Exploring the Ruins of History in North Karnatka-1: Badami

I started my journey from Hyderabad to visit the historical sites of north Karnataka. My target was to visit Badami, Pattadakal, Aihole and Humpi in the weekend. It was again a quick restlessness journey. I booked ticket on Karnataka State Bus to Bagalkot. The best thing in Karnataka is that you can book bus ticket in advance from their website like a train ticket. You can choose ordinary, sleeper or AC buses. There is no direct train available from Hyderabad to Bagalkot. If you wish to travel by train, either you have to go via bellary, hospet and gadak or you have to go via Bijapur. I choosed rather to go by a State Bus.
So, I boarded the 10 pm bus to Bagalkot from Hyderabad MG Bus Stand. Bagalkot is the district headquarter of Badami, Pattadakal and Aihole. I reached Bagalkot early in the morning about 5 o’clock. Highways are good there, so journey was comfortable except some long stretches en-route, where road condition was not so well.
From Bagalkot, I changed another bus to Badami. It took almost an hour to cover the distance of 30 kms. Badami is a small Tehsil famous for its caves. In history it is referred as Vatapi and was the center of ancient Chalukyan glory.

Badami..An Old Glory

Other ways to reach Badami:
The nearest airport to reach Badami is at Belgaum (150 kms). The nearest international airport is at Bangalore (504 kms) and Hyderabad (350 kms) .
Badami town is situated on the Hubli-Sholapur rail route which is exactly 163 kms from Bijapur and 128 kms from Hubli. Badami is connected by road to Pattadakal (22 kms), Aihole (44 kms) and Hubli (128 kms). Karnataka State Transport Corporation buses ply from Badami to different major locations of the state.

My Excursion:
When I reeahced, this small town was just waking up. Some shops were started their businesses, mainly food stalls and dhabas. There are 4-5 small hotels also available in Badami. I went in a small lodge to be ready to my excursion.

Badami Town in early Morning

I first went to see a beautiful hill of badami fort, where ancient temples are scattered all around. There were no tourist in that area, mainly because of early hours and also because of tourists are mainly interested in Badami Caves only.
Badami Fort
When you entered the fort area, you first see an archaeological museum just at the entrance.
The archaeological museum has Nandi, Lord Shiva’s bull, at its entrance. This museum is closed on Fridays. It houses superb examples of local sculptures which I was able to saw only from outside as museum was closed in the early morning.

The Archaeological Museum

Walking further, I reached Bhutnath Temple Complex. These temples are situated along the edge of the serene lake, one flanking the north and the other to its northeast. Raised to Lord Shiva as the lord of the five elements (bhuthaas) the temples was constructed in 5th century.

Buthanath Temple Complex

Beautiful Lake

Another Temple

From there, I climbed on a small hill of the fort with the Upper and Lower Shivalayas. The Upper Shivalaya, built by Pulakesan II, a devotee of Lord Vishnu is marked by sculpted tales from mythology on its outer walls. Look for the lion and elephant heads atop the temple steps.

A portion of Badami Fort..May be watch tower

A view of Badami town from the hill

Elephant on Rock-Cut

The Lower Shivalaya was raised to Lord Ganesh. To its north a 16th century cannon looks down on the township. The watchtower, a little further on, is believed to date to the 14th century.

Badami Caves
Caves are on the walking distance from the Fort. There is tomb outside the entrance of the caves, which is belive to be the mosque of Adilshahi Sultans of Bijapur.

A Tomb

Badami Guide Map

Badami is famous for its four cave temples – all cut out of sand stone on the precipice of a hill. Legend has it there were two demon siblings Vatapi and Ilvala, who had a trick by which they could kill and make a meal of mendicants passing by. Their tricks worked until Agastya muni came by and counter-tricked them and brought an end to Vatapi’s life. Two of the hills in Badami are supposed to represent the demons Ilvalan and Vatapi.

The four cave temples represent the secular nature of the rulers then, with tolerance and a religious following that inclines towards Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

Cave Temple 1
The first temple dating back to the 5th century CE has gigantic carvings of Ardhanareeswara and Harira manifestations of Shiva in bas relief. It enshrines a Shivalingam. In the adjacent wall there is a carving of the cosmic dance of Shiva Nataraja depicted with eighteen arms. There are also reliefs of Ganapati, Shanmukha and Mahishasuramardhini, and may be the oldest in Badami. It is made of red sandstone and has a hall with numerous pillars and a squareshaped sanctum hollowed in the control back wall.

