyas, which was mainly famous for its rock cut structural temples and beautiful location around the Agasthya Temple. Pattadakal is a world heritage site and 22Kms from Badami. Aihole Village is a historic complex from Chalukya Empire.


DAY 1

We reached Gadag at 6 am by an overnight bus from Bangalore, and had booked a decent hotel to freshen up and keep our luggage. This was the nearest city to Badami. We were a bunch of 8 people and tried to get ready hurriedly as we had booked a Private Tata Sumo to take us around the historical places.

On reaching Badami, we entered from the museum side and started to walk towards the caves. It was a 2/3km walk inside the neatly paved road and it’s a heaven for photographers and history lovers! But heads up guys its scorching hot during Jan – June until the monsoon showers.

 

The beautiful Bhadra River lures you to sit by its side forever offering a breathtaking view of the Badami Village and Northern Hills. On the bank of the river opposite the caves is the Bhootnath Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Water from three sides of the temple makes this a priceless spot; this place is not for worship anymore.

 





Take a walk behind the temple and you will find two more temples with intricate carvings and within a few meters, there is a small Chalukyan structure under a huge Rock, forming the cave temple. You need to crawl to go inside but it’s an amazing experience once you enter the tiny cave.






We left for the Badami Caves, there are a total of four cave temples at different heights. It’s worth climbing all the levels of caves. The first three caves are dedicated to the Hindu gods whereas the fourth cave to Jain gods. Each cave has an extensive elaborate historic symbolism, any history buff would need to take a learned guide and spend more than a day here. 







On the way back to the museum, which was near the entrance, there is this neatly maintained tiny village which almost resembles Greece. By 3 pm we left for Pattadakal, but we decided to see Aihole first around 12 km from Pattadakal.




Aihole was earlier known as Ayyavole or Aryapura the first capital of the Chalukyas before Badami. As per mythology Parushurama washed his axe after killing the Kshatriyas at the Malaprabha River, and the river turned red due to the blood. A local lady shouted Ayyo Hole (Oh no blood!) and hence it was named Aihole. Also, it’s believed that saint Agasthya killed demon Ilava hence named such. ‘Aihole’ also means city of scholars in Sanskrit derived from the word Ayya.

 

The main attraction here is the Durga temple which looks like the Indian Parliament House. The masterpiece is a fusion of the South Indian Dravidian style and the North Indian Nagara style. There are other temples like Lad Khan temple and there is a dedicated museum which is extremely informative, if you really want to know the history of this place.





Tired at 6 pm, we had no time for Pattadakal, and hunger pulled us back to Gadag. On the way we had a sumptuous North Karnataka meal, consisting of jawar roti, rice, dal, sprouts, subzi, sambhar, raita, papad. It was spicy and the tastiest food ever. We reached our hotel dead tired and just crashed.


HOW TO REACH BADAMI?

By Air:
The Nearest airports to Badami are Hubli (around 106 km) and Belgaum (around 150 km). These airports have connectivity to Bangalore and Mumbai. From Hubli and Belgaum one can reach Badami by taxi or by bus.

By Train:
The ‘Badami Railway Station’ is around 5 km from the Badami Bus stand. You can reach Badami through from Bangalore, Hubli, Bijapur, Gadag, and Solapur and from other cities. The nearest major rail junction is Hubli. Hubli Jn has good rail connectivity with major cities across India. Also, direct train is there from Bangalore (Yeshawantpur Jn) to Badami.

By Road:
Badami is well connected by road. You can reach there through road connectivity from Hubli, Dharwad, Belgaum, Bangalore, Bagalkot, Hampi, Bijapur, and from many other cities. There are a good number of Govt and Private buses from Bangalore, Hubli, Belgaum and Bijapur.


We had an early bus to Hospet the next day – yes keep your eyes open for the next blogpost on the wonderful Hampi trip, which is the next chapter. Day 2 and Day 3 were way more exciting than Day 1. Wait and watch!


| PHOTOGRAPHY - GEET BATRA | 
| EDITORIAL - DEEPAK KUMAR |