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8 reasons to visit Badami.

A lonely railway platform and its adjacent old station standing amid of lively green hills and surrounded by a river. A warm welcome to the city by the fields of bright sunflower. When the surrounding air filled with the smell of fertile red soil and the highway is shaded with windmills, Mayflower, Jowar plants.

Once you enter the active market area it looks exact replica of 1980s cinema where the men and women are in their traditional attire, a frequent flower shops, typical South Indian food, earthen pots tea and the incline road leads to the awesome red sandstones fort, straightway connects you to the mythological city Badami.

An ancient city of south India, once upon a time it was the royal capital of Chalukya Dynasty during 6th to 8th century CE. Nowadays nature reigns this place which offers us a hasty free heart melting landscape views. The mesmerising combination of vibrant green, cobalt blue, yellow and red sandstone surrounding a crystal clear lake can only be seen here in Badami, a city of Bagalkot district of the state Karnataka. Formerly the city was known as Vatapi as legend says there is a connection of sage Agastya and demon Vatapi which are scripted in both Hindu epics Ramayan & Mahabharat. During that period this area belongs to the Dandakaranya forest.

Partial view of Badami city and Agastya lake, captured from courtyard of 3rd cave

Through out the year besides summer you can visit Badami, but mid and post monsoon are preferable as you will enjoy and dance with the nature’s own charm at that time. As being a traveller it’s really tough to distinguish what to see and what to discard. After a hard work I am listing out some must-visit places of Badami.

1. Rock-cut cave Temples:

There are four temples in the encampment of the hills situated to the south west of the Badami city. The temples were carved in red sandstone which formed the cave temple complex a perfect example of ancient Indian rock-cut architecture. The architecture of temple focused on both Nagara and Dravidian style of carvings. The carvings and sculptures of the first, second and third caves were dedicated to Hindu divinities and mythology whereas the 4th cave was symbolised to different revered figures go Jainism. Among the four cave temples the third cave is the largest one. At the entrance wall of cave-3 there is an inscription on ancient Kannada language mentioned that Chalukya ruler Mangalesha son of Pulikesh-I was the founder of these cave temples during circa 578 CE. Though the information regarding the formation of other caves are not mentioned anywhere.

Nataraja form at cave 1

The first cave is dedicated to Shiva where a Tandav form of dancing Shiva's carving with 18 arms is present on the right wall of verandah and marriage ritual of Shiva-Parvati is on the left wall.

Vishnu as Varaha rescuing the earth as Bhudevi form.

The second and third caves are dedicated to Vishnu and sculptures of stone work of different forms of Vishnu are are preserved here the subtle magnificent work of rock-cut technology.

Bahubali in 4th cave

The fourth cave temple is dedicated to Tirthankaras where the major carvings are for Bahubali, Parshvanath and Mahavir with symbolic displays of Tirthankars. Bahubali's leg wrapped with vines and Parshvanath is shown with five-headed cobra hood.

2. Agastha Teertha

Just beneath the Cave temple complex the man made Agastya teertha or lake is situated which looks like a ravine of crystal clear water surrounded by the greenery and hills of yellow sandstone. This is an earthen dam with with stone steps. From the cave temples a jaw opening 'wow' mesmerising view of this lake easily found which is the main attraction of Badami and definitely a best scenic view for landscape photographer.

I will suggest to visit mid monsoon so that white smokey flow of water goes down to the lake with vivid surroundings colours, will be a best click. 

3. Bhutanath Temple complex

When I visited these temples it was the time of sunset and I was my completely enchanted by the amazing views where the blue sky, the red sandstone architecture become vivid-bright hues due to reflection of sun rays, the post monsoon greeneries which is a gift by the nature and the Chalukya dynasty to the mankind. It's an incredible moment to spend that sunset time sitting on the courtyard of 7th century's temple which still carried our glorious ancient sculptures and the magisterial skills of Rock-cut carvings.

Relief showing the several forms of Vishnu, Ganesha, Brahma, Shiva and Mahishamardini

There are two set of temples with the shrines of Lord shiva. One is to the east side of Agastya Teertha and other one is to the north-east side. The bigger one called as Bhutanath temple and the quite smaller one known as Mallikarjuna temple.

Recommendation: Try to visit this place either during the sunrise or sunset and definitely try to spend worthy time to feel the artistry, craft and the nature too closely.

