Badami – Pattadakal – Aihole: The Temple Trio

Badami, formerly known as Vatapi was the starting point of our (me and my three friends) journey of South Indian temples. After completing our monuments safari in Bidar, Gulbarga and Bijapur, we set out to get some dosage of temples in Karnataka. Our destinations during this journey were:

Badami – Pattadakal – Aihole – Hampi – Anegundi

We managed to cover all these places in 5 days i.e. 21st – 25th December 2017.

HOW TO REACH BADAMI

Located in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka, Badami is famous for its rock cut structural temples. We traveled to Badami by 16536 Gol Gumbaz Express. We boarded the train at Bijapur (4:55 pm) on 20th December and reached Badami in two and half hours. There are not many options when it comes to accommodation and restaurants in Badami. Our stay was at Hotel Rajsangam International, which is right in front of the bus stand and 5 kms away from railway station.

DAY 1: BADAMI

PLACES OF INTEREST IN BADAMI

  • Badami Cave Temples (Badami Fort – Southern Hill)
  • Archaeological Museum Badami
  • Bhutanatha Group of Temples
  • Badami Fort (Northern Hill)
  • Shri Banashankari Shakti Peetham
  • Mahakoota Group of Temples

BADAMI CAVE TEMPLES (BADAMI FORT – SOUTHERN HILL)

Since we had to cover very few spots on Day 1, we started our day quite late. Badami caves are at a walking distance from the bus stand. Or one may even reach there by rickshaw at Rs. 10 per person.

Please note that Badami caves, Agasthya Tirtha Lake, Bhutanatha Temples, Archeological museum and Badami Fort all are in vicinity from each of these places. However, to reach Badami Caves, one has to take a turn at Ambedkar Chowk. On the other hand, to reach the Badami Fort (Northern Hill) / Museum, one has to take a turn at the Market. Upon reaching the complex, all these places are accessible on foot.

  • Badami Cave Complex
    Badami Cave Complex

When we reached the Badami Cave Temples (11:30 am), the premises was flocked by school kids and there was no way we could have got clean pictures of the temples. It is advisable to keep Badami Cave Temples and Badami Fort (Northern Hill) on separate days and reach these places early in the morning to avoid crowd. The caves and fort are open from 6 am to 6 pm. The parking charges are: Bus/ Truck (Rs. 30), Car/ Van (Rs. 15), Scooter/ Bike (Rs. 5) & Bicycle (Rs. 2).

The place is maintained by Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and entry fees are Rs. 15 (for Indians) and Rs. 200 (for Foreign Nationals), per person. For Camera, charges are Rs. 25. Badami Cave Temples is a complex of four Hindu, Jain and Budhhist cave temples. The place is a fine example of Chalukyan rock-cut architecture. The last of the four temples is a Jain temple, dedicated to the Jain Tirthankaras. Entry to the Badami Fort (part on Southern Hill) which is right above the Badami Cave Temples is restricted. Considered to be inaccessible now, this part of the Fort has a large cannon on top.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM BADAMI

We then moved to the museum located at the base of the Badami Fort and next to the Agasthya Tirtha Lake. The museum has 4 galleries and it mainly comprises of pre-historic stone implements and sculptures, architectural members, inscriptions, hero stones etc. Entry fee is Rs. 5 per person and photography/ videography inside the museum is prohibited. It is open from 10 am to 5 pm. 

BHUTANATHA GROUP OF TEMPLES

From museum, we walked along the banks of the lake and reached Bhutanatha Group of temples. There are two major temples there – the one on the East side of the lake is Bhutanatha Temple and the one on North East side of the lake is the Mallikarjuna Temple.

  • Lower Shivalaya captured from Agasthya Lakeside
    Lower Shivalaya captured from Agasthya Lakeside

While walking along the banks of the lake, one could get a picturesque view of Bhutanatha Temple with its reflection in the lake water. Behind Bhutanatha Temple, there’s a Buddhist cave with a small entry. One has to crawl on knees to enter this cave.


DAY 2: BADAMI, PATTADAKAL & AIHOLE

BADAMI FORT (NORTHERN HILL)

We started our day at 6:30 am and headed to the part of Badami Fort on Northern Hill. A rickshaw driver dropped us to archaeological museum for Rs. 40. To the left of the museum is the entry gate of the Fort. Although the fort was built during Chalukyan period in 6th century, most of the present day work was done during 18th century under Tipu Sultan’s rule.

The walkway inside the fort is carved out of a large redstone hillock. The steps and doorways are cut so precisely that makes one appreciate the finesse of architects then. While on the way to the top of the hill, one comes across a huge bastion and two temples – Lower Shivalaya and Upper Shivalaya.

  • Lower Shivalaya on the Northern Hill part of the Badami Fort
    Lower Shivalaya on the Northern Hill part of the Badami Fort

The Lower Shivalaya is relatively smaller in scale with two storeys. The Upper Shivalaya is built in a typical Dravidian style. From Upper Shivalaya, one can get a panoramic view of the city. On the other side, one gets the aerial view of Badami Cave Temples, Agasthya Tirtha Lake and ruins of a Buddhist temple on the other part of the hill. A rectangular structure called Tipu Sultan’s Treasury is few feet away from Upper Shivalaya. The structure is completely in ruins and is accompanied by granaries nearby.

We descended the hill by 8:45 am and still there were no visitors. The place looks quaint in early morning as the sun rays hit the redstone surface of the hill. We reached our hotel to freshen up and left for Pattadakal in a Private car.

