Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Badami, Karnataka

Steeped in rich history, the picturesque town of Badami is world-famous for its magnificent cave complex. Set amidst a landscape of rust red sandstone cliffs, this historic town was the capital of the powerful Early Chalukya kings, who ruled the Deccan during the 6th-7th centuries AD. Badami derived its name from the legend of Batapi, the demon who was devoured by Agastya the sage. 

After their defeat at the hand of the Rashtrakutas, Chalukya king Pulakesi I (535-66) built the new capital at Badami. In 640 CE, Pallavas, who had been defeated by Pulakesi II, captured and pillaged Badami to avenge their defeat. Badami was also in the possession of the Vijayanagar Kings, the Adil Shahis, the Savanur Nawabs, the Marathas, Hyder Ali and finally the British who annexed it to the Bombay Presidency.

Among the rulers who held sway in Badami, King Kirit Barman I (567-598) took the lead in building some splendid temples with his brother Mangalesa (598-610) following suit. The cave temples of Badami came up due to the efforts of the latter. Travel to Badami for a glimpse of these temples. Among the four cave temples, three are Brahmanical temples while the fourth cave is a Jain temple dating back to the 7th century. The cave temples are an integral part of Badami tourism.

Places to See:

Cave Temples

The cave temples figure prominently in the itinerary of tourists descending on Badami. Perched atop a flight of 200 steps, the temple complex consists of four ancient rock-cut caves replete with carved pillars and bracket figures. Of the four temples, three are Brahmanical temples while the fourth one is a Jain cave. The third cave temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, stands out among the lot for its sheer size and sculptural elegance. 

Badami Fort

An uneven, steep and winding flight of steps between caves 2 and 3 lead to the imposing Badami fort. Within the ramparts of the fort, nestle a large granary, an underground chamber which must have served as a treasury or private audience hall and many other architectural marvels. The fort, whose chief attraction is the Tipu's cannon, also houses a carved temple raised on top of the northern end of the hill. 

Agasthya-Tirtha Lake

The 5th century Agastya-Tirtha Lake located beneath the cave temples is considered holy due to the healing powers of the lake water. The eastern banks of the Agasthya-Tirtha Tank are dotted with a cluster of Bhoothanatha temples. 

Bhoothanatha and Malegitti Temples

The Bhoothanatha temple houses an 18-armed Shiva, Ganesh, Mahishamardini Durga, Varaha and Nrisingha incarnations of Vishnu. The pillared hallway is ornamented with exquisite artwork. The Malegitti Visalia Temple (late 7th century) is another major attraction of Badami.


Badami Excursions

Visit Aihole for a glimpse of the Hindu temple architecture. Aihole was the first capital of the Chalukyan Empire and hundreds of temples dot the scenic landscape of this village. The prominent temple groups are the Kontigudi group and the Galaganatha group. 

Banashankari Temple (50 km)

The quaint village of Banashankari takes its name from the goddess Banashankari and the Banashankari Devi temple. The temple features the idol of Banashankari (Goddess Parvati) seated on a snarling lion. The Banashankari Devi fair held annually in January on the full moon day is a colorful affair and attracts a large gathering. 

Mahakuta (14 km)

Once an abode of the Shaiva cult, Mahakuta is renowned for the Mahakuteshwara Temple dedicated to Shiva is built in the Dravidian style. The Mahakuta Pillar, discovered near the Mahakuteshwara temple, displays an important Badami Chalukya inscription ascribed to king Mangalesa, second son of Pulakesi I. Dated 595 CE, the inscription provides information about the Chalukya lineage, their military expeditions, their conquests and early monuments............

How to Reach Badami

The nearest airport from Badami is the one at Belgaum, approximately 145 km from the city. It is well connected with all the major destinations in the country. For instance, Deccan Air flies regular flights from Belgaum airport, to Mumbai and Bangalore.

Badami has its own railways station, connected with the major cities in Karnataka. It takes four hours to get to Badami from Hampi, by the Guntakal Express. Tangas and auto rickshaws ply from the station to the town.

Badami is connected by road to Pattadakal (22 km), Aihole (44 km), Hubli (110 km) and Bangalore (502 km)............

