Our train was running late. The sun was unstoppable on its way up. We looked at our watches and each other with a sigh. Wish we could speed up the train or halt the earth. Guess a much awaited trip to Badami would have a sunny start. The train slowly screeched, lowered its pace and there, we crossed our favourite yellow name board at railway stations saying BADAMI in black and beautiful. We quickly squeezed ourselves in a shared auto to Badami town. Shared autos/tempos make you realize that you are much more flexible than you think!
Aihole: Our first Destination on Badami Trip
(Read More: Aihole Temples, Badami: A Rendezvous with the Past)
Fortunately our hotel was bang opposite the bus stop. In 25 minutes, we were on 8:45 AM bus to Aihole. Phew! The route to Aihole is one of the best countryside routes, we have been on. Fields were buzzing with activities. The soil is tilled for the next sowing season, haystack piles lay neatly after the last harvest season and tractors are ready to transport the produce. The road narrowed down and the bus honked its way towards a human settlement. But there was something intriguing about this place. What if one of your house walls was made by a Chalukayan Kings? To our amazement, that’s how it was around Aihole and its nearby areas. Remains of the numerous temple structures made during the Chalukayan period were now part of homes, playing grounds and leisure centers.
Having said that, ASI has done some remarkable work in the preservation and maintenance of Aihole and Badami temple sites. We realized this when we saw the main sites. We explored the temple compound and museum. A text display in museum has well explained the different types of temple architecture seen across Badami and nearby areas. That saved us from hiring a guide.
The whole Aihole area has around 125 stone temples! So, what do you do to prevent an over dosage of ancient architecture and ruins – You set out for small, on the spot adventures 🙂
1. Take a lift to the next nearest temple site
The temple sites are scattered all over within a radius of 3-5 KMS. The sites are surrounded by fields. Hence it won’t be hard to find such lifts 🙂
2. Have an aerial view of Aihole
We shared a narrow path with the bullock cart and reached the steps leading to the Meguthi temple on the top of a hill. After a very small climb, you find yourself on the top of Aihole. One can’t miss on the beautiful blend of yellow and green field patches, brown sandstone temples, and whitewashed walls with hills in the background. To our surprise, none of the tourists’ vehicles were driving this way.
3. Skip the main road and take the narrow by lanes
We decided to walk through the village but not alone, with a rally of kids coming out from unknown corners. Jumping all around, they were happy to introduce us to their pet goats, dogs, and cows. The doors of the houses opened to dark halls lit by the sunlight from roof windows. Cattle and humans happily shared safe space of home together. Something city folks miss on !!
4. Send yourself a postcard with the special pictorial cancellation
In one corner lies a one room post office of Aihole. We wrote down postcards to family and ourselves. But that was not all, look what we got, a special Aihole pictorial cancellation! Karnataka alone has such 37 different pictorial cancellations for different heritage places.
Pattadakal: Our Second Destination on Badami Trip
We skipped the wait for the 2 PM bus (from Aihole to Pattadakal) and got into a shared auto with a Kannadiga local couple. With few words here and there in Kannada, we barely managed to strike a conversation with them. The man could not stop himself smiling and beaming at his wife and talking to us. Finally the auto guy had to step in for the translation “he is saying you two look good like we two do”. Now we could not stop smiling till the auto dropped us at Pattadakal.
Pattadakal is another important site where you can see various types of temple architectures. We had never seen such a well-kept ASI site. Lush green lawns, with an array of flowers were in perfect natural contrast with the browns of the temples. We opted to read the information displayed inside the information center instead of taking a guide.
After touring the site, we quickly grabbed our seats in 4 PM bus to Badami. This time, we were headed for an encounter with the Sun, the glorious setting sun at Agasthya Lake.
Sunset at Agasthya Lake, Badami: Here ends our Day 1
The sunset at Agasthya Lake was worth all the efforts. We were there by 5:30 PM and just watched the sun melt away. It was such a subtle evening to witness from the steps of Bhutanatha temple.
Women were washing clothes, kids were playing in water and few men were trying to catch the eluding fishes. With hardly any tourist it was mostly we and the Sun. The same Sun which was in a hurry to go up in the morning, this time was in a hurry to go down.
We were there till the sky turned pink; women left for their homes, birds reached their nests and stars shone bright. A day very well spent indeed!
We were dam tired after day one but loved our temple excursions in Badami. To read about our next day experience in Badami, please click here.