Some famous Bollywood movies have been shouted here such as Guru, Rowdy Rathore.

4. Badami Fort

Glimpse of Badami fort from the 3rd cave temple

The marvellous twins fort of Badami nested atop a cliff just opposite to the cave temple complex. The Agastya Teertha situated between the caves and forts which are tall of 50 ft in height. Other side of the fort there is the ravine. The forts were built by the Chalukya kings in the 6th century CE. Though the 1400 years old fort lost its glory and beauty due to the ransacking of rulers and rival dynasties still the magnificent view of this red coloured forts are enough to conquer today's mankind by its splendid architecture and enormous plan. These forts were the residential place for the royal families.

An entrance of red sand stoned Badami fort

The pathway from the entrance of the fort paved with red sandstone and touch with marble finish. The entire fort encompasses with large greeneries and blossom tries, carved temples, several sculptures of hind deities and the Buddha, strategically located watchtowers, tunnels, prisons.

The incline pathway of the fort is thus shaded and breezy. according to the temples and caves it is believed that Chalukya Dynasty worshiped to Buddha, Shiva and Vishnu. The pillars and walls are highly ornamented with the statutes and carvings of enormous mythological characters. In some of the temples within the fort there are decorations of black granite pillars on the red sandstone which though a glimpse of ancient artistic design.

The ruin of inside of fort

At the centre of the fort there is a mosque like structure which supposed to be constructed by Tipu sultan. 

5. Archeological Museum

A collection of surrounding temple's shrine, miniature of deities, different carvings, sculptures, crafts, art works of stone are preserved here and maintained by the Archaeological survey of India (ASI). Try to reach there before 5 pm as it will be closed after that time.

6. Aihole Temple Complex

A large green area scattered with several types of red-yellow coloured temples and shrines at the valley of Malaprabha river. The area could be around five square km and 35 km far off from the capital Badami emerged as the cradle of experimentation of stone carvings, sculptures, temple architecture and construction of new form was started by Chaluyans dated from 6th to 12th century CE by the Chakulya .

More 100 temples are of Hindu deities, few of Jain and one is Buddhist. Famous temples are dedicated to Shiva, Durga, Vishnu and Surya. There are few step-wells near to the temples with elaborate stone arts. UNESCO declared the temples of Aihole-Badami-Pattadakal as 'Evolution of Temple Architecture'. According to the inscriptions these temples are the witness of several dynasties. The composition of temple styles are Dravidian, Nagara and Vesara forms.

Different legends are there for naming of Aihole as mentioned in the epic Ramayan, such as   the story of sage Gautama and Ahilya.

7. Pattadakal

The group of temples.

Pattadakal is another temple complex of Hindu, Jain and Buddhists monuments. A large temple complex alike Aihole but the structure and style of the temples are here in a synchronised way. From the inscription it is concluded that this temple area was a holy place and it was the place of coronation ceremonies during the Chalukya dynasty. The word Pattadakal signifies the "place of coronation" as being its natural beauty of combination of the red coloured soil, yellow coloured temples surrounded by the lush green plantation. The sophisticated temples were designed with complex friezes and fusion of stone art work of various style of Southern and Northern architecture.

The three types of temple architectures could be seen here, the inner most part garbha griha (sanctum) opens to the antarala(vestibule) which houses the shrine on a pitha (pedestal). The antarala joins to the elaborate arts works pillared porches called mandapa. On top of the garbha griha a high structure rises known as sikhara in Nagara style and Vimana as Dravidian style. The South Indian style of temple architecture is called as Dravidian and North Indian style known as Nagara style, whereas Vesara style is a combination of both North Indian and South Indian style of architecture.

Gopura, the gate pyramid which is the principle feature of Dravidian style is found at the entrance of so many temples.

Listing out some beautiful temples:

Virupaksha Temple: This temple is followed the Dravidian style of architecture and it was built by Queen Loka Mahadevi after the conquered of king Vikramaditya II again Pallavas.

The large windows are good to have a power nap, which is too essential for me during the travel. At Virupaksha temple. 

Sangamaheswara Temple: This is a form of Nagara style and built by Vijayaditya. A large east facing Dravidian style of temple. Based on the inscription is it deducted that the temple was started by Vikramaditya-I from 720 CE - 733 CE. Due to his death some relief works on the outside of the temple was unfinished. The inscription carried the name of the craftsman and the supporter for funding of the temple.

