What made us so much interested in this trip is the amazing history this place holds. Badami was formerly known as Vathapi and was the capital of Badami Chalukyas from 540 to 757 AD. The founder of the Chalukya dynasty was Pulakesin I (535-566 AD). His sons Kirtivarma I (567-598 AD) and his brother Mangalesha (598-610 AD) were involved in the construction of the cave temples. The most powerful King among the Chalukyas was Pulakeshin II (610-642 AD) who defeated many kings including the Pallavas of Kanchipuram. Badami had seen many major wars between Chalukyas, Pallavas, Rashtrakutas. It was later occupied by Vijaynagar Empire, the Adil Shahis, the Savanur Nawabs, the Marathas, and Hyder Ali before the British included it in the Bombay Presidency
- Opening hours of all temples at Badami – 6 AM to 6 PM
- Entrance fee at Badami Cave Temples – 5 Rs/person for Indians, 100 Rs for foreigners, 25 Rs for video camera.
- Parking fee at Badami cave temples – 20 Rs
- Parking fee and Entrance fee at other temples – None
- Opening hrs of Archaelogical Museum – 10 A M to 5 PM (closed on Fridays)
- Archaelogical Museum Entrance fee – 2 Rs/person
Isn’t it exciting to see the monuments which are around 1600 years old? The temples which we were going to see on this trip were built during the 6th – 8th centuries. The thought of this made us excited and interested in the place. The first place that we visited was the Badami cave temples. The route that Google maps suggested for us was through Badami slums. There might be other better routes to reach the place, but the route that we took from our hotel was horrifying. We felt bad to see the condition of the people and the condition of such a popular place. Fortunately, the historic monuments were preserved well.
Climb and the Caves
Before you begin to climb the cave temples, near the parking lot, you can find beautiful Killa Masjid. The Badami cave temples are carved out of red sandstone on a gigantic hill cliff and are considered to be the example of Indian rock-cut architecture. There are four cave temples and are connected by a stepped path. As you climb these steps, the view of the city, the nearby lake, and the other monuments in the city become more and more beautiful. The first cave is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The main attraction in this cave is the carving of Nataraja with 18 arms and it is said that if you take any combination of the two arms of this sculpture, it makes a perfect classical dance pose. Apart from this beautiful Nataraja, there are few other wonderful sculptures on the walls as well as on the ceiling of the temple.
If you climb around 60 steps, you will reach the second cave temple which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and in this temple, Vishnu is depicted as Trivikirama – with one foot on earth and the other foot directing to the north. There is also a representation of Vishnu as Varaha. If you climb 60 more steps from the second cave, you will reach the third cave which is again dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This also has the similar giant sculptures of Lord Vishnu in Trivikirama and Varaha avatar. This cave is the biggest among the four cave temples of Badami. The panoramic view of Badami town and Agasthya lake is extremely beautiful from this temple. We climbed some more steps to reach the last cave temple which was dedicated to Mahaveera Jain. This temple was the last constructed cave temple and was not as beautiful as the other three temples. There was an old Kannada inscription at the pedestal which belonged to the 12th century.
Agasthya Lake, Mallikarjuna Temple, and Bhoothanatha Temple
The Agasthya lake is a beautiful huge lake which is very near to the cave temples. On another side of the temple, one can find the magnificent Bhoothanatha Temple. The road leading to Agasthya lake is very narrow. We were surprised to see such a bad condition of the road. Near the parking lot, you can see the archaeological museum. Unfortunately, it was closed when we visited because this museum is closed on Fridays. So, we proceeded towards Bhoothanatha temple. On the banks of the river, before reaching Bhoothanatha temple, you will get to see the Mallikarjuna temple complex which has pyramid-shaped stepped structures. This temple is very beautiful.
Bhoothanatha temple is the most serene place in Badami. This temple did not have great sculptures, but the surrounding lake, the cave temples, rocky cliff everything was looking amazing from this point. We spent around 1 hr sitting simply at this temple. It was very hot outside and the temple gave relief to us. We have read in few blogs that the cliffs of Badami look awesome during sunset time and the sunset looks beautiful from Bhoothanatha temple. So, we decided to be there in the temple till the sunset. But, it was only 4.30 PM and we did not feel like sitting simply for one more hour, so we decided to leave.
Behind Bhoothanatha temple, there is a huge rock on which different sculptures are beautifully carved and framed. Behind the rock, on the cliff, there was supposed to be a falls called Akka Thangi falls, but when we visited the place, there was no water and we could not get to see the falls. After spending some time near Bhoothanatha temple, we left the place at 5 PM and that was the last point in Badami for us.
Other attractions in Badami
If you are interested and if you have ample time, there are lots of small temples in Badami. Some of which include – Lower Shivalaya temple which can be reached after climbing few steps near the museum. If you climb few more steps, you will get to Upper Shivalaya temple. Badami fort lies atop a cliff opposite the cave temples and the entrance to it is right through the museum.
Tip: The monkeys near the cave temples are very dangerous. Hold your belongings carefully.
Mahakoota is a small village at a distance of 15 km from Badami. It has a group of temples that are important places of worship for Hindus. This temple was not in our original plan, but since we had some time before night, we thought of visiting this famous place. The road condition was not that good, so it took us around 40 min to reach. The group of temples at Mahakoota is also of the 6th and 7th centuries. There are many small shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva and there is a Kalyani as well. The place looked very old and deserted. I wished that the place could have been maintained well.
Thus, we successfully executed our first day’s plan. We were awestruck with the technology that they had used to cut those extremely huge cliffs and to carve those incredible sculptures. The centuries-old monuments stand proudly at Badami. But, the government is still failing to improve the condition of the town, which is disheartening.
- Route Traveled: Bangalore > Badami > Cave temples > Mallikarjuna Temple Complex > Bhoothanatha Temple > Mahakoota
- Photos: Day 1 at Badami and Mahakoota