Badami : Regal Capital of Chalukyas

Caves at Badami

Caves at Badami

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. 

Stairway to third level of caves

Stairway to third level of caves

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.

After the Chalukyas, the city was taken over by the Pallavas and the Hoysalas in the 8th and the 10th century respectively. The city is known for many inscriptions, some of which hold historic significance. A total of 18 inscriptions have been identified so far in Badami. It includes an inscription in Sanskrit using the old Kannada script, which dates back to the 6th century.
View from the top

View from the top of the Cave Temples

The city at Badami

The city view : Badami

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.

Cave Paintings

Cave Sculptures

Such amazing details - everything done on stone

Such amazing details – everything done on stone

View from the top - the caves are surrounded by the Agastya Lake

View from the top – the caves are surrounded by the Agastya Lake

Each pillar needs dedicated time to be appreciated

Each pillar needs dedicated time to be appreciated

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.

Yet to see inscriptions more stunning than this - again, everything has been carved out of stones

Yet to see inscriptions more stunning than this – again, everything has been carved out of stones

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

Banana leaf meals on a thali

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” –  James Michener

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4 thoughts on “Badami : Regal Capital of Chalukyas

  1. This is very intriguing, You are a quite skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look forward to looking for far more of your wonderful post. Also, I’ve shared your internet web site in my social networks!

  2. After reading your blogs on these places in our home state Karnataka I want to change my future plan of touring the world because now I feel when there’s so much to explore here, why go outside? The acchitectural marvel of these places is unbelievable and to think that all these were done at a time when there were no formally trained engineers and no motor transport to carry things required to build such huge structures., just amazing. Now that you’ve started with these its time for you to revisit Beluru, Halebidu and Shravanabelegola once again, as you were very young when we went there in 2004 (?) You’ll be able to admire them better now.

    • Yes Ma. That’s what I realized too – that there is so much to be discovered within India. Each year, we should target at least 3-4 places. Nothing educates you the way travel does. :)

      Go North-East!! (Soon I hope)

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