Galaganatha Temple:  This temple was built around 8th century CE based on ASI. Almost in ruined condition the temple is of Nagara style where the garbha griha is with an lingam and vestibule for the circular peripheral visit. An exact copy of this temple are still exist at Svarga Brahma temple at Alampur, Andhra Pradesh.

Mallikarjuna Temple: Mid of the 8th century CE this Shiva temple was sponsored by the queen Trailokyamahadevi. The temple is fully Dravidian style where the Vimana is quite prominent. The marvellous experiment of relief work on the pillars are magnificent here. The story of Mahabharat and other mythologies are elaborately scripted here.

Kadasidhheswara Temple: A relatively small temple of Shiva where Nandi faces the sacrum sanctum from outside. A monkey poses for me out side of the mandapa of the temple.

Jain Narayan Temple: This temple was quite later during the 9th century CE by Rashtrakuta king Krishna-II. Unlike other Hindu temples in this temple there is no sculptures and reliefs of Hindu deities.

8. Banashankari Temple

Just about 5 km distance from Badami another old temple of Chalukyans still exist, known as Banashankari as the temple was in Tilakaaranya forest so the name 'Bana' represents here the forest and the deity is a form of Parvati  so remain part 'Shankari' came from that. The two ancient lamp towers (deepa stambas) still present at the entrance. I was wonder to see the huge step-well just opposite to the temple as it seems a gathering of 5 thousand could be occurred there. Currently it becomes a grazing area of the cattle.

The abundant step well opposite of Banashankari temple

Here you could found a large size papad with some vegetable salad are being sold in the adjacent area by local women. I haven't seen this type of food anywhere. Though it is too spice but if you wish can taste the food. 

Photographs of Badami, Aihole & Pattadakkal

Maruti, my guide, photographer and driver during the whole trip

My favourite pet outside of the step-well boundary wall at Banashankari

A Capricorn is relaxing on the stairs of Agastya lake

View of Agastya Lake from 4th cave

Sitting posture of Vishnu on a five headed nag at cave-3

Intricate carvings on pillars of cave-4

Ceiling work of cave-1

Shiva-Parvati at the ceiling of cave-1

Marriage ritual of Shiva-Parvati at cave-1

Me posing at the walking boundary of step-well, clicked by Maruti

Scattered stone works and experimentation on temple forms at Aihole.

The front view of Durga Temple, there are two views for this temple. a group of people believed that this temple was dedicated to the goddess Durga whereas another group concluded that the the name 'Durga' evolved from the fort or durg as it was the security point at the entrance.

One of the step-well at Aihole

An adjacent village of Aihole, just beside the temple area

Panoramic view: Sculpture of Mahisamardini, and Ardhanarishwara at Ravanaphadi cave, Aihole

Gaudarguri temple, an experimentation of open structure.

Relief of an amorous couple at Durga Temple, Aihole

Relief of an amorous couple with their baby at Durga Temple, Aihole

Exclusive stone carving of amorous couples and Ganas at Lad-khan, Aihole 

The whole pillar of the previous carvings.
View from the Virupaksha temple, at Pattakadakkal.

A devotee was praying at Mallikarjuna temple.

Relief of Samudra Manthan on a pillar inside the Mallikarjuna temple.

Relief depicted that dancers are dancing for entertainment from of Indra on a pillar inside the Mallikarjuna temple.

Relief of depicted the war during Mahabharat on a pillar inside the Mallikarjuna temple.

Dancing and war of mythology at the pillar of Mallikarjuna temple.
Mahabharat frieze on a pillar inside the Mallikarjuna temple.

Social structure during Mahabharat on a pillar inside the Mallikarjuna temple.

Lovers inside the Mallikarjuna temple.

Lovers inside the Mallikarjuna temple.

Sculpture of love making at the outside of Mallikarjuna temple.

Relief of lovers at Mallikarjuna temple carved in black granite stone.

Relief of couple at the entrance of Mallikarjuna temple.

Gana at the entrance of Mallikarjuna temple.

Gana 2 at the entrance of Mallikarjuna temple.


  1. What a lovely description and mind-blowing pictures.... loved it ❤️


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