Mumbai to Hampi - Badami - Pattadakal - Aihole - Vijaypura Road Trip

Day 4 (6th November 2018)​


At Badami, we stayed at KSTDC Maurya Chalukya. This is a better-maintained property compared to the one we stayed at in Hosapete. Therefore, the room rates are also higher. However, the sizes of the rooms are slightly smaller than that of Hosapete. The property has adequate parking space and an in-house restaurant.

We started around 7.45 am for local sightseeing. The first destination was Badami caves. The idea was to come back to the hotel for breakfast after seeing Badami caves and then spend the rest of the morning and forenoon to see the balance attractions of Badami and going to Aihole and Pattadakal in the afternoon.

All the attractions of Badami are at the east of NH367 and access to those attractions from NH367 is a bit difficult because of the local market and shanties. From my experience, I think that it would have been better had we hired a local vehicle for local sightseeing at Badami. We would have lost significant time to figure out the right approach road and parking space. There is no visible effort to develop this place as a tourist destination.

We reached the parking lot for the Badami cave temple complex around 8 am.


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The parking lot is at the southwest corner of Agastya Lake. The cave temples are on the hills on the southern bank of the Agastya lake. The temples have to be accessed by stone steps. There are four cave temples.

The first cave temple was excavated around 550 CE. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva in Linga form. It consists of an open porch, a pillared hall and a sanctuary excavated into its rear wall. The sidewalls of the porch have large-size relief sculptures of Harihara on the left and Ardhanrishwara on the right, supported on the pedestal that friezes dwarf Ganas in various moods. The ceiling is adorned with deeply cut sculptured of coiled snake-king Nagaraja. On either side of this are flying Vidyadhara couples. The pillars that divide the porch from the inner hall are fluted with beautiful cushion capitals. Pillars carry low relief sculptures of deities and are decorated with pearl festoons, foliation, medallions with mythical creatures, rows of swans, etc. Other interesting themes include a two-armed Shaiva-dwarpala on the left flank of the porch entrance, a Vrishava-Kunjara (Bull & Elephant in one), and Shiva-Parvati mounting on Nandi.

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After finishing the visit to the first cave temple, we started walking up towards the 2nd cave temple.


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The 2nd cave temple was excavated for Lord Vishnu in the 6th century CE. In Plan, like the 1st cave temple, it comprises an open porch, a pillared hall with a sanctuary cut into its rear wall. Two-armed, calmly disposed of, meditating door guardians flank the entrance to the porch. Major sculptures in the porch include panels of Vamana-Trivikrama to the right and Vhu-Baraha to the left, with freezes of Gana (Dwarfs) caved on the pedestal. Beams carry continuous freezes of Puranic episodes of Samudra-Manthana and Krishna’s exploits. The ceiling panel features a central Matsya-Chakra (Fish Wheel) flanked by Swastika patterns. Brackets supporting the cornice resemble lions, elephants, humans emerging from the mouths of Makara's and aquatic creatures. There are reliefs of Lord Bramha, Vishnu, Durga, Kartikeya, etc., decorative medallions with Vidhyadhara couples, and flotations on pillar faces.


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There is a stone bench in front of the 2nd cave temple. We took a rest there for some time and then started ascending for the 3rd cave temple.

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The 3rd cave temple was created in 578 CE by Chalukya Mangalesha in the reign of his stepbrother Kirtivarma I for the god Maha-Vishnu. Like the 1st and 2nd cave temples, the plan comprises an open verandah and a pillared hall with a sanctuary cut in the rear wall. However, this cave temple was built on an ambitious scale being the largest and most ornate of all Chalukya caves. This cave temple has a stone structural enclosure. A Sanskrit inscription craved beside the great Varaha relief in the verandah details its dedication, date, and gift of village Lanjisvara by Mangalesha. The temple’s verandah accommodates super-human size figural compositions. Eight-armed Vishnu, Vishnu seated on Ajanta and Bhu-Varaha on the left side and Harihara, majestically standing Narasimha and Vamana-Trivikrama on the right. Side faces of beams carry narrative freezes of episodes from Mahabharata and Puranas, Samudra-Manthana, Krishan’s exploits, and Parijata-Harana. The image of Maha-Vishnu is missing from the sanctuary.


