Ironically, an almond is called Badami in Kannada, a native language in Karnataka state where Badami is located. Just as Badami (the almond) is a delicacy for our tongue, Badami (the place) is a delicacy to our eyes! Badami is located in the Bagalkot district in northern Karnataka. It’s about three hour by road from the famous UNESCO Heritage site, Hampi. Pattadakal, another UNESCO Heritage site, is just about 30 minutes away. Aihole is another historic site Aihole is about 40 minutes away.
Though it’s common among tourists to visit Badami-Aihole-Pattadakal all in one day, I hope after reading this article, you’ll consider otherwise. While Badami is a small town with plenty of attractions, the most unique and awe-inspiring of all are the rock-cut cave temples.
There are four red sandstone caves with a temple in each one with carvings that are said to be the finest examples of Chalukya architecture. While the first three of these caves are dedicated to Hinduism, the final one at the top is dedicated to Jainism and has some brilliant carvings too.
All four caves are accessible through easy-to-climb and beautifully carved steps. One of the best experiences that you can get while enjoying these incredible architectural marvels is the mesmerising bird’s eye view of Agastya Lake and Badami town. The best time to visit and enjoy the breathtaking views of these caves is in the early morning. The soft early morning light brings forth the beauty and elegance to these sandstones that will simply be lost during the harsh daylight.
Another plus point, maybe the most important one, of reaching there early in the morning by 6:30 or so is that there’ll be hardly any tourists, if at all. That’ll give you an opportunity to savour these incredible monuments in peach in this otherwise crowded tourist place. This is also the time to fully appreciate the breathtaking beauty of these nature-carved red sandstones as they look their best during the early morning and the early evening hours.
Other attractions in Badami include the serene and beautiful Agastya lake, Bhutanatha group of temples, lower and upper Shivalaya, and the Archeological Museum. You’ll need just a day to cover all these places. You can even cover Badami-Pattadakal-Aihole in one day, which is quite common among tourists. However, you’d miss out on the beauty of this place during the early morning and early evening hours. And if you want to climb up another rock mountain to see lower and upper Shivalaya, which I think is a must, then spending the whole day in Badami would be a great idea. You’ll not be disappointed for sure.
The best time to visit this place is during the winter (November to March) as the temperatures will be bearable. Though, it’s worth a visit any time during the year except monsoons maybe, as long as you visit in the early morning or evening hours. We went there bang in the middle of summer and we had no problem. It’ll take about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to cover all the caves even if you have a kid as we do. And the climb up and down isn’t that tiring during these hours. In fact, they are more enjoyable. Our daughter, who’ll turn six soon, had a great time climbing up and down though she had never climbed anything like this before. However, it’s advised to carry water as it’s important to keep yourself hydrated.
Beware of monkeys though, as it’s the case with any tourist place in India. They are naughty and daring too. They’ll just grab whatever it is that you are holding, except maybe the water bottle unless they are thirsty. The nearest airport is Hubballi which is 105 kilometers away. It’s about 141 kilometers from Hampi and 465 kilometers from Bangalore and the roads are excellent all through.
No matter how much a photographer tries to capture the immense beauty of these wonders of nature, he’ll fall short of showing that visceral experience that you get when you are there personally. So, try to plan for this delicacy for your eyes as soon as you can. Have fun!