India

Alluring Badami Caves.

We got up early in the morning, freshened up and went to Banashankari temple again. Our elaborate “Abhisheka Pooja” took 3hours. Once we finished that, we had our breakfast in the local hotel and started towards Badami Caves around 10 AM.

There is definitely something magical about these boulders and rocky cliffs city of Badami. On the way from Cholachaguuda to Badami, I could see lot of picturesque fields brimming with sunflowers, their heads nodding in glee towards the sun. This city is earlier known as Vatapi, was the capital of the early Chalukyas. It was later ruled by the Rashtrakutas, the Hoysalas and yet, it still has an alluring stamps of Chalukya’s.

As I told earlier, I m not an artist and I m not much inclined towards architectural beauty. The Rocks of Badami was so alluring that we can roam around these rock patches aimlessly for months. A vestige of the most beautiful and glorious past of karnataka, where you can enjoy the contrast of the fields of bright colors, yellow, copper and green, with the backdrop of the red rocks and cliff and the vast blue skies.

Nataraja carvings in Cave 1

The first cave temple is dedicated to the Hindu Lord Shiva. It is believed to be the earliest of the four temples. Shiva is depicted in his dancing form, Nataraja, with his 18 arms. This carving depicts all the 81 poses of Nataraja.

Magnificent Trivikrama of cave 2

The second cave is dedicated to the Hindu Lord Vishnu in his magnificent Trivikrama avatar. The depiction shows Vishnu measuring the Earth with his one foot, the sky with another, and a third foot resting on the head of Mahabali. On the ceilings are the carvings from puranas, and Vishnu on Garuda. You need to climb close to 60 stairs to reach cave2 from cave1.

Narasimha & Varaha depiction in cave 3

From the third cave, the view of the water of Agasthya Theertha Lake, orange-red sandstone hills, the Bhuthanatha temple, and the town of tremendous Badami looks artistic. This cave is also dedicated to Vishnu, we can see the depiction of Narasimha the man-lion, and Varaha lifting up Mother-Earth from the sea.

Jain Tirthankara of Cave 4

The fourth cave is more of Jain carvings dedicated to Mahavira. You could see lot of Jain Tirthankara carved in here. The sculptural reliefs of Tirthankaras and the other Jain figures adorn the pillars and sidewalls of the halls. This is a testament to the peaceful co-existence of different religions in ancient India.

Agastya Lake

Once you enter the first cave and walk slightly further you can see a  large water reservoir, known asAgasthya Lake’ or ‘Agasthya Tirtha’. The lake is bounded by the Badami Cave Temples to the South and the Badami Fort to the North. The beautiful Bhuthanath Temple Complex is on the Eastern side. It looks picturesque, but up close, the water is not so clean. The perimeter walk along this lake is serene and offers a different views.

Wide angle view from Cave 4

Bhuthanath temple

Bhootnath Group of temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva. Inside the temple, there are a lot of carvings on the wall. On one side of the doorway of the shrine stands Goddess Ganga, riding the Makara, while on the other side is river Yamuna. She is depicted as riding the Tortoise. The temple on the north-east side of the lake is the Mallikarjuna Temple.

Upper Shivalaya

My husband enjoyed the walk to Upper Shivalaya the most. Situated on top of the northern hill of Badami, the Upper Shivalaya is a fine example of the rock-cut architectural style of the ancient Chalukyan empire. From the top, it gives a magnificent panoramic view of the town of Badami and the beautiful Agastya lake.

We can see the Malegitti Shivalaya Fort from upper shivalaya temple. One can walk to the fort and have a panoramic view of Badami. The pathway with steps and stunning rock formations is awesome and exciting. The temple and fort at the top offers a panasonic view of Badami township.

Long shot of fort from Upper Shivalaya

Lower Shivalaya.

We didn’t get the time to visit this during this trip. As I have visited this place several times before, putting all the information I could recall. They are possibly ruins of lost temples. This intricately carved rock-cut structure depicts the earliest and best-surviving example of the magnificence Dravida style in the early Chalukya architecture. Dedicated to Lord Ganesha, the Lower Shivalaya, in its original glory, comprised of a small porch, a hall, and a double-walled sanctuary.

View of Both Upper and Lower Shivalaya from Malegitti Fort
Destination Facts

Reach – Nearest railway and bus stand is in Badami. Caves are situated at the distance of 1 km.

Timings: 9 AM to 5PM

Languages spoken: Kannada

Best attraction – Upper Shivalaya, Bhuthanatha Temple

Entry fee– Rs. 30 per head for Indians and citizens of SAARC Asian countries, and Rs. 500 per head for other foreigners.

Best time to Visit– Throughout the year (Avoid visiting in summer as it will be too hot)

Temperature: Summer 30 to 45°C degree, Winter 20 to 30°C

Eating Around: You can see lot of hotels and Khanavali to eat in the main streets of Badami. If you prefer simple clean home-made meals then try “Basaweshwara Khanavali” just besides Badami Bus stand. Board looks old and dusty, but inside its clean and tidy with a nice food. This joint is run by a local couple.

Stay –There are several hotels available for reasonable fare.

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