Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal

When I got down from the KSRTC bus at Amingad at around 8:30 AM on a beautiful Friday morning (Dec 28th), the place appeared to have just woken up. The bus conductor directed me to wait for shared transport that ply frequently from here to Aihole. 

Until half an hour before, I was still contemplating on whether to go to Bagalkot and take a bus to Badami or take this route. Finally, I decided to visit Aihole first and avoid more traveling for the day. The kind conductor explained to me that I could stay in an Inspection bungalow and on Sunday when I return, I could reach Ilkal and board the same bus at around 10:45PM. I thanked him and got down at Amingad as the KSRTC bus that I had boarded the previous night made its way to Bagalkot.

In no time I was on a jeep shared by villagers going to Banashankari temple. With only one seat left, I struggled in a back seat as the tempo trax rolled on a muddy village road. The travel had just begun to get exciting. 

I occasionally enjoy traveling alone as I believe that nothing is more adventurous, exciting and educative than a solo travel. It would have been more exciting if it were a foreign land but for me that day is yet to come. My previous solo trip was in Dec 2009 to Kolar so, this was much awaited.

At Aihole, I first tried to locate the IP bungalow. But what I found was an abandoned place. I spoke to villagers and they informed that the pravasi mandir is now closed and I might not find any hotel to stay here. I freshened up at the village and decided to explore the place. 

A cup of tea and idly got me started. Aihole has several temples scattered all around the village. But the main complex houses several important temples - Durga temple, Lad Khan Temple, Galaganatha group temples etc.

According to mythology, Aihole is the place where Parashurama washed his axe after killing the Kshatriyas. Aihole was the first capital of the early Chalukyas. They built over 125 temples of various styles here. Aihole is therefore said to be a laboratory of experiments in rock-cut architecture. Pulakesi-I, one of the greatest rulers of this dynasty, moved the capital to Badami. 

Badami was then known as Vatapi. It is from these temples that the Chalukyas gained their experience and went on to build the great temples of Pattadakal. The first phase of temple building in Aihole dates back to the 6th century CE, the second phase up to the 12th century CE. Some temples were even built as early as the 5th century CE. All three cities were built at the banks of Malaprabha river.

Aihole, Pattadkal and Badami seem to be a popular destination for school trips. There were a lot of school kids wherever I went.  The village kids on the other hand, seemed to be fond of pens. Every now and then I would find a village kid asking me – “Do you have a cool pen?” 

Other places that I visited here are a fort on top of a small hill with a Meguti Jain temple inside, Ravana Phadi cave temple, Hucchimalli Gudi etc.

With that, I decided to bid farewell to Aihole and headed to Pattadakal (14Kms). A shared auto was ready to go. The auto prices are around Rs 5, 10 or max 15, depending on the distance.

Pattadakal too was filled with school kids. There are several temples around here and some have north Indian influence to their gopura

At Pattadakal (place for Chalukyas Coronation) there are ten temples including a Jain sanctuary surrounded by numerous small shrines and plinths. Four temples were built in Chalukya Dravidian style, four in Nagara style of Northern India and the Papanatha temple in mixed style.


Apart from the main temples, there is another papanatha temple which is behind the main temple. While walking to the temple, I met these two villagers who were having their lunch. As soon as they saw me, they asked if I would like to eat. I nodded. This was happening for the second time to me in Northern Karnataka. Last time when my mother and I stopped at a sunflower field near Gadag, the villagers had offered us food. There is something very nice about these villagers of North Karnataka. They gave me lots of tasty food – Bhakri (Roti made of corn), Chapathi, Curd rice, two sabjis and sweet.


After that delicious meal, I visited the temple and bid farewell to Pattadkal. I was informed by someone that there are three more temples on the way to Badami – Mahakuta temples, Shiva mandir and Banashankri. So since I had time, I thought of covering them all. A bus took me to a junction where I got down and waited for a shared auto rickshaws. But there were no auto rickshaws traveling to Mahakuta. I was suggested to hire an auto for Rs 50. After a wait of half an hour, I decided to do just that. There is a point where you have to take certain decisions else you would end of wasting time. 