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The 4th cave temple is a Jain temple and it is the smallest among the cave temple and it is datable early 7th century. It is somewhat unfinished. It consists of an open verandah and an oblong antechamber with a sanctuary piercing into its rear wall. Its verandah walls accommodate relief sculptures of Bahubali in penance and Parsvanatha in penance overcoming obstacles of his demonic enemy Kamatha. The sanctuary door frame depicts the Kama as the door-guardian. On the rear wall of the sanctuary is the relief sculptures of a sermon-delivering Thirthnkara, probably Mahavira with Halo behind and seated on a Lion throne under a Chaitya-tree and Triple-umbrella and attended by Chauri bearers, Vidhyadhara offering flowers and divine drums beaten by themselves.


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We spent some time there, clicked some photos of Agastya Lake, and started descending around 8.40 am.

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After reaching the parking lot, we took some photographs of an old unnamed temple and mosque, both situated on the western bank of the Agastya Lake, and some random photos of the hill on which the cave temple complexes are and then proceeded back towards our hotel for breakfast.


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It was 9.00 am then.
 
We started from KSTDC Hotel Maurya Chalukya around 10 am after having breakfast.

Our first destination was Malagitti Shivalaya. The approach road from NH267 for this temple as well as other attractions is in very bad condition. The roads are narrow, through the marketplace and densely populated area and without proper direction and full of potholes. We missed one turn and reached a dead-end reversing the car there was a hellish task. Finally, after a lot of effort, we managed to reach the base of Malagatti Shivalaya. There was some open space where we parked our car. There was no proper parking lot. By that time, almost half an hour had gone.

From the place of parking, it is required to climb up using stone-cut steps to visit the temple. It is perched on a rock outcrop.

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This is a 7th-century temple. The temple is East facing and of Dravidian style. Originally dedicated to the Sun-God Aditya, the temple consists of an open porch, a rectangular head, a small vestibule, and a square sanctuary enshrining a linga. Sanctuary’s decorated door frame includes a band of snakes held by Garuda on the lintel. On the architrave is a relief of seated Sun-God riding on a chariot drawn by seven horses. A relief accommodated in the vestibule medallion containing Vishnu riding on a Garuda. The entrance of the hall is flanked by deep niches that contain sword-bearing door-guardians Dinda and Pingala. In elevation, the temple comprises of a typical Dravidian basement with emphasis on high Kantha (Neck), walls with Kudya-Stambhas (thin pillar reliefs), and Kapota (Cornice) topped by Hara (Parapet). The sanctuary’s superstructure is comprised of the dwarfed first storey, complete with parapet. The Griva (Neck) is capped by an octagonal Shikhara (Dome). Four corners miniature Kutas hide the neck part. The Stupi (Pot-final) is missing. The niches of the exterior of the hall accommodate beautiful figures of standing Shiva attended by ascetic devotees (south) and standing Vishnu attended by Kaumodaki (Gada or Mace personified as a lady) and Garuda. Both show some features typical of late Gupta sculptures-style noticed in 6th Century CE in the Malava region in Northern India.

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It took around 30 minutes to complete the visit to Malagatti Shivalaya.

Our next destinations were Badami Fort, Lower Shivalaya, and Upper Shivalaya. There is a narrow road in that direction from where we parked our car. However, I did not get the courage to take the road. So, we came back to NH367 and tried to find out the right approach road from the highway. But that did not work and we finally came back to the parking lot of Cave temples and decided to go to the other attractions from there on foot. Most of the attractions of Badami are around Agastya Lake. Therefore, one full round of Agastya Lake will enable you to cover most of the attractions.

Badami cave temples are on a rock on the southern bank of the lake. Badami Fort, lower Shivalaya, and Upper Shivalaya are on a rock on the northern bank of the lake. There were shanties at the western bank of the lake and there was no proper road for going from the southern bank to the northern bank. Somehow, we managed to reach the northern bank making our way through the shanties.

At the base of the northern rock, there is a museum. We decided to give it a pass and started our trek passing through a huge entrance gate.


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There is a stepped path for going to the top of the northern rock. The path is flanked by huge orange-red rocks with mysterious narrow and deep clefts.

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After some time, we crossed another gate.


