Karnataka state in southern India is teeming with rich historical sites, monuments, and magnificent temples. There are several ancient temples some of which are thousands of years old. And these temples should definitely make to your list of places to visit in India. This year when we visited our Hometown Hubli in Karnataka we planned a trip to Badami Karnataka for the Badami cave temples and the Badami Banashankari temple which are amongst the oldest temples in India. The temples are located in Bagalkot district of Karnataka around 3 hours from Hubli which makes for an easy day trip.
We started early in the morning after a hearty breakfast. There are several restaurants on the way which serves South Indian cuisine if you are planning to have your breakfast on the way. The scenic vistas all along the route to Badami was laden with lush groundnut fields and lofty coconut trees in the backdrop.
Our calm trail would occasionally be interrupted by the bustling villages with ubiquitous views of bullock carts, vegetable markets, and the school children running around.
Badami Banashankari Temple
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 a 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. There are quite a few hotels in Badami we recommend Clarks Inn hotel serving multi-cuisine delicacies for lunch.
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 the cave temples bought our tickets and started climbing the steps.
Badami once the capital of the Chalukyas of Badami is famous for its magnificent rock cave temples carved from the massive rugged sandstone cliffs.
Places to Visit in Badami
Apart from the Badami cave temples, there are several places to visit in Badami which are at a walkable distance. Lets first visit these magnificent cave temples.
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 are 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 until 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 brightly 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. The museum is open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on all days and closed on Friday. The 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.
Bhutanatha Group of Temples Badami
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 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. Badami to Bangalore is close to 9 hrs drive but if you are visiting from Bangalore there are direct trains from Bangalore to Badami railway station.
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