In the month of December 2017, I found a long weekend – 23 to 25th December and googled a few places around and finalized on Bijapur and Badami in Karnataka, India.
Bijapur district is historically, traditionally and legendarily, one of the richest districts in the state. The evidence found here reveals that it was an inhabited place since the Stone Age.
Bijapur, officially known as Vijayapura, is situated in Karnataka, India. It is well known for its historical monuments of architectural importance built during the rule of the Adil Shahi dynasty.
The city was established in the 10th-11th centuries by the Kalyani Chalukyas and was known as Vijayapura (City of victory). Yadavas ruled after Chalukyas. In 1347, it was conquered by the Bahmani Sultanate and then Bijapur Sultanate ruled from the city. Relics of the Sultanates’ rule can be found in the city even today.
My friend and I booked our tickets from Goibibo. Mumbai to Bijapur (INR 2400 to and fro). We got a bus from Santacruz at 6 pm on 22nd Dec (Friday evening after office) and reached Bijapur on 23rd i.e. a Saturday around 6 : 30 am.
For the first time ever, we went without booking anything apart from these bus tickets.
After getting down at the bus stop, we realized that Gol Gumbaz (a monument that could not participate for “7 Wonders of the World” because of the rule that monuments have to be complete! For this gorgeous monument to be complete, only dome’s end cap was pending) was just a kilometer away.
We took a shared auto for INR 10 each and reached Gol Gumbaz.
Entry fee is INR 50 for an Indian and INR 300 for a foreigner
We bumped into Mr. Ramesh – our amazing guide. He has been featured on a lot of television travel channels. Unfortunately, I lost his number. Nonetheless, there are guides around the entrance or you can also specifically ask for Mr. Ramesh. I highly recommend getting a guide for yourself to know the immensely rich history behind these places and their culture.
Post the visit, we were planning to find accommodation and learned that a girl was raped and the city was closed! What a bummer, right? So we tweaked our plan and decided to head towards Badami.
Read my Bijapur stories here– Karnataka less explored (II)
Badami was previously known as Vataapi Badami, the capital of the early Chalukya dynasty, which ruled much of Karnataka from the 6th to the 8th century. Badami is situated on the west bank of a man-made lake ringed by an earthen wall with stone steps; it is surrounded on the north and south by forts built in later times.
We reached Vijaypur station (INR 20 ) in an auto that we caught right outside Golgumbaz. Took a train ticket to Badami ( INR 100 each ) and left for a 2-hour journey. The trains to Badami are frequent. We had no prior booking of these.
After coming out of Badami station, we saw a lot of auto guy and selected one. He charged us INR 150 to drop us to our hotel. We had decided to stay at Hotel Rajsangam Internation but upon reaching there we came to know there is no vacancy and left to hunt for more hotels with the same auto guy.
We had not luck with another 3 -4 hotels and the 5th one was also full. That was the last hotel in Badami!!
Search for hotels in Badami here. I highly recommend booking one beforehand
We started panicking and then luckily we came to know of a newly opened Hotel Kalyani in the vicinity. We bargained our stay at INR 800 and took accommodation there.
Internal Travel In Badami
After freshening up, we called the same auto guy – Mr. Manjunath +91 8105197021 for that day’s and the next day’s sightseeing. We really got good and safe vibes from him. I would highly recommend touring with him for safety purpose.
We browsed through the history of Badami. After coming out of the museum, we were surrounded and attacked by monkeys! Others walked past these monkeys who were battling amongst themselves without any fear, when we tried to do the same, we were almost attacked by them!
We finally came out with help from the museum caretaker and left for spot
We started walking towards the temple and the scenario with the monkeys just got worse! We were the only ones who were attacked! We figured that it was since we were hiding our handbag and protecting them with our scarves and hands whereas others were not. We replicated that and still no luck !!!
Since we wanted to see the temple, we persuaded our auto guy to tag along and help keep monkeys away from us.
These monkeys were the most notorious of the lot we had ever encountered! We went a little ahead since there were no monkeys. In no time, a troop of monkeys came and surrounded us! I felt like Jon Snow with his team surrounded by the WhiteWalkers! Manjunath also failed at shooing them away. Another local saw this and came to our rescue.
I’ve never felt this sense of fear and relief EVER in my life!
The caves are considered an example of Indian rock-cut architecture especially Badami Chalukya architecture, which dates from the 6th century.
- Caves 1 to 4 are in the escarpment of the hill in soft sandstone formation
- In Cave 1, among various sculptures of Hindu divinities and themes, a prominent carving is of the Tandava-dancing Shiva as Nataraja.
- Cave 2 is Vishnu as Trivikrama.