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After crossing the gate, the road bifurcates. The left branch goes to lower Shivalaya. The right branch continues to ascend towards upper Shivalaya and Badami fort.

The lower Shivalaya, perched on a high point of the protruding rock overlooking the town, dates from the 6th Century CE. It represents a Dravidian-style temple of the early phase of Chalukyas of Badami and apparently owes its creation to royal patronage. Originally it comprised of a small porch, a hall, and a double-walled sanctuary with an ambulatory around. Now only the inner sanctuary part of the structure exists.


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From the lower Shivalaya, the upper Shivalaya is visible at a height.

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Another old structure is visible at the same height as the lower Shivalaya but it is not accessible.


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After visiting the lower Shivalaya, we took the other branch towards the fort and upper Shivalaya. After walking a few hundred meters, to the left, there is a cleft that leads to the huge circular bastion which is visible from all over Badami.


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Malagatti Shivalaya is visible from there with Badami town as the backdrop.


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After seeing this, we came back to the main path and crossed another gate.


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After this gate, the path becomes really narrow.


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After crossing those narrow pathways, we finally reached the flat hilltop.


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The original image of upper Shivalaya is lost. As Vaishnava themes are carved on its outer wall, it is a Vaishnava temple. There are images of Narsimha killing demon Hiranyakashyapu on the northern wall, Govardhan Giri-dhari on the Southern wall, and Kaliyadamana on the western wall.

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On the top, we saw some 18th CE rectangular underground chambers which are known as Tipu’s treasury.


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There are two conical structures made of rubbles, which could be granaries.


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Lower Shivalaya, with Badami town as the backdrop, and Agastya Lake are visible from the top.


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After spending some time there, we started coming down.

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Badami, also known as Vatapi, was the capital of Chalukyas (6th – 8th AD) which extended at the time of Pulikesin II from Kanchi in Tamilnad to the banks of Narmada and from Odissa to the West coast. After a setback for a while owing to the attacks from Pallavas under Narshimha Varman I, the Chalukyas regained their territory gave impetus to the revival of Hindu religion and art. At this time, because of the scenic beauty and natural defiance provided by the majestically standing rock surrounding Agastya lake, they shifted their capital from Aihole to Badami and built a fort on the flat top of the northern rock which used to be the residence of the Chalukyan kings. Today, other than those three gates, parts of the temples, remnants of broken fort walls, nothing exist. The grandeur of the past has succumbed to the fury of time.

After coming down from the northern rock, we started walking towards the east for the Bhutanatha group of temples. On the way, we crossed Mallikarjuna temple. It belongs to a later period and it was built during the reign of the Western Chalukyas.


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Bhutanatha group of temples is on the eastern bank of the Agastya lake. The Bhutanatha group of temples comprises a bunch of sandstone temples, all dedicated to Lord Shiva. This group of temples came under the influence of Jains for a period of time. Later, it was taken over by the Lingayats who installed a Shiva Linga in the shrine and a Nandi in front.


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After watching the Bhutanatha group of temples, we headed towards the parking lot along the southern bank of the lake. It was quarter to 1 pm then and was the time to go back to the hotel for lunch.


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After lunch, we started for Aihole.

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We reached Aihole around 3.45 pm.


Aihole (Aryapura of the inscriptions) occupies a unique place in the history of temple architecture of India. It was the experimenting ground for the early Chalukyan Kings (450-750 A.D.) to build temples from the mid-fifth century onwards. There are around 100 temples at Aihole – 50 within the ancient fortified area and 50 outside. Most of the temples were originally Vaishnavite and later converted into Shivaite temples. The early temples are of the pavilion type with a slightly sloping roof. Later, experimentation took place to give a cognate shape to the temple roof by adding towers resulting evolution of three distinct types namely Dravida, Nagara, and Kadamba-Nagara.

We first went to the Ambigera Gudi complex.


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This is the largest temple among the three temples of the Ambigera Gudi complex. This temple has a Nagara Shikhara, Sanctum, and Mantapa. This temple has two entrances – one from the right and another from the left of Mantapa. The inner ceiling of the Mantapa has lotus engraved. The doorframe of the Sanctum is highly embellished. The temple stands on an elevated platform and is considered to be a 10th-century creation.