Mahakuta temples are ancient too but the lake was filled with devotees swimming and hanging their clothes on the rails next to the temple. Such ignorance disappoints me. 

Next, I took another auto to Shivamandir, which is on the way to Banashankari. Now this is a newly constructed temple and hence not very special from an architectural perspective. 

I quickly got another auto rickshaw to Banashankari which seemed extremely crowded. The temple had long queue so I decided to pray from outside and decided to leave to Badami. 


I reached Badami at around 4:00 PM. I checked into a new hotel – Hotel Sanman Delux. The rooms are reasonable at Rs450 per night. The rooms are located away from the main road hence it is less noisy. I took a nap and then at around 6 PM, I decided to visit the famous Badami caves.

By the time I reached the caves, it was closing. So instead, I sat by the Agastya lake. It was peaceful as the evening sky changed colors until it was finally dark.

At a local khanawali suggested by the lodge owner, I had a delicious north Karnataka style meals. After a fulfilling dinner, I returned back to my room and retired for the day. 

Next morning, I was back at Agastya Lake at around 7:00 AM. The sun rises behind the Bhootnath temples and thus the opposite hill made of sand stone shines like almond (Badami). I climbed up this hill where there is a beautiful temple. (Upper Shivalaya) Nobody was around and thus it made a nice and quiet place to be.

I met a guy from Belgium there with whom I spoke in French. He seemed quite impressed by my knowledge of the language and I learnt some better pronunciation from his accent.  

I then visited Bhoothnath temple and the caves behind it which has beautiful Buddha and Vishnu idols. 

At the base is an archeological museum that has some rare sculptors and paintings from the caves. At around 10 AM, I could hear groups of students walk into the caves one after another. Their talks from a distance sounded like the buzz of  bees.

The main complex comprises of four caves - One dedicated to Shiva, two to Vishnu and one to Bahulbali, signifying the different religious path the Chalukya’s took and unity they maintained Amon various faiths.

The sand stone sculptors on each cave are magnificent. 

Here, I met three French students who are on an exchange program. They are studying in Delhi. I had a good chat with them in French. 

Evening, I returned to the Agastya Lake and sat there sketching. Morning, when I was sitting near Bhoothanath temple and sketching, the guard politely told me that I could not sketch. That I found to be funny because they let people take photographs.

Evening, sitting by the Agastya Lake, I watched the sunset. I spent a few hours relaxing by the lake. It was peaceful out there. I watched several tourists with their SLR cameras clicking their best shots. People from all over the world seemed to be there. The view was magnificent. It was a fulfilling experience.

I walked around the village, along the narrow streets of Badami.  The villagers were relaxing in the courtyard. There were several pigs hunting for food. 

Next morning, at around 7:30 AM, I boarded a bus to Bangalore. I took a Karnataka Sarige bus hence it would stop at every major town on the way. I knew that and had preferred it. I was okay with this long journey as it would give me enough time to observe things. 

It is here that I met the biscuit man. He and I were the only two, traveling from Badami to Bangalore. When I did not go for breakfast, he brought back a pack of biscuit and offered it to me. He seemed disappointed that I ate my lunch at the dabha while he settled for another pack of biscuit. Then in the evening after tea, he shared few more biscuits with me. By the time we reached Bangalore he was all smiling and bid me farewell before he left. 

I reached Bangalore at around 9:00 PM and I was damn tired by the bus journey but happy to have spent two days in a beautiful place with such rich history. I had met kind people who helped me with my travel. I will always cherish this solo travel of mine,  to Badami.


  1. Gorgeous pictures, and cool write-up!

  2. Looks like a wonderful place.

  3. Great blogpost
    Seems like we were there at almost the same time in Badami (we were there on 29th Dec)..Quelle Coincidence !

  4. nice...........I miss u uttar Karnataka

  5. Hey nice write up. I'm planning to go there in feb.


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