Aihole and Badami - Schools of the chalukya architects

Aihole and Badami was part of 3 days trip with Arun, Vijay & Rajesh. Our base location was Ilkal. Plan was to stay in Ilkal and travel around, Hampi 107 km from Ilkal and then we covered Aihole, Pattadakal and Badami in one day because of their proximity.

Ilkal -> 34 km -> Aihole -> 10 km -> Pattadakal -> 22 km -> Badami

I have already published blogs for Hampi and Pattadakal. Now its time to write about other two places.

Aihole and Badami, Both the places are well known for its finest temple art built by Chalukya kings during the golden period in 6 to 8th century.. 

Aihole is considered to be the cradle of Chalukya architecture. From what I learned from ASI records, wikipedia, google that the skill of the Chalukyas was evolved in Aihole, developed in Badami, and reached its pinnacle in Pattadakkal. So we can say Aihole must have been the primary school of the Chalukya architects, Badami their secondary school, and Pattadakkal their college! 

Aihole accupies a unique place in the history of temple architecture. It was the experimenting ground for the early chalukyan kings to build structure temple.There are so many temples in this small town.It has a group of 125 monuments spread across the place and served as the training ground for the student of architecture who experimented with different styles.

The Durga Temple is the only temple we visited there, Its big temple complex. Built in a horse-shoe shape, the temple is so called not for the deity, but for the fort around it.Photogenic. All through the temple, there are beautiful carvings. The pillars and ceilings tells us so many stories and its always good to have some guide or prior knowledge of the history, places. 

Next destination was Pattadakal. Unesco world heritage site. 10 KM from Aihole. Great center of Chalukya art and architecture, noted for its temples and inscription. As I mentioned before this must have been collage of Chalukya art and clearly evident from the Virupaksha Temple. It is the largest and grandest of all temples in Pattadakal. Read more

 22 km from Pattadakal and we were at Badami, famous for its rock cut cave temples.There are four mighty cave temples in one location. All the cave temples has open courtyard in front, open verandah, hall with carved pillars

First cave temple which is the oldest of all is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Statues of 18 armed Lord Shiva in dancing pose is the highlight of the first cave.

Climb about 50 steps and you will be at the second cave temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu,

Third cave is also dedicated to Lord Vishnu, biggest of all the cave temples. Carving on every pillars, paintings in ceiling is must watch.Fourth cave is located higher than other three caves and dedicated to Jain  Tirthankara.

From the cave temples there is magnificent view of badami lake and town

After spending 2 hours watching all the four caves. We headed to the museum, located at the foothill of northern hill. This museum can provide you many information about the town, its history, Chalukya Kings, cave temples. Its always amuse me how people from ancient age were able to build huge cave temple complex and carved beautiful statues from hard rock hill. Dont forget the lack of tools at that time, no doubt people were very talented but there must be some hidden secrets or tool which we the modern age are not aware of it.

 100 meters from Museum, there is beautifully situated Bhootnath temple.

In Badami, there are many other temples but we couldn't visit all. I think you should spend at least two days here to visit all the important temples and to get detailed information about all the caves and every carving. We spent around three hours here and really tired after visiting three places in one day (Aihole, Pattadakal and Badami). Badami also has small railway station and there are overnight trains to Bangalore. Monkey are all over at Railway station, platform and waiting room. We felt like intruder there and they made us realize by taking away the water bottles and some of the snacks packets..

Badami was end of three days trip. I would say it was more like revisiting the art and culture of ancient India. If you visit all these places, temples, caves, the lost glory of Hampi, you will be stunned not because these are so beautiful, magnificent but to realize that ancient India was so rich and its matter of proud to be part of this incredible country.


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