Thursday, January 18, 2007

Day 4 : Badami

To know a place,

" The best way is to breathe it.
The next best way is to walk it!" - And so we did the entire day

Badami is famous for its cave temples all hewn out of sand stone on the precipice of a hill. Badami also has eighteen inscriptions ranging from the sixth to the sixteenth century.

We could see lots of Backpackers around - we were nearing the cave temples. And the gigantic caves just emerged, turning us awestruck!

Rock-cut cave temples, gateways, forts, inscriptions, sculptures that seem to come alive under your eyes… Badami has to be seen to be believed. These date back to 543 AD. Climb a flight of steps to reach the ancient caves. The capital of the Early Chalukyas, Badami (also known as Vatapi), is picturesquely situated at the mouth of a Ravine between two rocky hills.

There are four caves here. The 1st one dedicated to Shiva, 2nd and 3rd to Vishnu and 4th to Jain. The first three belonging to the Vedic faith and the fourth to the Jainism.

# Enter the first cave temple past Shiva's door keepers and there he is !

Nataraja : The first cave temple; one can see the eighteen-armed Nataraja striking 81 styles of Barathanaya. We get see a smiling Lord Shiva accompanied by Lord Ganesha and Karthikeya with musical instruments. Master Piece!!

# Vishnu : The second cave temple, dedicated to Vishnu. Spotted some carvings of Narasimha, Narayana, Shesha and others. Built by Pulakeshi I - we get to see carvings of Ardhanarishwara, Varaha and Mahishasuramardhini.

# The largest and most ornamental is the third cave temple dedicated to Vishnu. The Sheshasai Vishnu is a 15 ft carving. The style is described to be a model of coronation festival of Chalukyas. Here are some splendid carvings of the Hindu Pantheon. Narasimha the half-man half Lion avatar of Vishnu Hari Hara, the composite god who is half-Shiva and half-Vishnu. Vishnu Narayana sitting as well as reclining on the snake Shesh or Ananta (Eternity )… There are also some painting on the ceiling and wonderful bracket figures on the piers.

# A little to the east of this shrine, on top of a cliff is a Jain temple. Here you will find many Jain deities and a huge figure of Parshwanatha. This Buthanatha temple, lends its name to the lake beneath.

Overlooking the cave temples is a reservoir dotted with temples dedicated to Vishnu and Shiva. At the foot of the caves and on the way to the lake, is the Archaeological Museum.

After the fall of Chalunkyan empire, Badami was occupied by Rashtrakutas, Vijaynagar rule and finally by Tippu Sultan. The fort wall and watch towers built during Tippu Sultan can be seen to this day, entry into which is prohibited.

Since its carved out of red stone, it was most colorful and photographically mory gratifying. The colour and grandeur of the sand stone carvings lasts undisturbed in mind forever. The 'day' dawn till dusk would remain etched for ever.

The caves are a surreal experience!

One of the wisest things we had done in the recent past. Scenic refuge from urban chaos, it really was....

From childhood had a very whimsical fancy for getting myself photographed in a Sunflower garden. I did, and to my dismay, it turned into a source for all malice. :-)

As the day came to an end. We headed towards Hospet.

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