Badami, Banashankari, Mahakuta, Pattadakal & Aihole – Part II

Further continuation from the previous blog –Initial Hiccups & Bijapur!

Plan from Bijapur to Badami & farther places was simple, reach Badami by 7.30 pm, stay at Badami, and next day cover Badami, Aihole & Pattadakal along the way, wrapping Banashankari & Mahakuta too by hiring a Auto or Taxi.

But then, there is always a twist. Thankfully, I did not let the focus steer away from the actual plan. Train arrived at Bijapur station at dot time, we had already reserved the tickets prior to the journey. It was a 3 hours journey against the beautiful backdrop of sunset, greenery, crossing many rivers (which I assumed as main river in that part – Krishna & its tributaries) including Almati Dam over Krishna River.

Since, we all had a harrowing previous night. Catching a nap was mandatory. I woke up after a power nap, saw the Almati dam. That one was a sight to behold. I saw a man rowing a coracle in the river. I made everyone get up to catch that sight. We had plan of cruising on a coracle at Hampi. Saw the beautiful, reddish orange lit sunset.  The entire route from Bijapur to Badami was stunning with rivers crossing the tracks at every few minutes.

We reached Badami by 7.30 pm.  As soon as we came out, we were greeted by Shrishail, who brought Nano car alongwith him. Initial plan was to hire an auto for Badami.  We settled our bags and ourselves in that mini car and were off to Badami. Being dark, we couldn’t make out the view outside. In next 15 minutes, we were at the heart of Badami. Shrishail had already booked the accommodations, which was a surprise. Being off-season, it came cheap.  We freshened ourselves because it was really a long day that went by right from travelling from Mumbai to Bijapur tour. By 9.00 pm, we came down for dinner and dozed off for the next beautiful day.

BADAMI:

We all got up early by 5.30 am to catch the Sunrise from Badami caves.  Munched some packed snacks, as to keep the tummy happy till 9.00 am, time when the city actually opens up. Badami is an ancient town, capital of the Chalukya Dynasty that ruled over the most parts of peninsular India.  Badami is comfortably tucked in between two rugged sandstone outcrops. This town lies surrounding the 5th century Agastya Tirtha Lake, a holy lake famous for the healing property of its water. Badami was earlier known by the name Vatapi. It is believed that this name is related to the legend of the demon Vatapi, which is associated with Sage Agastya. According to another story, Badami got its name from the Badam (Almond) color of the sandstone of this place.

The rock cut cave temples of Badami were constructed in between 6th and 8th centuries by the Chalukyas ‑ Kirthivarman and Mangalesha I. These cave temples are dedicated to the deities of Hinduism and Jainism.  Out of the four cave temples, one is dedicated to Lord Shiva; two are dedicated to Lord Vishnu, and another one to the Jain Tirthankaras. These temples are noted for the early style of South Indian style of temple architecture. The walls of these cave temples also have inscriptions that date back to 6th and 8th centuries. One has to climb the steep steps adjacent to these caves one after another.

We first ascended directly to the top i.e. Fourth cave – The only Jain cave housing statues of the Jain Tirthankaras in different postures. From here, one can view the entire Badami town alongwith the lake. Sun Rays falling on these caves, lit up the whole place, giving a magnificent texture to the surroundings including the lake. Being Saturday, the crowd started swelling in numbers. We started descending, visiting the Third cave – showcasing sculptures of Vishnu in different avatars, Narasimha (Vishnu as Man-Lion), Varaha, Harihara (Shiva Vishnu) and as Trivikrama. It was the grandest one. Next was second cave – Dedicated to Lord Vishnu and highlights the carvings and incarnations of Varaha (boar) and Vamana (dwarf).  Finally, the first cave which is dedicated to Lord Shiva with sculpture of the 18-armed Lord Nataraja (Dancing Shiva), and Shiva Lings.

After our usual photo shoots, admiring the sculptures with the addition of lots and lots of photography, we proceeded towards the Bhuthnatha  Temple. It was on the other end of the lake, we continued on foot. On the way, we gave a peek to Museum and Art Gallery, which is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. Beyond that we could see the stairs leading to the top of the Hill, some more temples on top.

I did realize that Badami alone requires more than a day to tour. Thinking of visiting again, we went ahead to the Bhutanatha group of temples. The Bhutanatha group includes two major temples, one on the east and the other on the north-east side of the Agasthya Tirtha or Agasthya Lake. The Bhutanatha temple is situated on the eastern side of the Agasthya Tirtha. The style is a blend of North Indian and early South Indian temple architecture. This temple seems to have been built in two stages. The inner hall and the shrine reflect the style of the Eastern Badami Chalukyas, while the outer hall represents the style of the Kalyani Chalukyas of the west. This temple came under the influence of Jains for a period of time.

