Greek Geographer Ptolemy in 2nd century has mentioned in his chronicles this town called ‘Vatapi’ now known as ‘Badami’ situated in Bagalkot District of North Karnataka. This 11 sq. kms picture postcard idyllic town has it all… a lake (Agastya lake) engulfed by two red sand stone hills with a beautiful structured slopped terraced temple at one end and a waterfall backdrop adding to it’s visual beauty! The two hills – one has forts, inscriptions & temples and the other has 4 rock cut caves which houses classic carved mythological larger than life images of Lord Shiva & Lord Vishnu along with Jain Thirtankaras and other hindu gods & goddess – a show of religious tolerance by our yesteryear rulers, Badami Chalukyas.
Apart from it’s share of natural beauty this place is blessed by man made two forts and temples made of red sand stone. The green vegetation and water bodies makes this place look like an emerald isle – a garden of Eden. Badami looks gorgeous after the rains. . . a perfect blending of man made structures among natural beauty blessed landscape!
Going to this place alone is a wasted time. A round trip of a week leaving Bangalore for 7 days is good fun. Hampi – Badami – Aihole – Patadakal – Bijapur would be great. This would be 1000 and odd kms on your vehicle’s tachometer. My advice would be to have your own vehicle. Even though these places are well connected by rail & road, it makes better sense to save on time & money and less dependent on local buses, vans and autos.
This region is a photographers & artists paradise and this tribe would linger on longer in this region. Natural light plays havoc on one’s mind at these places, it haunts you mesmerizing you from dawn to dusk! Choice of location is a dilemma! One would like to be at every imaginable vantage point at the next moment. A helicopter at your disposal would be a wish you would wish for. Coming back to reality, one should be ready to walk and climb up & down hill most of your time. This would be an exhaustive day of your life imbibing the beauty of Badami earlier known as ‘Vatapi’.
The structures are maintained by ASI – Archeological Survey of India and they are doing a great job out here. Please visit the musuem at the foothill of the hill, opposite to the rockcut caves on the banks of the Agastya lake near the Bhootanath Temple Complex. It houses the artefacts of Badami kingdom. Pulakeshi I (543-566) & Pulakeshi II (610-642) who were the notable Kings of the Badami Chalukyas, the later more famous than the former. These Kings were religiously tolerant and encouraged the advent and growth of Jainism. In 757 the Rastrakutas took over Badami. Later Hoysalas – Vijayanagar Kingdom tookover and Hampi was an inspiration to build from Badami. After Vijayanagar Kingdom Badami fell into the hands of Adil Shahs – the Mugals of Bijapur. Later the Savanur Nawabs – the vasals of Nizams & Marathas ruled Badami. . . leading the Badami rule to the Marathas, Hyderalis of Mysore too ruled this place and finally the Britishers and then on to independent free India.
Tourism list at Badami town are – * Caves 1 to 4. * Hanuman Temple. * Malegitti Shivalaya. * Lower Shivalaya. * Upper Shivalaya. * Bhutanatha Temple Complex (east & west). * Kappa Arabetta Inscriptions (old Kannada carvings). *North Fort. * South Fort. *Tomb
Accomodation & Food facilities are basic. Carry cash! Debit & Credit Cards seldom accepted by business establishments. Few more places of interest closeby are Banshankari Temple and wonderful landmark archeological sites Aihole and Patadakal all these places are within driving distance of less than 90 kms these can be covered in a day provided you start early and reach one of the places by sunrise. All these places have a small entrance fee and photography is allowed except inside the Badami Museum. Beware of Monkeys here – they are boisterous!
Driving distances from Bangalore to Hampi 350 kms – 6 hours. Hospet 330 kms – 6 hours. Bijapur – 526 kms – 9 hours. Distances from Bijapur to Hospet – 210 kms 3 hours 30 mins. Bijapur to Badami 125 kms – 2 hours 30 mins. Hampi to Hospet is 12 kms and it takes 30 mins to drive through to these populated towns. Going to Badami from Hospet or Hampi would take about 3 hours traversing a distance of 135 kms. Hospet is a better town to stay when you are this side of the tourist frontier. The tour including all places will take a week. One could pick and choose an itinerary to suit their time. All these places are well connected by road and rail.
Do visit these areas with your family to enrich yourself of our rich heritage. Learning to be a traveller is soothing for your mind and body – enrich your knowledge and soul with a visit here.
-Jagdeesh Laxman Singh
aka Jugie Singh
Text & Photography