- The largest cave is Cave 3, featuring Vishnu-related mythology, and it is also the most intricately carved cave in the complex.
- Cave 4 is dedicated to Jainism.
- Around the lake, Badami has additional caves of which one may be a Buddhist cave. Another cave was discovered in 2015, about 500 meters (1,600 ft) from the four main caves, with 27 Hindu carvings.
After reaching the entrance of the caves, we spotted monkeys around and we decided to not visit the caves because there were more on top. However, we saw a swarm of tourists on the top unaffected by the monkeys. We just had horrid luck with the monkeys that day maybe.
We visited 3 local temples, prayed and left. Near temple 3, there was a local boy aged around 10-11 who was literally harassing us and the activities were not at all childlike. We asked for some help from an uncle but he didn’t want to even tell him a word. Just beware and be ready to help yourself out in such scenarios. Carry pepper spray /chili powder for your safety.
I had read on a few blogs about a spot where there are a lot of sunflowers. Unfortunately, Manjunath didn’t know of any. While we were heading home, I spotted sunflower fields! I yelled and asked him to halt. We saw a stunning sunset while in the fields.
We had a sumptuous dinner of dosas at a local hotel and retired for the day since we had plans of getting up at 4 the next day.
We called Manjunath at 5 am and left for Patadakkal. The road was pitch black. We traveled for 30-40 minutes in sheer darkness and silence. We realized that time that we were lucky to have Manjunath with us. We could have been horribly screwed if the auto guy wasn’t a good one. These roads were not inhabited by anyone, there were no houses ANYWHERE in the radius of 10 km, no lights apart from the auto headlights.
We reached by 5: 30 and the gates opened at 6 and were the first ones to enter. We HAD THE ENTIRE PLACE TO OURSELVES (and also that we were safe)!
The place was humongous and beautiful. A guide came to us but since we were low on cash, we refused him. I would again strongly recommend hiring a guide.
Entry fees – INR 40 for Indians.
Patadakkal was where early Chalukyan kings used to be crowned. The Dravidian Vimana style of architecture was given a final go-ahead. The early Chalukayan art was known for its grace, vigor, rich imagination and delicate details. You can see illustrations and narratives from the stories and epics of Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavat Gita.
Post this we left for Krishna river sangam. I had read on blogs that 2 rivers meet here. We traveled 2 hours one way for this place and were really disappointed in not seeing two distinct rives meet. The meeting point was just like a normal river flow.
But of course, the river was mighty. The flow was gorgeous and one of its kind experience since we could see the river from a protruding bridge hanging on it. Despite the long travel, I would suggest visiting this place if you have time.
Aihole, 35km from Badami is famous for Jain, Buddhist, and Hindu monuments from 4th to 12th century! The fell for the architectural styles during this time! It was an important place during the Chalukya reign.
Parashurama, the sixth Vishnu avatar, is stated in these legends to have washed his axe here after killing abusive Kshatriyas who were exploiting their military powers, giving the land its red color
We were disappointed by the way these monuments were maintained. In fact, they were not maintained at all! Poverty amongst the locals had forced them to built their dwellings in and around the monuments!
A monolithic temple is called Ravanpahadi. It is said that Raavan installed a stone pillar marking his victory in front of this stone which is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
It has a Shiva Gangadhara, c. 600 CE, which shows the great god gently lowering Ganga – to earth using his hair, kitchen, yoga illustrations, ganesh, goddess and other mythological stories.
And do you know the most interesting part? A fellow cleaner with a broom told us the stories of this monument for TWO HOURS with a tip of just INR 50!
The Huchchappayana Matha
There are two parts here- one of a temple and another of Matha. The Ganga-Yamuna are in a triple bend pose here. at the entrance. These show an amazing craftmanship of 4th Century!!
The Durga temple near the entrance to the main temple complex has a ‘U’ shaped structure, thought to imitate the Buddhist chaitya halls. And we were told this is the temple which inspired the architectural plans of India’s parliament building.
We reached home by 6 pm and retired for the day.
Manjunath dropped us to Badami station where we left for Bijapur. He charged us approximately INR 2500 for these days (minus hotel hopping charges on day 1)
We spent INR 100 per person for a train ticket and waited for our train with hoards of monkeys! We had to be very cautious of our belongings since some notorious monkeys were also stealing things! We were the happiest as soon as we boarded the train half an hour later. Please check the train timings with any local / Manjunath and reach there an hour earlier.
After 2 hours, we reached Bijapur.
Read our adventure stories in Bijapur here.
Other blogs you might find blogs interesting :
Hampi, Hippie Island– Read here
Gokarna, Karnataka – Read here
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