Later, it was taken over by the Lingayats who installed a Shiva Linga in the shrine and a Nandi in front. The temple on the north-east side of the lake is the Mallikarjuna Temple which belongs to the period of the later Chalukyas, the Chalukyas of Kalyani. It has the tiered pyramid structure characteristic of Western Chalukya Architecture. We went around catching each and every angle of the majestic view in our camera.

BANASHANKARI TEMPLE:

We retraced our path back to the caves, where the car was parked, and further went towards Banashankari Temple. It was around 5 kms. We had our proper breakfast at the restaurant, took a tour of Temple. It is dedicated to Goddess Parvati, built by the Chalukyas  during the 7th Century. According to an inscription, this image of the Banashankari Amma was installed by Jagadekamalla I in 630 AD.

The temple was initially built in the Dravidian style of the Chalukyas. It was later rebuilt in the Vijayanagara and Maratha periods. In the sanctum, the goddess Banashankari is depicted in a seated posture, with eight arms. She is shown sitting on a lion, while crushing a demon under her foot. There is a square tank in front of the temple. This tank, originally called Harishchandra Tirtha, is now known as Haridra Tirtha. It is surrounded by a walkway, with stone mandapas on three sides. There are two Deepa Stambas, one on the west bank of the tank, and one at the entrance. The lamp tower by the side of the tank is also an unusual guard tower.

As per the Folklore, The Skanda Purana says that an Asura named Durgamasura lived in this region. He used to harass the people and made their life unbearable. The Devas were moved by their plight and prayed for a way to kill the Demon. Goddess Parvati answered their prayers. She came down to earth as Shakambari and killed Durgamasura after a fierce battle. Shakambari stayed on in the region to protect the people. She came to be known as Banashankari or Vanashankari. Vana means forest in Sanskrit, and Shankari means the consort of Lord Shankara.

MAHAKUTA TEMPLE:

Moved ahead towards Mahakuta in the opposite direction crossing Badami again, this was further 14 kms from town. Whole road was lined by Jowar, Sunflower fields alongwith Coconut plantations. Being Monsoon season it was green throughout. Road lead to a fork, which lead one road to Mahakuta and Pattadakal on other one. We decided to visit Mahakuta first.

Mahakuta is a place of religious and historic significance. These temples were built by the Badami Chalukyas, and reflect the Aihole style of temple building.  The most important temple here is the Mahakuteswara Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. It has a Shiva Linga in the shrine topped by a curvilinear tower. It is built in the Dravidian style. In the temple courtyard, there are several other small temples. There are around two dozen Shiva temples in a huge temple complex surrounding an attractive spring fed tank known as Vishnu Pushkarini.

PATTADAKAL:

We again went over to the fork and went further to Pattadakal –Group of Monuments. The first sight itself was jaw-dropping. We were in awe. It was hard to believe that so many beautifully carved temples are in single place grouped together. Jain Temple, Dolmen, Kadasiddheswara Temple,  Jambulingeswara Temple, Galaganatha Temple, Chandrashekhara Temple, Sangameswara Temple, Kasivisweswara Temple, Mallikarjuna Temple, Virupaksha Temple, Monolithic stone pillar bearing inscription, Papanatha Temple.   The tiny village of Pattadakal is situated on the banks of the Malaprabha river. This place reached its pinnacle of glory under the Chalukyas from the seventh to the ninth centuries functioning as a royal commemorative site. The group of about ten temples, surrounded by numerous minor shrines & plinths, represents the climax of early Western Chalukyan Architecture. King Vikramaditya II (734 – 745 AD) and his art loving queens Lokmahadevi and Trailkyamahadevi, brought sculptors from Kanchipuram to create fantasies in stone in Pattadakal.

Jambulinga Temple is a small temple with a fine figure of the Dancing Shiva with Nandi and Parvathi by his side. Built with a northern style tower, there is a horse-shoe arched projection on its facade.

The Mallikarjuna and the Virupaksha temples are rich in sculpture like those of Lingodbhava, Nataraja, Ravananugraha and Ugranarasimha. Built in the southern Dravida style, it is the largest temple in the enclosure.

Galaganath Temple  is built of sandstone, the tower is in the northern “Rekhanagara” style. The temple was probably never completed. It contains a beautiful sculpture of Shiva in the act of killing the Andhakasura.

Sanghameswara Temple is the oldest temple in Pattadakal, built in Dravidian style and consists of a sanctum, inner passage and a hall. There are sculptures on the outer wall like those of Ugranarasimha and Nataraja.

