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Set in beautiful countryside amongst red sandstone hills, rock-hewn tanks (artificial lakes) and peaceful farmlands, the small rural village of Badami was once a capital city of the Chalukyan Empire which ruled much of the central Deccan between the 4th and 8th centuries AD. Here, and at nearby Aihole and Pattadakal, you can see some of the earliest and finest examples of Dravidian temples and rock-cut caves. The forms and sculptural work at these sites provided inspiration for the later Hindu empires which rose and fell in the southern part of the peninsula before the arrival of the Muslims.
Though principally promoters of the Vedic culture, the Chalukyans were tolerant of all sects, and elements of Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Jainism and even Buddhism can be found in many of their temples.

Badami was the capital from about 540 until 757 AD when the Chalukyans were overthrown by the Rashtrakutas. It is magnificently settled in a canyon, and all over the sides and tops of the surrounding hills are temples, fortifications, carvings and inscription dating not just from the Chalukyan period but from other times when the site was occupied as a fortress. After it fell to the Rashtrakutas, Badami was occupied successively by the Chalukyans of Kalyan (a separate branch of the Western Chalukyans), the Kalachuryas, the Yadavas of Devagiri, the Vijayanagar Empire, the Adil Shahi kings of Bijapur and the Marathas.
 All these various rulers have left their mark at Badami, and there’s even a Pallava inscription dating back to 642 AD when their king, Narasimha Varman I, briefly over-whelmed the Chalukyans and occupied Badami for 13 years before being drivers out again.

Things to See

The town is best known for its cave temples, cut into the cliff face of the red sandstone hill and connected by flights of steps. They display the full range of religious sects which have grown up on Indian soil. Two of them are dedicated to Vishnu, one to Siva and the fourth is a Jain temple. There’s also one natural cave which is a Buddhist temple.
Between the second and third cave is a stone staircase leading up to the south fort. You can climb up here, climb being the operative word as the steps must have been cut by someone with a grudge against anyone less than three metres tall. The cave overlook the picturesque Agastyatirtha (a tank constructed in the 5th to be seen at Badami. Of the other monuments, some of the most beautiful are the two groups of lakeside temples (known as the Bhutanatha Temple), near the north fort. The Archaeological Museum nearby is also well worth a visit. It houses superb example of sculpture collected locally, as well as the remarkable Lajja- Gauri images of a fertility cult which flourished in the area.  
Badami is a small town and, off the main street, it’s full of narrow, winding lanes, old houses, the occasional Chalukyan ruin and tiny squares. It’s pleasant place and people are friendly.

 This village, 43 km from Badami, was the Chalukyan regional capital between the 4th and 6th centuries. Here you can see Hindu temple architecture in its embryonic stage, from the earliest Ladkhan Temple to the later and more complex structures like the Kunligudi and Durgigudi temples.  The Durgigudi is particularly interesting, and probably unique in India, being circular in shape and surmounted by a primitive gopuram.
There are over 70 structures in and around this serene village which are monuments to the vigorous experimentation in temple architecture undertaken by the Chalukyans. Most are in a good state of preservation.

Pattadakal: This village, 16 km from Badami, was not only the second capital of the Badami Chalukyans, but the place where all coronations took place. It reached the height of its glory during the 7th and 8th centuries, when most of the temples here were built.
The most important monuments here, the Lokeshwara or Virupaksha Temple, is a huge structure with sculptures that narrate episodes from the Hindu epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata, as well as throw light on the social life of the early Chalukyans. The other main temple, Malllikarjuna, has sculptures which tell a different story – this time from the Bhagavad Gita, the story of Krishna. The old Jain
Temple with its two stone elephants, about a km form the centre, is also worth visiting.

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