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2023 - The Year That Was

Places impact you for a variety of reasons. And the same place impacts different people in different ways. This is especially true when it comes to spiritual experiences, where every single person’s experience is unique. And personally, every spiritual experience is unique, the same person can have different deeply spiritual experiences at different places, at different times. This thought has emerged because of my own experiences over the years, but especially so this year, with different and unique experiences at various places I have visited recently. I began this year with a visit to Baroda (Vadodara) with friends. It was meant to be a relaxed trip, a touristy trip, with our sons. We enjoyed ourselves to the hilt, but the highlight of that trip was a visit to the Lakulisha temple at Pavagadh. It was the iconography of the temple that I connected with, and I spent a few hours simply lost in the details of the figures carved around the temple. There was an indefinable connect with

Badami Fort

Huge red sandstone cliffs are all we can see as we drive into Badami. Soon, the lake comes into view, and the two sets of cliffs which attract thousands of visitors to this small town become clearer. Opposite us we can see the famed caves filled with tourists who stand out against the red rocks in their multi-coloured clothing. On the other side, we see a board announcing the presence of the ASI museum, and over it, an arch which appears to be the entrance of a fort. Our driver discourages us from entering. “Madam, there is nothing to see there… just two old and broken temples, and the climb is strenuous. Everything here was destroyed by the Pallava kings. No one goes there. It will be deserted.  Let us go and see the caves instead.” However, the cliffs are too inviting to miss and a sudden desire to climb and see the ruins of the old temples strikes me. Besides, every place we visited has been crowded, and the caves seem to be full too. The strain of climbing seems to be too slight a price to pay for the pleasure of solitude amidst such surrounds. And thus we set out to climb the cliffs of Badami towards the Badami Fort. Come along with me and you can experience it for yourself………….

Entrance to the fort

A bit of history as we enter the fort – It was the Chalukya king Pulakesi I who made Badami, then known as Vatapi, his capital in the year 543AD. His descendents came to be known as the Badami Chalukyas. They expanded the kingdom, bringing most of the Deccan under their rule. During the reign of Pulakesi II, the kingdom extended from the banks of the Narmada in the northwestern part of India, all the way to the banks of the Kaveri, bordering the Pallava kingdom. The history of the Pallavas and Chalukyas is intertwined with constant wars, victory and defeat. Each dynasty left behind the marks of its invasions, and each dynasty gained and lost treasures. The golden period of Badami ended in 642 AD when the Pallava king Narasimhavarman attacked and occupied the city. It was only after 13 years of occupation that Badami was liberated again by the Chalukya king Vikramaditya I.

The huge rocky cliffs seem protection enough, but walls have been added here and there!

Clarification: I am not an expert on history, archaeology, or architecture. For me, the most interesting thing about a place is the story – be it history, legend or myth. I was drawn to the fort by the stories I had heard of it. As a child, I remember my mother telling me the story of Sivagamiyin Sapatham, where the story is set against the backdrop of the war between the Pallavas and Chalukyas. Pulakesi there (I think it must have been Pulakesi II) was the villain, the one who repeatedly attacked Kancheepuram and forced the Pallavas to retaliate. At Badami, I heard stories of the greatness of Pulakesi – how he united the entire Deccan region, his achievements in temple building, his greatness….. And finally, how Narasimhavarman destroyed every inch of Badami! This difference is point of view is what interested me most, and what I have carried back with me. As you come along with me on my tour of the Badami fort, try to look through my eyes and try to see what must have been a great city once, before war and hatred put an end to it all. Try to imagine what could have been possible if only humans hadn’t felt the need to fight!

Part of this gate has been blocked now

Its impossible not to feel small and humble amidst these towering rocks
which have stood here since time immemorial!

The fort on the opposite side....
It is believed to be Tipu's treasury... but we were too tired to climb up there!

A cannon - a reminder that the fort was used in more recent times!

The city... as seen from the top

One of the temples... if you look close, you can see that the windows all have different designs on them! Imagine the care which must have been taken to build this, at this height!

One of my favourites - this watch tower looks like it will fall off! But it has stood for all these years!

I like to pose! doesn't matter if the backdrop makes me look tiny!


What a wealth of detail on stone!