Kada Siddeshwara Temple  is a small North Indian style temple, consists of shrine & a hall. There is a fine sculpture which depicts Shiva holding a serpent & trident in his raised arms with Parvathi by his side.

Malikarjuna Temple is similar to the Virupaksha Temple but smaller in size. The ceiling has panels of Gajalakshmi and Nataraja with Parvathi. Pillars in the temple depict the birth and life of Krishna. There are sculptures of Mahishasuramardini (very similar to the one in Mamallapuram) and Ugranarasimha.

Papanatha Temple  contains impressive sculpted scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharatha.

We missed out on Jain Temple which was located half a kilometer away. It was around 2.30 pm and we were all hungry, we munched on tidbits that we carried to pacify our hunger. Of all the places, only Aihole was pending. We decided to give a brief visit to same and head back to Badami before dark.

AIHOLE:

Aihole was again on the banks of Malaprabha.  People co-habited with these temples. It is said that Aihole is the birth place of Art and Architecture that we see everywhere around.  Called Ayyavole and Aryapura in the inscriptions, Aihole is historically famous as the cradle of Hindu temple architecture. There are about 125 temples divided into 22 groups scattered all over the villages and nearby fields.  More temples are being excavated every day bearing witness to the vigorous experimentation on temple architecture which went on at Aihole more than 14 centuries ago.

We first visited the Ravanaphadi Cave, located south-east of the Hucchimalli Temple, is a rock-cut temple. Despite the variety of images found here, the Mahishasuramardhini, the great Dancing Shiva linga with Ganesha and sapta-matrikas and the linga inside the sanctum an overall Shiva application.

We were about to miss the Ladkhan Complex, when I saw the Structure of Durga Temple, whose image I had seen prior to visiting this place. Instantly told the friend to reverse the car, and went inside, it was a big area. This complex accommodated the Durga( here it meant Fort) Temple dedicated to Vishnu, Standing on a high platform with a ‘Rekhanagara’ type of Shikhara, it is the most elaborately decorated monument in Aihole and LadKhan Temple. The experimental nature of Temple building by the Chalukyas is best elaborated in the LadKhan Temple, located south of the Durga Temple.

Not knowing how to build a temple, they built it in the Panchayat hall style. The windows were filled up with lattice work in the northern style and the sanctum was added later on. The sanctum is built against the back wall and the main shrine has a Shivalinga along with a Nandi. Above the center of the hall, facing the sanctum, is a second smaller sanctum with images carved on the outer walls. The temple, built about 450 AD, gets its name from a Muslim prince who converted it into his residence.

We took more than an hour at this place, rested our achy feet on the green grasses. Since, the dusk was approaching faster, we thought of leaving soon.

To tour Aihole, it is advisable to go on foot, to get a better view & understanding of its architectural grandeur.

One hour is nothing compared to the magnificence of this place. It would require a day to sink in the historical importance of Aihole. There were many more temples spread throughout the village.

We left by 5.30 pm to go back over to Badami. While travelling to Pattadakal and Aihole there were many Sunflower fields, with some already matured and dried up some still fresh. I desperately wanted to get down and get myself clicked among my favorite flower – Sunshine – Sunflower.

Finally, while going back, we halted at one place, where the flowers were still basking under the sun and yes I imagined them smiling. We took the opportunity to hop around and get as many photograph as possible with them. After the extra bout of happiness, we halted at a bridge with Malaprabha river flowing under it. We got down on the rocks, sat there for some time to watch the sun go down and reverted back to Badami, where we had our night stay booked.

Next day was check-out from hotel and travel to Hampi via Hospet. As per the original plan, we would have boarded a bus from Badami to Hospet, which are available every half to one hour, and take an Auto to Hampi from Hospet which is like 15-20 minute distance. But then, Car was available to drop till Hampi.

Finally, with a promise to come back again, I left!

<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80"><strong>P.S. This is Part II of the 5 days trip – <a href="https://backpackersnovel.in/2014/08/15/initial-hiccups-bijapur-part-i/">Bijapur</a&gt;, Badami, Pattadakal, Banashankari, Mahakut, Aihole and <a href="https://backpackersnovel.in/2014/08/17/hampi-pampakshetra-of-kishkindha-capital-of-vijayanagara-empire/">Hamp</a>i. Information on places incorporated in the blog are sourced from net. </strong>P.S. This is Part II of the 5 days trip – Bijapur, Badami, Pattadakal, Banashankari, Mahakut, Aihole and Hampi. Information on places incorporated in the blog are sourced from net. 

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