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Tourist Places To Visit In Badami
Badami, the splendid heritage site of the ancient kingdom that was ruled by the early Chalukyas of the 6th century, has an ever earlier history of megalithic and Stone Age cultures marked by dolmens, prehistoric blunt instruments and cave paintings that speak volumes of its antiquity.
What makes Badami exceptional are the cave temples. You would be amazed at the dexterity of the ancient artisans and the emphasis that was laid on the architectural styles. There are numerous temples, cave temples and forts in Badami and its neighbourhood that should be seen. The Badami Chalukya architectural styles have rock-cut temples that are drilled into hills and structural temples built above the ground. Some of the top tourist places to visit in Badami are listed below.
The four cave temples at Badami, three Hindu and a Jain cave respectively, are some of India’s finest examples of rock-cut architecture. They were built around the 6th-7th centuries by Kirtivarman and Mangalesha, the sons of King Pulakeshi, who established Badami as the capital city of the Chalukyas. The first two caves have sculptures of Shiva and Vishnu, the third which is the largest of them all, promises to be the most intricately carved cave temple of all times. The fourth cave temple has sculptures of Lord Mahavira, Parsvanath and the Thirtankars. Check out the sculpture of Nataraja with 18 arms in the first cave and Vishnu as Trivikrama in the second. They are truly the architectural assets of ancient India.
The sculptures are in the north Deccan and Nagara styles combined with the Southern Dravidian styles of architecture. Perfect in their artistry, the Badami Cave Temples are a very rich part of India’s heritage. The caves are open to visitors from 9.00 am-5.30 pm daily. Keep an eye open for the monkeys!
Perched on a hillock below the North fort are three structural temples of Shiva. You can climb up a series of steps to reach the Lower Shivalaya, and climb further up the summit for the Upper Shivalaya, complete with double fortified walls, a granary and underground chambers. Beneath the western side of the North Fort stands the magnificent Malegitti Shiva temple on a remote boulder. The temples have some exquisite architecture and offer a beautiful view of the town around. There are superb friezes of mythical animals in Dravidian style and a huge ShivLinga in the sanctum of the Malegitti temple.
The Badami Fort is located opposite the Badami Cave Temples. The Fort that was built around 543 AD by Pulakeshi 1 was plundered by the Pallavas in 642 AD, and was restored and rebuilt by Tipu Sultan when Badami came under his reign. Built atop a hillock, the fort has granaries, underground chambers, temples, watch towers and a large cannon. There are steps to climb up to the fort. Visiting hours are from 10 am-5 pm each day, except Fridays.
The Bhutanatha group of sandstone temples lie close to the Badami Caves. The Bhutanatha temples are on the eastern side of the Agasthya Thirtha, while the Mallikarjuna temples are on the northeastern side. The architectural styles of the temples are a combination of the Chalukyan and the Kalyani Chalukyan who ruled parts of the Western Deccan between the 10th-12th centuries. With pyramid shaped stepped gopuras, the temple complexes stand grandly on the banks of the Agasthya Thirtha, in the midst of lush greenery.
Banashankari Amma Temple
The Banashankari or Vanashankari Amma Temple is in the Thilakaaranya Forest of Cholachagudd, about 5 km from Badami. The original temple was built by the Badami Chalukyas in the 7th century in the Dravidian style and was later rebuilt in 1750 by a Maratha Chieftain in the Vijayanagara style. The forests around the temple are lush with coconut trees and betel vines. The people call the Goddess Shakambari or ‘vegetable goddess’ as she provides them succour during famines.
Pattadakal or Raktapura is on the western banks of the Malaprabha River, about 23 km from Badami. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has a number of Chalukyan Hindu and Jain temples, dating back to the 6th-8th centuries. Pattadakal too has a rich legacy of prehistoric cave paintings and dolmens. There are about ten major temples for Shiva and a Jain temple, eight of them in a cluster, while the last two are a little further away towards the south and the west in that order. The largest among them all is the Virupaksha Temple. The intricate carvings and friezes on the ceilings, walls and pillars of the monuments are a feast to the eyes. You can cover a visit to the temples in one day. Hire a cab or take a local bus from Badami.
The Chikkamahakuteshwara Shiva Temple is at Mahakuta, about 13 km from Badami. The complex of about 18 temples is built in an indigenous combination of South Indian Dravidian and North Indian Nagara styles of architecture. The unique inscriptions on the pillar and porch of the Mahakuta temple record the Chalukyas’ military achievements and the grant of a Vinapoti, silver umbrella and rubies to the Lord by King Vijayaditya. Locals and tourists gather at the Vishnu Pushkarani in the temple complex, a natural perennial spring that is an ideal place for a cool Bath during summers.
Aihole is about 34 km from Badami, via the Pattadakal road. Aihole is an ancient medieval site with literally hundreds of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples. Aihole too, has evidences of prehistoric human settlements. The Durga Temple complex is one of the most significant places to visit in Aihole. The Durga temple has seven Hindu monuments including a Shiva Temple that was later renamed Lad Khan temple after Adil Shahi Sultan’s Muslim Commander stayed here to oversee military operations. Check out the 10th century stepwell with carvings on the inner walls, near the Gaudargudi temple.
About a kilometre northeast of the Durga temple complex is one of Aihole’s oldest 6th century rock cut cave temple. The Ravanaphadi temple has rock cut niches with sculptures of Ardhanareshwara, Parvathi, Saptamathrikas and Harihara among others. Some other temple clusters strewn around the heritage site of Aihole are immense. The temples are moderately big and always in clusters, so it’s easy for you to visit them all. Some of Aihole’s other temple complexes include Thriyambakeshwara, Maddin, Galaganatha and Ramalinga groups of Temples. We have listed just a few of them for you.