SHRI BANASHANKARI SHAKTI PEETHAM

Popularly called as Banashankari, this ancient temple is 5 kms away from Badami on the way to Gadag. A high wall encloses the temple on all sides. A large square water tank called as “Haridra Tirtha” is located in front of the temple. The stone mantapas enclose the tank on three sides, called as “Pradakshina” path.

MAHAKOOTA GROUP OF TEMPLES

While on our way to Pattadakal, we took a halt at Shivyog Mandir and then moved to Mahakoota Group of Temples. Built between 6th to 8th century, the complex is totally dedicated to Lord Shiva. The architecture style resembles the one seen in Pattadakal and Aihole.

  • Banashankari Temple at Badami
    Banashankari Temple at Badami

The site has historical significance due to two inscriptions found there. The Pillar inscriptions (Dharmavijayastambha) depict the Chalukyan achievements. The Porch inscriptions (Vinapoti) are related to the tale about grant of a silver umbrella and rubies to the lord, by Vijayaditya. The complex also has a tank with a natural spring.

PLACES OF INTEREST IN PATTADAKAL

  • Virupaksha Temple
  • Kashi Vishwanatha Temple
  • Jain Narayana Temple
  • Sangameshwara Temple
  • Papanatha Temple
  • Galaganath Temple
  • Mallikarjuna Temple
  • Kadasiddheshwara Temple
  • Jambulingeshwara Temple
  • Chandrashekhara Temple

We reached Pattadakal at around noon and unfortunately got a company of some more school kids. Pattadakal (a place of coronation) is a complex of ten Hindu and Jain temples dating back to 7th century. Also called Raktapura, the site is managed by ASI and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The nine Hindu temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva whereas the lone Jain temple is dedicated to Jina, a Jain Tirthankara. The coronation of Chalukyan kings used to take place at this very site.

  • Pattadakal Temple Complex
    Pattadakal Temple Complex

Located on the banks of Malaprabha river, the temples reflect a fusion of two major Indian architectural styles – one from north India (Rekha-Nagara-Prasada) and the other from south India (Dravida-Vimana). The oldest of these temples is Sangameshwara whereas the last temple built in the group is the Jain Temple, built in 9th century. The largest of these temples is the Virupaksha Temple.

Since there was a lot of crowd (thanks to the school trips), I couldn’t take clean pictures of the beautiful temples. It is advisable to visit the site as early in the morning as possible. The Papanatha Temple is isolated from the rest of the monuments in the group and hence is less crowded. In fact, when I took a walk to this temple, I found myself to be the only person at that temple. The entry fee for the complex is Rs. 30 (for Indians) and Rs. 500 (for Foreign Nationals) per person. Camera/ Video charges at Rs. 25.

PLACES TO VISIT IN AIHOLE

  • Durga Temple
  • Lad Khan Temple
  • Ravana Pahadi Cave Temple
  • Archeological Museum
  • Huchimalli Gudi Temple
  • Huchappayyagudi Temple
  • Mallikarjuna Temple
  • Jain Meguti Temple
  • Gowda Temple
  • Ambigera Gudi Group
  • Chikkigudi Group
  • Jyothirlinga Group
  • Rachi Gudi Group
  • Halabasappana Gudi Group
  • Charanthimatha Group
  • Yeniar Shrines
  • Galaganatha Group
  • Magana Gudi Group
  • Suryanarayana Temple
  • Triyambakeshvara Group
  • Chakra Gudi
  • Goudaragudi Group
  • Ambigera Gudi
  • Kunti Gudi

Aihole is like a hub of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples dating from 6th through 12th century. The temple groups mentioned above include more than 120 stone and cave temples. There are more than 100 Hindu temples, few Jain ones and one Buddhist monastery spread across 5 sq. km. space. Although all temples are close by, exploring all of them would take more than a day and a lot of patience too.

  • Durga Temple at Aihole
    Durga Temple at Aihole

Among all the Temple groups in Aihole, Durga Temple is the major tourist attraction due to its architecture. The entry fee is Rs. 15 (for Indians) and Rs. 200 (for Foreign Nationals) per person. Camera/ Video charges at Rs. 25. After leaving from Aihole at around 4 pm, we moved to Hospet for the last leg of our Karnataka trip – Hampi & Anegundi.

Best time to visit Badami, Pattadakal & Aihole

September to February since the weather is quite pleasant.

How to reach Badami, Pattadakal & Aihole

Air: Nearest airports to Badami are Hubballi Airport (105 kms) and Belgaum Airport (150 kms).

Rail: Badami has a railway station which is well connected to major cities in Karnataka and nearby states. Nearest major rail junction is Hubballi.

Road: Badami has a good road connectivity with Hubballi, Dharwad, Belgaum, Bangalore, Bagalkot, Hampi, Bijapur which have further connectivity with other cities in nearby states.

Pattadakal and Aihole are 20 kms and 33 kms away from Badami respectively and can be reached using bus or cabs.

Accommodation in Badami

Restaurants in Badami

  • Banashree Restaurant
  • Golden Caves Cuisine
  • Moogambika Deluxe Restaurant
  • The Bridge Restaurant
  • Geetha Darshini

Things to remember

  • Visit Badami Cave Temples and Fort early in the morning to avoid crowd and witness a wonderful sunrise.
  • At Badami Cave Temples, shooting videos with smartphones is not allowed. However, it is allowed with a DSLR camera. Strange, right?
  • To capture photographs under good natural light, visit Badami Fort (Northern Hill) at sunrise, Bhutanatha Temple in the afternoon and Badami Cave Temples in the evening (pray that it is not crowded).
  • Please note that New Lemon Tree Family Restaurant in Badami is permanently closed.

Here’s a video I have made on my visit to these three towns:

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Till then…Happy Travelizing!!!