After wrapping up Hampi, we continued onward to explore more of Karnataka. We still had more than two-thirds of our trip to go – some destinations in Karnataka and some further down south. Next stop from Hampi was a place called – Badami. Badami is a small town known for its caves, rock sculptures and temple architecture. The town was originally known as Vatapi and was the seat of government of the Badami Chalukyas in the 6th century AD. The name Vatapi has its origins in a mythological tale of the Ramayana. Funny story actually, here it is;
According to mythology, Vatapi and Ilvala were two demons. They used to eat beggars alive by tricking them. Vatapi would pose as red meat which Ilvala then offered to the beggars. Before the beggars could digest the meat, Ilavala would call out Vatapi’s name and he would rip through the beggars’ body. Ilvala had a boon of calling back people from anywhere by just calling out their name. However, once, Sage Agastya ate and digested Vatapi before his elder brother could call out his name. Thus, Vatapi’s life was brought to an end.
Historically speaking, Badami was the Chalukya Dynasty’s capital from the 6th to 8th century AD. The city was founded by a Chalukya ruler named Pulakesi in the 6th century. The Chalukyas are credited with building many cave temples here between the 6th and the 8th centuries.
The inscriptions and statues inside the temple were just awe-inspiring. We climbed about six flights of stairs and we were panting. It really makes you wonder as to how some people many many centuries ago drilled through huge rock mountains and created these mega structures. By the way, one major thing to be careful about while you’re visiting the cave temples is the monkeys! There are literally hundreds of them along the stairs that go up to the top of the temple. You’ve to be very careful while walking up because these little monkeys are pretty aggressive – they come snatch stuff out of your hands.
It was really peaceful being on the top and the view was amazing. If it were not for those naughty monkeys – I would’ve liked to stay more. :) Plus we also had two more destinations to cover. By the way, if you are on this route, you might as well make a 2-day plan and cover Bijapur (famous for the Gol Gumbaz) and Kudalasangama too. Ideally when you set out from Hospet, your plan should look like this
Day 1 : Badami – Pattadakallu – Aihole
Stay over at the Dam Guest House at KudalaSangama
Day 2 : Kudalasangama and Bijapur and head back to Hospet.
We discovered the Bijapur option too late – poor research on our part. And anyway, we had great plans of taking the state transport and doing these three destinations (Badami-Pattadakallu-Aihole) in one day. We reached the state transport bus stand – and err. . . sort of chickened out. Well, in our defense, it was not just the condition of the bus and it’s over-crowded state that dissuaded us – we were informed by our wise Hampi auto-rickshaw driver friend that we wont be able to cover everything in one day if we took the public bus service. So we hired a car for a reasonable rate (Rs 2000 for a day – over 450 kilometers from Hospet and back). Despite taking a car, we got back at about 11 in the night after covering all three destinations.
Anyway, after Badami we stopped for lunch and had a nice Kannada style hearty meal. I may have mentioned this many a times before – local food sampling is my most favorite part of travelling. It’s a pity I’m a vegetarian – I can’t try everything that comes way – but I still manage quite a lot. :P