Badami – Aihole – Pattadakal- A tale of Chalukya era architechture

What a human can do with red sandstone and tool?

He can express his art without even uttering a word which can be seen centuries later.

Badami, Pattadkal  and Aihole are testimony to the Chalukyas  dynasty who ruled from 540 to 757 AD . Badami was the capital of Chalukyas and is famous for rock cut caves, sculptures and architectural monuments carved out of red sandstone.

Badami was earlier known as Vatapi Badami named after the Mythology story according to which the wicked asura Vatapi was killed by sage Agastya in Badami, hence the area in which the incident happened was known as Vatapi.

Badami  is located in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka. It is located at a distance of 40km from Bagalkot, 120km from Bijapur, 150km From Hampi, 100km from Hubli, 423km from Hyderabad.

Day 1: Road trip from Hyderabad – Badami

The route taken to reach Badami was Hyderabad -> Mahabubnagar->Raichur->Bagalkot->Badami with a total distance of 422 kms. The road conditions are pretty good except stretch from Bhutpur to Mehbubnagar.   We started at 10 am and reached Badami at 8 pm with a lunch break and tea breaks. We checked in at Badami Resort and after dinner decided to take rest.

There was a small beautiful bird sleeping on the tree leaf opposite our resort room. Imagine sleeping in the natural breeze of air on a floating leaf. We decided not to disturb her.



Day 2:  Visit to Aihole and Padakkal

Aihole – Cradle of Hindu rock architecture

Aihole is located at 32 km from Badami with Pattadkal in the middle which is about  22 km from Badami. We decided to visit Aihole first and visit Pattadkal during our return. The initial road was under construction and being village road the road condition was average. There are limited public transport options available and most people prefer to travel by their own transport.

After reaching Aihole , we hired a local guide who explained that Aihole was known as the ‘cradle of Hindu rock architecture’. It was said to be the learning place for temple building art. There are many mini temple which corroborate this. There are more than 120 well maintained temples in Aihole. Chalukya art and architecture originated in Aihole in 4th century  and reached its peak in Padakkal and Badami.

The main attraction in Aihole is the Durga temple which is said to be the inspiration to the Indian Parliament design.


A  sculpture showing the yoga position which depicts the practice of yoga in ancient India.


Pattadkal – an UNESCO World Heritage site

After Aihole visit, we moved to Pattadkal and had our lunch there. Being a village, there are limited eating options available and we had to content with meals.

Pattadkal  is an UNESCO World Heritage site. It was the capital of the Chalukya dynasty  between the 6th and 8th centuries. The monuments constructed here dates between 7th and 8th Century. Despite being  old, the monuments are well maintained. Each temple has beautiful sculptures and one can spend a whole day admiring the beauty of these sculptures and temple architecture in Pattadkal.


A distant view of Pattadkal monuments.


Sculpture showing Amrath manthan by God and demons

Day 3: Badami Caves and Bhootnatha temple 

On the last day at Badami, we visited Badami cave temples. Badami is located on the bank of Agastya lake

There are four cave temples dating back to 6th century. A view of cave temple from outside below.


Cave temple 1: This is said to be the oldest cave temple  in Badami and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The cave portrays Lord Shiva as Natraj ( the dancing Shiva) with his son Lord Ganesha and Nandi.


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Cave temple 2 : This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.  Lord  Vishnu is also portrayed in various avatars as Trivikrama , Varaha and Krishna.


Lord Vishnu depicted in avatar of Vamana: Lord Vishnu depicted in avatar of Trivikrama (Vamana) depicted with one foot mastering the Earth and the other the sky.

Vishnu  in Vamana avatar, a dwarf Brahmin,  approached Mahabali and request three paces of land. Bali agreed, and the dwarf then changed his size to that of a giant. He stepped over heaven in his first stride, and the netherworld with the second. Bali realized that Vamana was Vishnu incarnate and offered his head as the third place for Vamana to place his foot. The avatar did so and thus granted Bali immortality.


Lord Vishnu in Varaha avarar rescuing earth as Bhudevi

Lord Vishnu depicted in avatar of  Varaha:

In Varaha Avatar, Lord Vishnu incarnates himself as a boar and brought out the earth from under the ocean, using its two tusks. It then killed Hiranyaksha

Cave temple 3:  This cave is the largest among all caves dating back to 578 AD and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.  Lord Vishnu is also depicted in different avatars as Narasimha (half human, half lion), Varaha, Harihara and Trivikrama.


Lord Vishnu on a serpent

Cave temple 4 : This cave dates to 6th century and is dedicated to Jainism. There is a carving depicting Mahavira in a sitting posture. There is a another carving of the Tirthankara Parshavnatha with a serpent at his feet (Pl see image below).


The co existence of Hindu and Jain caves indicates religious tolerance during that time.

Bhootnatha temple

After visiting the caves, we visited Bhootnatha temple which is situated on the opposite bank of Agatsya lake from the caves. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu deity Bhootnatha which is another name for Lord Shiva. The best time to visit Bhootnatha temple is in the morning and evening and enjoy this serene place beauty in solitude. On the bank of lake one can see the local villagers washing clothes.


The experience of visiting the Badami , Pattadkal and Aihole and reliving the Challukya era cannot be expressed in words and can be experience only by visiting this amazing place.

After our Badami trip we started for our next destination Goa. More about Goa trip in my next post.


2 responses to “Badami – Aihole – Pattadakal- A tale of Chalukya era architechture

  1. Pingback: Hampi – story carved in the stones | My travel sojourns·

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