As Ambigera (boatman) community stayed near it, the complex got its name.

From there, we went to another group of temples just across the road. This group of temples is the most visited place in Aihole. There is a museum there but we gave that a pass and straightway went to visit the temples.

We first went to the Durga temple. This is not a temple of Goddess Durga but got its name because of its vicinity to the fort (d\Durga). Though now it is a Shiva temple, originally it was a Surya temple. This temple was built by Atanda Ale Komarasingha during the days of Vikramaditya II. It is one of the finest examples of experimentation in temple construction that took place at Aihole. The temple is of apsidal shape with its backside resembling the hind part of an elephant (Gajaprasthana). The temple stands on a high pedestal. It has a fallen Rekhanagara shikhara. Its collonades divide the temple into apse and aisles, and the columns pass behind the apsidal sanctum.


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The temple has a frontal mantapa with steps to reach the temple from the east and the west. The temple is surrounded by a parapet and short pillars support its roof with an inner colonnade. The exterior has fine Ramayana scenes. The Mantapa pillars have figures of Gods and Goddesses and amorous couples. The Devakoshtas on the exterior have Shiva riding Nandi, Vishnu, Mahisha-Mardini, etc.


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The next temple at the right side of the Durga temple is the Suryanarayana temple. Assigned to the 7th or 8th century, this temple has a Rekhanagara (curvilinear) Shikhara over garbhagriha. It has a four-pillared frontal Mantapa. The Rnagamantapa has 4 long pillars and 12 half-pillars. The Mantapa has Kakshasanas. The Garbhagriha doorframe has Garuda at the lintel holding serpents, and also the figures of Ganga and Yamuna. Above that, there is a seated Surya figure. The sanctum has two feet long Surya figure and Mantapa ceilings have peculiar designs with four pillars in the sanctum too.


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Lad Khan temple was a hall originally for performing religious functions. Perhaps Pulikeshin I had performed horse sacrifice here. Later, it became a Surya temple and subsequently a Shivalaya. At the center of the hall is elevated Nandimantapa surrounded by 4 pillars reaching the roof, and is surmounted by partially damaged curvilinear Shikhara with a figure of Surya on the frontal side. From the central pillars, rows of pillars radiate to four corners making it 16 in total. There is no Garbha Griha and a stone booth is fitted to the back wall of the hall to house the deity. The walls to the east, north, and south have artistic lattice windows. The slanting ceiling radiates from the Shikhara above Nandi at the center. The pillars here are massive. There is a frontal Mantapa added later with finely engraved pillars. There are fine sculptures of an enormous couple, Ganga and Yamuna. This temple, one of the oldest of the lot, is named now after one lad Khan who had made this place his residence. One of the pillars of this temple has Chalukya royal insignia, Varaha, engraved on it.


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The Gaudara temple appears to be the oldest temple among nearly 100 temples of Aihole which was a great commercial center at the time of Chalukyas. It is a 5th-century temple and it was Mahalaxmi or Bhagavati temple and at the time, the town was known as Bhagavati Kolla. The temple is on an elevated platform with 16 pillars at the exterior and stone slabs inserted in between to form the wall. Four inside pillars support the slanting roof. The temple has a sanctum with a circulatory path. There are Kakshasanas with beautiful Kalash decoration behind them inside along the wall. Upper beams are highly embellished with chaitya loops housing a human head. The entrance of the Garbhagriha has Garuda at the lintel with Gajalakshmi with four elephants above it.


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Assigned to the 9th century, Chakragudi is known for its 20 sculptures of the amorous couple engraved on the doorframe of the sanctum which has Garuda holding two snakes on the lintel. Above that, there is a relief sculpture of Dravida Shikhara. The temple has a Sanctum, a Rangamantapa, and a Nagarshikhhara on the Garbhagriha. There is a prominent round Amalaka at the Stupiwhich may have brought the name Chakragudi to the monument.


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Assigned to the 9th century, Badiger Gudi is originally a Sun temple, as indicated by the Surya image on the projections of Rekhanagara (curvilinear) tower on the garbhagriha. The temple, in addition to the garbhagriha, has a Rangamantapa and Mukhamantapa and there is an image of Dakshabrahma in the temple.


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