The sheer drop makes it clear how dangerous this place is!
Interestingly, somewhere here is a secret tunnel which was once used by the royal family.
Our guide even told us that this tunnel was recently used for a film shooting!!
Wonder if that was true!

That brings us to the end of this tour...... Did you notice that only Shankar and Samhith figure in the photos? Well, thats because our driver was right - there was no one there!! We met just one more group of students climbing up as a group, and that too at the top. They seemed surprised to see us, and quietened down while we were there, so we did get what we were looking for - peace and solitude, and communion with history!

Badami Factfile
  • Location: Badami is located in Karnataka, 30 Kms from Bagalkot and 589 Km from Bangalore
  • Nearest Airport: Belgaum, 190 Km
  • Nearest Railway station: Hubli, 100 Km
  • Accomodation: There are plenty of options for staying in Badami, but most of them are lodges and low to medium end hotels. The best is certainly the Karnataka Tourism hotel Maurya Chalukya
  • Around Badami:    
    • Bijapur – 125 Km
    • Aihole – 46 Km
    • Pattadakkal – 29 Km
    • Hospet – 190 Km


  1. Such a grand fort and no one around! Amazing.

  2. Its just that the caves are the more popular attraction here.... so no one bothers to come here....Arun had some wonderful pics of this place too!

  3. You made the right decision not to heed to the advice of the driver..Awesome place, it looks to be..! Very well covered too..! 
    I will make a trip one day and your posts are going to be handy for me then.. Till then I love seeing pictures like these..!

  4. Thanks Sridharan! its a lovely place! and deserves more than the one day we spent there..... when u go, make sure u keep one day for each place! and i would love to help u plan!

  5. Just awesome , every details perfectly captured .

  6. Wow, what an amazing place. I hope I get a chance to visit it once.

  7. Even before I read your last para, I was about to say... only Shankar & Samhith? Was Anu concentrating only on them ? :)

    Didn't know it was so big. 
    Yes, I've seen pictures of Arun and I so want to go there. 

  8. Really a wonderful post. Communion with history is so blissful. Archaeologists and Historians have a conditioned frame of mind where as people like you have no inhibitions and could enjoy such places holistically. However I am yet to visit this place. The photographs are fine.

  9. Yes, Pradeepa! Its an amazing place! you def should go and I would love to see how it appears through your lens!

  10. ha ha! I usually try to avoid taking pics with ppl, and its usually so difficult to do that! and finally i found myself in a place where there was no one to interfere, and I found these two in every frame!

  11. Nice article. I have been planning a visit to this place for long.

  12. This part of  Badami is the best many a tour operators will never take you there because minimum 90 to 120 minutes is involved

  13. Thanks! you should definitely go! its a beautiful place!

  14. Yes, Umesh.... tour operators never include such places, which is why it was empty.... and also which is why i hate going on organised tours.... though since we took a car for a days trip to aihole pattadakkal, mahakuta, banashankari and badami, it was almost like a tour since we had to trust the driver.... thankfully, we had left badami for last, and were staying there overnight, so we could spend some more time there, even though the driver wasnt too keen!

  15. Thanks, enjoyed reading it. The rocks and the fort walls together look great.

    The only thing I missed in this post was some info on which part of India is it? Since you are talking of Pallavas and Tipu, I think it is Karnataka, but is it near enough from Bangalore for a day trip?

  16. Wonderful shots of the fort. As a kid I had been to Badami. Did not go up to see the fort. I think now the time has come to see this in person.

  17. Nice post. Great pictures. There were menacing monkeys all around the steps up the fort and there was a lot of wild growth too. With no one around it was scary to proceed. I did it anyway. Hope it is not that bad now.

  18. HI Sunil, thanks a lot! sorry! didnt realise I hadnt given the location details.. have rectified it now!

  19. Thanks Summi! well, when we went, there were no monkeys at the fort, only at the caves, probably because there are more ppl coming there... as to the overgrowth, the paths were clear, and it was quite clean, which was quite a surprise to me...

  20. Hi Anu, I'm jealous that you were actually able to climb up to the Fort. When I visited the Fort a year back, access was denied as just 2 weeks back someone had attempted to commit suicide there.

  21. Anu,

    Photograph taken are really great. your small history provides great prospective about the place.

  22. Beautifully covered. I now regret not seeing it on our visit.

  23. Nice pictures. This blog inspired me to head to Badami for the weekend.


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