We were visiting our hometown Hubli in Karnataka for a much-needed vacation. Karnataka a southern state in India is teeming with rich historical sites and monuments. It had been a long time we had taken any trip around hence we planned to visit the Banashankari Temple and Badami caves of Bagalkot district which is around 3 hours from Hubli by car.
We started in the morning after some good breakfast. The road to Badami had verdant rows of groundnut fields on either side with lofty coconut trees in the backdrop.
The calm windy trail would be occasionally interrupted by the bustling villages with inevitable views of bullock carts, vegetable markets, and the children running around.
We parked our car in the parking lined by many local shops selling copper and brass puja items and few wooden household items. We entered into the temple vicinity through an arch gate. On the right side is a Guard tower cum lamp tower called Victory Tower which stands on the bank of a water tank enclosed by a columned stone walkway.
We entered into the main temple area flanked by two colossal stone lamp towers. Temple has a long queue on the occasion of festivals and holy days so if you plan to visit the temple its better have an idea of the events. We visited on a weekday and hence there was no queue and we could visit the temple at our own pace.
The Banashankari temple originally built in the 7th century is dedicated to Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. In the sanctum, the sculpture of goddess with eight arms is depicted seated on a lion trampling a demon under her foot.
After spending some time in the spiritual ambiance of the temple we decided to go for lunch. We recommend Clarks Inn hotel serving multi-cuisine delicacies for lunch.
Badami Cave Temples
After lunch, we headed towards the Badami Caves which is around 10 mins by car from Banashankari temple. We parked our car in parking opposite to the cave temples bought our tickets and started climbing the steps.
Once the capital of the Chalukya Dynasty Badami is famous for its magnificent rock cave temples carved from the massive rugged sandstone cliffs.
Badami was earlier known by the name Vatapi owing to the legend that demon Vatapi and demon sibling Ilvala who killed the innocent were brought to an end by Sage Agastya. According to another story, Badami got its name from the Badam (Almond) color of the sandstone of this place.
There are in total 4 cave temples all carved out of the sandstone cliff and are similar in the layout with a veranda and a hall with pillars leading to the small sanctum which houses the sculpture.
The first and the oldest of the temples is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The second and the third cave temples are dedicated to Lord Vishnu. And the fourth and the latest of the Cave temples is dedicated to the Jain Tirthankaras of the 6th century. The caves have exquisite mythological figures and inscriptions carved on the walls and pillars.
The temple caves overlook a town and a 5th century Agastya Tirtha Lake. From the large courtyard of the second temple, one can spot the Badami Fort located on top of the opposite hill, the Mallikarjuna and the Bhuthanatha temples situated towards the right on the bank of the Agastya Tirtha Lake.
We wandered around the caves till the history buff inside us was satiated and descended to the parking.
We next headed to the fort and temples we spotted from cave temples. The route winds through a narrow alley of the rustic quaint village with bright painted houses and carved wooden doorways.
Archaeological Museum of Badami
The museum has an open space overlooking the Agastya lake where we parked our car. The archaeological museum houses some of the remarkable collection of sculptures. Museum is open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on all days and closed on Friday. Museum is accessible through small entrance fees.
Nestled atop a cliff, the Badami Fort dating back to 543 AD can be accessed through a set of stairs by the archaeological museum. The fort encloses large granaries and Malegitti Shiva one of the oldest Shiva temples. Most part of the fort is in ruins but is worth visit for the remains which exemplifies the splendor of the Chalukyan architecture and a magnificent view of the town and the temples.
A couple of minutes further from the museum along the lake are the 11th-century Mallikarjuna temples and the Bhuthanatha temples built between the 7th and the 11th centuries. The temples are worth visiting for their the exceptional architecture and tranquil surroundings.
To Reach Badami
The nearest airports to reach Badami are located at Hubli (around 105 km) and Belgaum (around 150 km). Visitors can reach Badami from Hubli and Belgaum by taxi or bus. Badami has its own railway station connected to prominent cities of Karnataka.
Have you visited Badami or do you plan to visit soon? Let us know in comments.
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