Aihole, Karnataka

Located on the banks of the Malaprabha River, the village of Aihole in Karnataka is a veritable mélange of ancient Hindu temple architecture. Hundreds of temple structures dot the serene surroundings of the village and the fields nearby. During the reign of the Chalukyas, Aihole was the first capital of the Chalukyan Empire. The name Aihole originated from a legend associated with the cult figure of Parashurama in Hindu mythology.

The cluster of temples in Aihole belongs to two ages, first in the 6th and 7th centuries and the second set of temples belonging to the 12th and 13th centuries. The prominent temple groups are the Kontigudi group and the Galaganatha group. The Kontigudi group is a set of three temples consisting of the Lad Khan temple, Huchiappayyagudi temple and the Huchiappayya math.

The Galaganatha group has nearly 30 temples scattered on the bank of the river Malaprabha. Galaganatha temples are characterized by a curvilinear shikhara above the Garba Griha and images of the deities of Ganga and Yamuna at the entrance to the shrine. 

Devotees travel to this quaint village in large numbers. The magnificent temples of Aihole should be promoted in the media to tap their tourism potential.

Places to See:

Durga Temple

Best known of the Aihole temples, the Durga temple resembles a Buddhist chaitya for its apsidal plan. The composite temple structure comprises a high moulded adisthana, a mukha mandapa, sabha mandapa and a shikhara over the garba griha. A pillared corridor runs around the temple, enveloping the shrine, the mukhamandapa and the sabhamandapa. The pillars are ornamented with intricate carvings of Siva on his Rishaba vaahnam and Vishnu on his Garuda vaahanamon one side and Vaarahar and Mahishasura Mardini trampling the buffalo demon on the other side. 

Ravanaphadi Temple

Tours to Aihole would be incomplete without a visit to the Ravanaphadi temple. Scooped out of rocks, this temple dates back to the second half of the 7th century. The rectangular shrine has two mandapams in front of it and a rock cut Shivalingam. On the ceiling of the chamber connecting the front square mandapa and the main shrine are carvings of Lord Vishnu on his Garuda Vaahanam, a central lotus design and Indraa on his Airaavatam. 

Ladh Khan Temple

One of the most ancient temples in Aihole, the Ladh Khan temple consists of a shrine with two mandapams in front of it. The temple derives its name from a Muslim mendicant Ladh Khan, who used to live in the temple premises in the 19th century. The mukhamandapa in front of the sanctum has a set of 12 carved pillars. The sabhamandapa in front of the mukhamandapa has pillars arranged in such a manner as to form two concentric squares. 

Meguti Jain Temple

Perched atop a hillock, the Meguti Jain temple sits on a raised platform, and a flight of steps leads one to the mukhamandapa. The roof of the mukhamandapa is an ideal vantage point to have a panoramic view of the plain with a hundred or more temples. From a historic standpoint, the Meguti temple has an inscription on its foundation stating that it was built in the year 634 CE. This inscription also contains a reference to the poet Kalidasa.


Aihole Excursions

Badami (44 km)

The picturesque town of Badami is renowned for its cave temples. Scooped out of a red sandstone rock on the cliff of a hill, the four cave temples of Badami are must-haves on the itinerary of tourists. Out of the four temples, three are Brahmanical temples (2 dedicated to Vishnu and one to Shiva) and one is a Jain cave temple of the 7th century. 

Pattadakal (22 km)

A must have in excursions from Aihole. A UNESCO World Heritage Site for its ancient temple complex, Pattadakal was the second capital of the Chalukya dynasty after Aihole. A treasure-trove of temples epitomizing the zenith of Chalukyan architecture, Pattadakal makes a perfect excursion from Aihole

Koodalasangama (45 km)

A great pilgrimage center of Hindus, Koodalsangama is worth a visit for the magnificent temples that embody the Chalukyan temple architecture. The confluence of the Krishna and the Malaprabha rivers add to the scenic surroundings............

How to Reach Aihole

The nearest airport is Belgaum-189 km, which is connected to Mumbai by Vayudoot flights.

The nearest railhead is Bagalkot -- 34km on the Hubli-Sholapur meter gauge line.

Aihole is connected by road to Pattadakal (17 kms), Badami (44 kms) and Bangalore (490 kms)............
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