After embarking on the Hoysala Trail covering Halebidu and Belur, I was truly astonished by India’s rich architectural heritage. I decided to explore more. At the same time, I also wanted to see the works of a different dynasty. A different era. An architecturally different offering. Thankfully, Karnataka has a lot to offer in this regard. The Hoysalas made way to the Chalukya Trail.
When you talk of Chalukyas the first name that springs to mind is Badami. Located about 90 kms from Hubli, it’s a perfect weekend getaway for those residing there. If you have more time and your own transport at hand, then you can expand the list to include Pattadackal, Mahakoota and Aihole. There are frequent buses available between Hubli and Badami. Or better still you could catch a bus to Kulgeri Cross and then from catch another bus to Badami. After alighting at Badami we make a quick visit to Banshankari temple which is about 4 kms from Badami bus stand. After that we came back to the cave temples of Badami. The cave temples in pictures always looked totally out-of-this-world, and that’s what we found Badami cave temples in reality – totally out-of-this-world!
They are a set of four temples carved inside a monolith. Another striking feature of this temple is the fact that there are temples Shiva, Vishnu, Buddha and Jain – a proof of Chalukya’s religious tolerance. Though the carvings of Badami are not as artistic and magnificent as Halebidu or Belur, they still hold a special charm for their rock-cut look. The view gets better and better as you climb. The once natural pond with the Bhoothanatha Group of temples and the man-made waterfalls (by the Chalukyas for keeping the pond from drying up) all add up for a wonderful experience. The rains only add to the beauty of the place.
Do not forget to engage an ASI guide to give you a tour of the temples. The guide will tell you a lot of interesting observations of the sculptures. Do watch-out for the 18 armed Nataraja which depicts the 81 postures of Bharata Natyam, the Hari-Hara idol to appease both Shiva and Vishnu, the flat-bellied Ganesha, the smiling Narasimha, the only sitting posture of Vishnu (as opposed to Ananthashayanam) anywhere in the world, the worshipping of Kubera by Mahavira, the aesthetical additions by Vijaynagara Rulers, the fort wall additions by Tippu Sultan… the list goes on. Badami is a must-visit place for all those who appreciate India’s past glory.
Getting-there: Direct buses are available from Hubli to Badami. Else take a bus to Kulgeri Cross and another one from there to Badami.