Thursday, August 18, 2011
Badami - The Pride of Chalukyas
A Trip to Badami
Badami is a small town with a lot of tourist traffic.
We went on a trip to Badami to see the rock cut caves that were much talked about, but there is a lot ot Badami than the caves. Badami has a legecy as old as our puranas. Today it is the most sought out shooting location for south indian movies. Why wouldn't it be? The town of Badami is rich in heritage and offers magnificient views to its visitor. The monuments and temples of Badami are a testment to its former glory. The rough looking raviens have embraced the splendid architecture into their arm, like a mother hugging her child and kept the monuments safe for the future generations. The Chalukyas could not have chosen a more beautiful and safe location for their capital. Under the patronage og great kings this once great city florished and expanded. The kings experimented on different architecture and built enormous temples in different styles, the result was a fantastic group of temples all boosting and beeming with the pride of Chalukyas.
Every stone in this place has a story to tell, every rock has earned its place in the world. The enormous cliffs, rugged in appearance have been chiselled hard to look like handsome gaints. People usually visit Badami as part of a package which includes Hampi and Bijapur, that gives you only one day to see Badami, Pattadakal, Aihole, Mahakuta, Banashankari but if you can spare a weekend then you could really enjoy Badami. There are many who just go by the travel guide, but if you are a little bit free spirited you could really enjoy the stay in Badami. Those who are interested in photography will have a great time here as the town itself is a historical site and offers many picturic scenes. Trekking is another activity you will enjoy in Badami. The cliffs in and around Badami offer beatiful sights and scenic locations.
We reached the little station of Badami early in the morning by train, the station was so small it barely had a platform but was severly populated with monkeys. When we came out ther were service autos which the local population used for general commute between Badami and Banasankari. There autos were hurriedly filled in and were on the way even before we decide to take an autorickshaw. Finally we joined with another couple and took an auto to Badami there we checked into a KSDC hotel which was astone throw away from the monuments of Badami. If you are interested you can see the whole town of Badami on foot taking in the local culture. There are other hotels on the way to Badami from the station, which looked far better than the KSDC one we checked into but who was going to stay in the hotel all day anyway, besides if we check into those hotels we have to use their transportation as they are far from the town. We prefer to do it our own way spend as much time as we want in a place we want, not to rush according to a certain timetable.
First thing we visited after reaching Badami were not the caves, we went to the excursions around Badami. First on our list to see was Pattadakal, a village where a group of temples were built using different styles of architecture. Pattadakal got it's name thus as the place where the kings used to be crowned. It is one of the three centers of experimentation of temple architecture and construction. These group of temples include shrines of Papanatha, Kasivisveswara, JAmbulinga, Galagalanatha, Mallikarjuna, Sansameshwara and Virupaksha. The Nandi here is still offered puja here in Pattadakal. The walls are decorated with intricate rock cut designs of Gods, Godesses, Demi-Gods, Celestial and Mythical creatures.
From there we went to Aihole which is the place where the experimentation has first started. It contains one important temple which marks the beginning of the many temples in Pattadakal and Badami.
Mahakuta has one of the most famous Shiva temple which was revered by the great kings themselves. The temple has an aura of ancient mystic energy which we can experience only by being there. There Tall banyan trees that welcome us to this temple are the sentinals of time. Here, even today people come in crowds and reside in the temple premises cooking and praying, singing praises of the Lord and immersing themselves in the mysticism of the temple.
While Mahakuta is the temple for their Prime God Shiva, Banashankari is the temple of Mother Shakti, the consort of Shiva. Pujas were performed here for centuries, it is said that the Mother grants every wish of the devotees who come to visit her.
The next day we spent he whole day in Badami taking in the beauty of the rockcut caves, the Vatapi lake, the fort of Badami and the spread of temples that lay over the expansion. The Vatapi Ganapathi temple and the Bhuthnath temple lie on the banks of the lake.
Badami fort lies east of the Buthnath temple, atop a cliff right opposite the Badami cave temples. The entrance to this fort is right through the Badami museum. It is a steep climb with many view points and dotted with little shrines. The path is laid with neatly cut stone, the same that adores all the architecture around Badami.
The people of Badami have traditions as old as its legecy. We can still see the age old customs, traditions followed here as those that have been followed during the age of kings that ruled this place. The same idols are worshipped for centuries inside the same sanctums, the same lights are lit and the same rituals performed.