Shiva Nataraja

A view of Badami Fort from Badami Caves

Cave Temple 2
The second temple bears images of Vishnu in his Varaha and Trivikrama incarnations. It is reached through a flight of 64 stairs from the first one. On its celing, are carvings of Vishnu on Garuda and several other scenes from the puranas.

Cave Temple 3
The third rock cut temple is reached from the 2nd temple through a flight of 60 steps. It is a 100 feet dep cave, with inscriptions dating this Vishnu temple to 578 CE during, the period of Kiritivarma Chalukya. Here there are carved images of the Narasimha and Trivikrama avataras of Vishnu. There are also murals depicting the divine marriage of Shiva and Parvati.

Trivikrama avataras

Cave Temple 4
Cave temple 4 relates to 6th century Jainism. There is a carving of the Tirthankara Parshavnatha (with a serpent at his feet). Mahavira is depicted in a sitting posture.


A hamlet of Badami Town

After visiting this beautiful town of Badami, I headed towards my next destination Pattadakal.


  • Virag Sharma says:

    Nice one . Thanks for sharing this good info.

  • Anu says:

    Nice one! The pics are great. Just wanted to ask you how long it took you to cover Badami, Aihole and Pattadakkal. I am planning a trip to the same places later this year, only I am planning it in reverse – from Hampi to all these places and then back to Hampi, since I am travelling by train to and from Guntakal.

    • avanishmaurya says:

      Thanks..I think one day will be enough to cover Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal, if you will use own transportation. Badami-Pattadakal..22 Kms…and then Pattadakal..Aihole…15 kms..Badami fort and Badami Caves are very close, so it will not take more than 3-4 hrs. Pattadaka Temple Complex will take 2 hrs and Aihole village will take 3-4 hrs to see all the sites. I did it in a single day using public buses comfortably. For Hampi 2 full days will be required to explore all the ruins, i hurriedly completed one day trip there, but wanted 2 b der one more day.

      • Anu says:

        Thanks a lot, Avinash. I am going to be staying at Hampi, so guess I can manage to see quite a bit. I am planning to stay overnight at Badami, and visiting the other places from there. I guess some autos or such vehicles would be available to visit all the 3?

  • Stone says:

    Brilliant post buddy, nice narration with great photographs.

    Buthanath Temple Complex will remain in my memory for a long time.

    Thanks a lot!!

  • Onil Gandhi says:

    well written… the pics were well taken

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Dear Avanish,

    Thanks for sharing the unexplored places with us.

    Pictures are awesome , especially Buthnath temple & the view of Badami from the hills.

  • ssk agra says:

    nice and good pictures Thanking you

  • very nice pics dude…have always been fond of such places and after reading this, have added badami town to my list of places to see…thanks for sharing..

  • Gita AM says:

    Fantastic place well worth visiting. We did not know about it or would have gone there in 2002 during our Hampi Bijapur trip. Next time …. Lovely photos.

  • manish khamesra says:

    Only a day before your post I was talking with my French friend about the places he visited during the recent trip. He told me that he visited Hampi and Badami. I did not hear about Badami before, so I was wondering what’s there and then came your post and I got my question answered.

    Great Avanish. Keep on travelling and keep on writing.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Thanks for sharing this brilliant piece of writing on the lesser known cultural heritage of India. I never knew about the magnitude and beauty of the monuments at Badami.

    Your post has created an urge to visit Hampi, Badami and adjacent sites.

  • wonder full explanation and pictures i can add details about badami to my website http://www.bangaloretraveltourism.com.

  • Sridhar says:

    Avinash.I am planning to this month end to Bijaopur and near places.your post helped me lot.
    Thank you very much.

  • srinivas Achar Tour Guide says:

    Your have taken excellent photos which helps the tourist who come to badami and hampi
    any how I am a Tour Guide in French language. I could see them often

  • sachin says:

    Hi..could you also provide more information on stay options at Badami. Ar there any good resorts in Badami. How is the local food? Are there good food joints in this historical place.

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