Aihole, Pattadakkal, Badami, Hampi

Dairy Entry

The sight of the Gol Gumbaz welcomed us into Bijapur at around 10 in the morning. The climate was strangely pleasant and cool for that time of the day. Without wasting a minute, we proceeded to the bus station and boarded a bus to bagalkot, and from there one more to Ameengarh. It was past noon when we arrived at Ameengarh and the place seemed too small for us to have any hopes of finding good food. And yet positive were we and walked a few hundred metres to discover some reasonably good and extremely cheap upma and uttappam at a small and crowded udupi hotel housed in a dark shack.

 
After a sumptuous brunch we started towards our first destination - Aihole, in an auto rickshaw. This place is said to have housed 125 temples that were built by the chalukyas to experiment on rock cut architecture before they built the temples at Pattadakal. The first thing that caught our sight in Aihole was a young lady, clad in thick layers of 'make-up' repeating the same 'sway twice to the left, sway twice to the right' dance step for a droning kannada song. A film shooting had taken up most of the space in the main temple and village kids staring at it had taken up the rest (see photo). We managed to scrape through the crowd and click a few photographs of the sculptures of gods and goddesses. Outside the temple were a row of local women, selling a fresh harvest of grapes and chikoos, which we feasted on. 

From there our next destination was Pattadakal . A tiny village it was, on the banks of the Malaprabha river. The temples here were bigger, better and more in shape in comparison to Aihole. The surrounding too was peaceful enough for us to enjoy it to the fullest. Before sunset, we had to reach Badami and chose to travel by a mini van (which took us the distance at Rs.10 per seat to compete with the government bus that charged 30 :)). Badami hardly has 4-5 lodges, which can charge you anything between thrice or four times the normal rate and yet not provide the barest of facilities. We didn't quiet have many options, considering it was already night when we reached there. 

We woke up to a fresh day and started towards the Badami caves. Badami, once the chalukyan capital 'vatapi', was a rather small and dirty town, flourishing mostly on the tourist crowd. The sculptures in the four caves, the prime attraction of this place, were intricate and exquisite. The ones clearly etched in my mind are the dancing Shiva with 18 hands, Narasimha striking a stylish pose and a cozily seated Mahavishnu (see photo). And then there was also the Bhutanath temple, perched over a scenic lake, guarded by mountains in all other directions. We rented a pedal boat to cross the lake and reach the temple - quite a tiring ride it was. Almost like a strange coincidence, this temple too was 'possessed' by the film camera.

Our next destination was Hampi, which was not that well connected with Badami. After an hour's wait we boarded a bus to Ilkal (~90 KM). Hungry and desperate, we had our lunch at what was presumably the only restaurant in the town. From there we got a direct bus to Hospet, the town nearest to Hampi. It was around evening when we reached Hospet and we immediately got a bus to take us to Hampi (~10 KM). Hampi unlike Badami is an ideal place to lodge. We found a reasonable guest house just besides the main temple. What was extremely strange about this place was the huge number of foreign tourists and a virtual absence of any indian tourist. Well, I could give myself a few explanations like the hot and humid weather, very poor connectivity with any city. However, all that can’t overshadow the idyllic grace of the fluorescent paddy fields and banana groves.

We hired the most ideal mode of transport the next morning- a bicycle. It was such a pleasure speeding through the roads, with fertile farm lands on both sides and the sound of gushing water in the background. The first one we met on the way was a huge mutilated Narasimha, seated on a platform amidst dense banana groves. We proceeded to see a few more places starting with the underground temple, filled with stagnant squalid water , the hazarirama temple, which was quite a piece of art and then the remnants of the Hampi city. We walked past market streets, public baths (See photo), raised platforms for social events and festivities (Known as Mahanavami dibba), etc.

The sun had ascended high, when we reached the town of Kamalapura. The best relief came in the form of a tungabhadra canal, with cool and pristine water. We sighed as we dipped our tired legs into it – felt like sheer indulgence. We had sumptuous lunch at a restaurant owned by Tourism development corporation in kamalapura and also visited the deserted, yet neatly maintained Pattabhirama temple in the town. (It is to be noted that no temple in and around Hampi have any deities in the sanctum, as they have been robbed or mutilated by muslim invaders). From there we cycled on towards the Vithala temple in the scorching heat. After a whole day dedicated to dilapidated stone structures, we returned at night to cherish a few calm moments at the main temple and have a good night’s sleep.

Itinerary

Day 1

Late night: Train from Pune to Sholapur

Day 2

Early morning : Train from Sholapur to Bijapur,  Bus from Bijapur to Bagalkot (1.25 Hr, 50 KM), Bus from Bagalkot to Ameengarh (1 hr, 35 KM), Auto rickshaw to Aihole (20 min, 9 KM).

Noon: Aihole sight seeing , Bus to Pattdakkal (20 min, 10 KM), Pattadakkal sight seeing, Mini van to Badami (1.5 Hrs, 29 KM), Lodged at Badami.

Day 3

Visited Badami caves and temples, Bus to Ilkal (1.5 Hrs, 45 KM), Bus to Hospet (2 hrs, 50 KM), Bus to Hampi (45 min, 10 KM). Lodged at Hampi.

Day 4

Hampi sight seeing on rented cylces (Rs 30 per day). Cyled over 25 KM and returned to rest in the eveing.

Day 5

Bus to Bijapur (5 Hrs, 220 KM), Visit Gol gumbaz, Train to Sholapur, Train to pune, reached late night.

Tips:

Avoid stay at Badami, very few lodges in poor condition and exorbitant charges. Prefer staying in Bijapur/Hospet/Hampi.

Hampi has many budget accomodations. Food is a sort of a problem though. Mostly visited by foreign tourists, the place is filled with hotels and bars serving pseduo continetal cuisine. We survived on tender coconut, bananas (both straight from grove), idli and dosa in a roadside stall. The Govt. hotel in Kamalapura is decent , but 5 KM away from main city and mostly remains closed in the nights.

 

Album

Mahishasura Mardhini (Aihole)

Temples at Pattadakkal

Aerial View (Badami)

 Virupaksha temple (Hampi)

The Tungabhadra river (Hampi)

Narasimha at Hampi