Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal

A trip to heritage towns of Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal

Badami, (and the surrounding Aihole and Pattadkal,) are well-known for the historic Chalukya dynasty rule between 6th and 10th century. The places have almost equal doses of history and mythology behind them. Boasting of several UNESCO world heritage sites, Badami is famous for its rock-cut temples made right out of huge monolithic red sandstone boulders. This and several other historic remains that were left behind during the Chalukyas rule, beckons all avid travelers towards Badami. When Darter announced a travel photography workshop at this destination, I had no hesitation in signing up immediately. The idea of traveling with a group of like-minded individuals, focused on photography is a novel one. And add to that, a chance to meet and interact with people from potentially diverse backgrounds is intellectually stimulating. Having traveled and enjoyed a similar travel photography workshop at Hampi with Darter’s Arun Bhat last year, with his experience in travel and photography, one could be sure that this would be a fruitful travel opportunity photography-wise and one is sure to be at the right place at the right time to create good photographs.

The tour started with us checking-in to the Heritage Resort on Jul 5. We had a leisurely session on photography and some basic guidelines on making good images from Arun. More than concentrating on the technicalities of the image-making, emphasis was given to the creative part of the process. Armed with some new-found knowledge, we headed out to put them to effective use – at Aihole.

Aihole was the first capital of the Chalukyas. They built several temples here and have experimented with various styles ofย  temple-building. The experience gained from building temples here would help them build the grand temples that now adorn Pattadakal. Here are a few images from Aihole.

Temple complex at Aihole

Temple complex at Aihole

Curved, pillared outer corridor at the Durga temple, Aihole

Curved, pillared outer corridor at the Durga temple, Aihole

After finishing up at the temple complex, we stopped at a nearby village and tried to capture the scenes from a typical village life. I don’t have images ready yet – perhaps I’ll post them separately, recording my attempt at capturing people and their lives in a village. We reached our hotel around 8pm, had a modest dinner and retired for the day.

We had an early start to the next day. We departed from the hotel at 7:15AM and headed to the rock-cut (cave) temples site in Badami. Reaching there early ensured that the lighting was ideal and place was not already teeming with throngs of tourists. Badami has 4 red-sandstone cave temples. The first one dedicated to Shiva, the next two to Vishnu and the last one to Jain Teerthankara, Mahaveera. Here are a few images of the cave temples.

First cave temple dedicated to Shiva

First cave temple dedicated to Shiva

 

The largest of the cave temples

The largest of the cave temples

Elaborate carvings inside the cave temples

Elaborate carvings inside the cave temples

We headed back as the crowd started getting denser, had breakfast and a small nap. Thereafter, Arun started to prepare us for the upcoming visit to the old town area in the afternoon. Being a small community, nestled right beside the cave temple complex and the archeological museum, with narrow by-lanes, the people of Badami is what we’d set out to chat with and capture them to document their lives and practices. For the record, I’m not much of a people photographer and had seldom attempted my hand at this genre before this. At the end of spending close to two hours roaming around the narrow lanes of Badami, irrespective of the fact that I did not shoot many pictures and none of the ones I shot were any good… trying something I had never tried before, walking up to strangers, finding them to be so friendly to my total surprise and most of all, re-learning to play the age-old board game of “chowka-baara” sitting among homemakers and their children – was PRICELESS. Mental note to self – do attempt capturing people in their various moods and surroundings more often, its worth a shot!

Women engrossed in a game of "chowka-baara"

Women engrossed in a game of “chowka-baara”

Later that evening, we spent time by the Agastya tank and Bhootanatha temple. We missed the spectacular water fall in the backdrop of the Bhootanatha temple due to lack of rainfall. We hung around this area till late evening and headed back to the hotel once darkness began taking over.

Fisherman at Agastya tank

Fisherman at Agastya tank

Bhootanatha temple

Bhootanatha temple

Mahakoota was the place on cards for the next day. We made a slight change of plans to walk our way to Mahakoota and visit a natural sandstone bridge formation at Sodlaphadi (~10KM) instead of taking a vehicle directly to Mahakoota (~15KM). We started walking at 6:30AM and we’d reach Mahakoota only by noon. En route, we encountered interesting views, sweeping landscapes among sparse shrub forests and of course, the curious natural formed rock bridge at Sidlaphadi. The name itself points to the couple of gaping holes in the middle of the bridge, said to have been made by lightning strikes.

Leaves and lotus in a small water puddle

Leaves and lotus in a small water puddle

Under the rock bridge, Sidlaphadi

Under the rock bridge, Sidlaphadi

After the 5 hour walk, I was ready to jump into the fresh water tank at Mahakoota. Though, I ended up just freshening up a bit and continued to envy the boys having a joyous time.

Boys having a splash in the tenk in Mahakoota temple premises

Boys having a splash in the tank in Mahakoota temple premises

Right about this time, it started pouring and continued so for a brief while. We were pretty beat and also had very little time to spend at Pattadakal, before we caught our trains back to the city.

 

An impromptu stop at a sunflower field

An impromptu stop at a sunflower field

Temple complex at Pattadakal

Temple complex at Pattadakal

As I was heading back to the city, one thing that I remember thinking about. Being in Bangalore from a long time, we know what the city is like during various times of the year, what’s good in what season, etc. Every season brings out a different view of the city and we’ve witnessed it. The same is true for any other place as well. Any avid traveler/photographer should have the curiosity and tenacity to go back to the places traveled again and experience what it has to offer at different times of a year. With this thought, I recede into a deep slumber.

Right, until next time then… ๐Ÿ™‚

14 Comments

  1. Nandita

    Hello..

    All the photos are really beautiful..thanks for sharing with us.
    Thanks
    NANDITA

  2. Srinivas, nice blog, nice website, nice article with lovely photos.
    it was a nice time with you folks over there . that rock bridge photo is my fav of all these nice photos

    rgds

    • Photomithra(Srinivasa S)

      Thanks for the kind words, Dinesh ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Manu

    Outstanding photos Srini! Looks like a great trip. Keep clicking! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Photomithra(Srinivasa S)

      Thanks Manu – it indeed was a nice trip!

  4. divya

    thanks for sharing the photos. all the best for future adventures. good work. seeing your photos and description, i dnt think v shld go and c the place. felt very good reading this article.

    • Photomithra(Srinivasa S)

      Thanks Divya – that’s really flattering ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Guruprasad Kathavate

    wonderful photo essay
    -Guru

  6. sumaa

    Very well documented, srinivas. Reading this took me right back to badami. Awesome photos, too. Good stuff.

  7. Balamurali Krishna

    Amazing snaps,Srinivas! Looks like you had a good trip. Good work on capuring all the beautiful views. The rock bridge is my fav pic of all. Good to know about the existence of such natural wonders in our ancient temple towns. The compilation of the whole album is aesthetically done by you and very nice to read up and get to know many facts. Keep up the good work! Happy clicking for the future endeavours:-)

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