It’s the sandstone which fascinated me to plan a trip to Badami. The ‘Badami’ (almondish) color of the sandstone led to its name- Badami. I am not a history fanatic or a bear a keen interest in carvings etc but the overall landscape of the destination looked promising. Plus, it was just 139km from Hampi so we could easily accommodate it in our 3 day trip to Hampi.
Just to give a quick background, Badami was the capital of Chalukya dynasty during 540 AD to 757 AD. It has 4 cave temples, Bhootnath temple surrounded by Agastya lake and few more rock cut temples. Well, all this in one campus itself so you don’t have to hop from one place to another. Also, we got to know from climbers we met in Hampi that it’s quite a popular place for bouldering as well. Badami is also famous for Banashankari temple, a family deity for many Hindus.Here is the detailed wiki info about Badami.
I am not a very temple-going person but I heard about a special kind of Bhakri (a local bread variant) -chutney you get outside Banashanakari temple which is NOT to miss. So, we paid our visit to the temple and then treated us with Bhakri. Old local ladies sell dry , thin like papad Bhakri (jawar roti) with flax seed chutney, chilli, chutney and 2 vegetable fry currys. All for less than Rs.50/- Just outside the temple, there is a ‘once-upon- a time-here-was-a lake’ kind of area , near which people park vehicles. Here you will find ladies selling Bhakris. Must try if you are around.
There are 2 more places (20km away ) called Aihole and Pattadakal which houses more such rock cut temples. They say, the artisans practiced the carving at Badami first and then moved ahead to build temples at these two places. So, the temples or structures at Aihole are more beautiful and have intricate designs. I have been only to Badami so can’t comment much about rest of the two places, but here are some of the designs I clicked:
Badami is a small town in Karnataka and not very much developed. There are hardly any 2-3 good places to stay. People usually plan to stay either at Bijapur or Hampi and then do a day trip. Badami is one of the heritage places selected for HRIDAY – Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana scheme of Government of India. Well, I feel , it can be maintained well from a tourism perspective. The site is next to a residential area and even tourists have to travel through the lanes to reach the other part of the sites. I understand relocating people will not be possible but at least keeping the area clean is. The site of beautiful lake and the Bhootnath temple gets ruined by people using the lake water for daily chores like washing clothes, bathing. Not a very pleasing thing to experience!
In spite of all this, we spent a good amount of time sitting at the lake doing nothing but to assimilate the view and the grandeur of the landscape.
People keep talking about the great Grand Canyon in USA. Of course, there is no comparison of visually overwhelming size and colorful landscape at Colorado to a tiny landscape in Badami. But, I would call it as mini Grand Canyon of India which in a way is more beautiful because of the carvings and the history behind it. I believe the one thing which will always remain unique to India, is the efforts which our ancestors have taken to turn natural wonders to man made marvels. Be it Ajanta- Ellora caves or Aurangabad caves or Elephanta caves or Badami caves, the storytelling through sculptures and carvings , the attempt to keep Indian history alive through ages will remain unparalleled.