Monday, August 27, 2012

A Chalukyan Pilgrimage III - Badami, the shining red sandstone

Agastya Lake
  Close to noon I reached Badami bus stand. My first destination was Badami ASI museum which is in a walkable distance from bus stand. For all those who plan to walk, let me tell you that temperature is high don’t expect any shades under tree.

After walking for 10-15 minutes (close to one in the afternoon) I reached ASI's Badami field museum - located on a side of Agastya Lake - which is still under construction.

Badami Museum

Here you can see the sculptures of 9th century Ganesha, big 'Makara Torana', Tripuranthaka Shiva, Mother Goddess, Shiva killing demon, Bhiravi, Veerabhadra, Kali and many other sculptures. This museum also contains genealogy of Chalukyan kings, language tree map and some geological information related to various eras as well.

Old cave temples are located on other side of the lake. Cave one dedicated to Shiva, two and three dedicated to Vishnu and four dedicated to Jains. Before going to caves let’s go through the history of Badami.

History of Badami (Vatapi)

Badami, the capital city of early Chalukyas, was founded in 540 AD by Pulakesi I. It's his sons - Kirthivarman and Mangalesha I - who constructed the cave temples. Pallavas under the leadership of King Narasimhavarman I seized the city in 642 AD. However, after 12 years Chalukyas under Vikramaditya I regained the city. Later when Rashtrakudas absorbed Karnataka in 757 AD Badami lost her prominence. After a series of wars between Chalukyas and Cholas finally the area was captured by Hoysalas.

During the reign of Vijayanagar Empire Badami fell it to their hands. After the fall of Vijayanagar Adil Shahis got the city, then it passed on to Savanur Nawabs. As the power of Maratha Confederacy increased overtime they able to capture the more land as well - Badami too came under Marathas. This city was also ruled by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan.

Hoever in the end Badami fell in to the hands of British and become the part of Bombay presidency. Now this town is coming in Bagalkot district in Karnataka.

Agastya Lake

After visiting museum, I slowly walked towards the Agastya Lake. This a big water body surrounded by red sand stone hills in an otherwise dry area. Even in that noon under the full view of sun there were so many people in an around the area. I started walking towards the other side of lake. On the way stand Shri Dattatreya temple and a mosque. As it was holy Ramdan month for Muslims there were prayers going on. After crossing the mosque I reached the foot of a hill. Cave temples are on this reddish hill.

Cave Temples 1,2,3,4

After buying the tickets, I slowly started the assent. On the left side stands cave one (dedicated to Shiva).

These rock cut cave temples mainly built in between sixth, seventh and eighth centuries. In each cave there is a veranda with stone pillars. After crossing the veranda you will reach a square room. In the other end of this room there is one more small room cut deep in to the rock - the Sanctum Sanctorum.

On the first cave you can see the figure of Lord Shiva with 18 hands in Tandava dancing pose. Apart from Shiva many other figures like dancing Ganapati, Nandi etc are also present in cave one.

From here I walked towards the second cave. Suddenly I heard a laud cry from behind. I suddenly turned around; it’s from a frightened lady standing 20 feet behind me. One monkey jumped close her leg took a plastic bag from her and ran away!!!

Second caves has the figures of Dvarapalakas holding lotus in their hands. Ceiling contains Ananthashayana, Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma and others.

Cave three dedicated to Lord Vishnu contains the beautiful figures of many deities. Please note that apart from sculptures caves in this hill also contains many murals as well.

Finally I walked towards the last cave - Cave number four dedicated to Jains. Sanctum has the image of Mahavira, images of many Jain Thirthankaras are there in the walls. After spending some more time here I walked towards the other side of Agastya Lake - Bhutanatha group of temples dedicated to the deity Bhutanatha stands here.

Kappe Arabhatta inscription, Badami and Malegitti-Shivalaya

From here I walked towards Kappe Arabhatta inscription dated to 700 AD. This inscription is carved on a cliff. After having some water from the cooler situated close to the museum I started the assent of Badami fort. There are a good number of steps and many view points in the between. Famous Malegitti-Shivalaya dated back to 7th century stands on the top. From here you will get a beautiful view of Badami.

Watch ticked five in the evening. I slowly started the dissent. After crossing the gates and walking through the road crowded heavily with homes I finally reached the main road. After tasting various food items available in the road side, I reach Badami bus stand. From here I got a bus to the railway station and then on another train to Bangalore.


How to reach?

By Bus: Direct buses are available from Bijapur, Bagalkot, Bangalore, Hospet etc.
By Train: You can get down at Badami Railway station which is very much close to Badami town. Trains (limited in number) are available from Sholpur, Gulberga, Bijapur, Gadang, Hubli, Bangalore (Yeshwantpur) etc.


Agastya Lake

Boothanatha Temples

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