After the beaches and oceans, we took turn to check out the ancient temples and rock caves in a completely different landscape of Karnataka. Everybody knows about Hampi, but while googling, names of Badami & Patttadkal also came up. I remembered their strong mentions in our history school books, so decided to read more about them. They looked interesting. So there we went.
Route and Rideability – 4.5 / 5
From Goa, we followed the route Goa – Karwar – Dandeli – Hubli – Nargund – Badami. We started from late from Goa, around 4, did a small detour to Karvar (which paid off well. the entry to that city is grand) and halted at Dandeli for a night.
The road to Dandeli is through a wildlife life sanctuary, with occasional signs of Elephants / Leopards crossing zone (WTF?!). It’s a highly enjoyable hilly stretch of about 50km through the thickest forest I have been, with very few villages on the way.
Next day we started for Hubali (not many people know about Badami, so its better to ask about bigger cities on the way). The road was good but had nothing special to offer. From Hubali, people guided us to Nargund via a lesser obvious route which turned out gold for us. There were cotton fields to wherever sight went and absolutely nobody on the road.
This stretch went on for 25-30 km till we saw the famous rock of Nargund.
From Nargund, we caught the National Highway for next 15 km and the last turn for Badami.
The next 20km were dreadful. Pathetic narrow road with good amount of traffic, mostly state roadways buses.
Scenic Factor – 4/5
Of all the attractions in Badami, we liked the Bhoothanath temple and the hilltop fort in its complex the best. Generally, these do not attract many tourists as the main attraction is the World Heritage site of Badami Caves (which, to be honest, are not very interesting apart from the hardwork put into them).
The best time to check Bhoothnath temple is either sunrise or sunset. The cliff, pond, and the light create magic there.
The room at Badami was the costliest in our entire trip (i.e. 700 per night). There were lesser expensive rooms available but at that time we had traces of luxury in ourselves so we went ahead for this one.
Camping is a strict no no here. The place is teeming with monkeys, and will take you along with your tent to their place at their will.
Good food is easily available at the roadside hotels and is very cheap (100 – 130 bucks for lunch / dinner / breakfast for 2). The Dosa & Idli Saga began for us here. (which, we didn’t know would continue for the next 2 months).
Things to do – 3 / 5
Explore all the temples and caves.
Some people later told us, there are some lesser known caves that stretch upto 35km inside the hills.
Rock climbing. Badami is a hot spot for rock climbing. Again, don’t ask locals about this, as they won’t have any idea about it. You will have to do your own research beforehand.
Things that can be avoided –
Banashankari Temple – When we were there, the town had an annual festival at this temple. The festival was dreadful. But we managed to enjoy that too, with a little quirkiness that is.
Peace Factor – 4 / 5
As said above, the bhoothnath temple doesn’t attract many visitors and has a good setting to spend time peacefully. Unfortunately, the timings of the hill fort in its complex are after sunrise & before sunset, so that won’t be possible here.
If you are looking a place to spend time peacefully, the main Badami caves is not the place for you.
You can do that on the hills of Aihole.
The Pattadkal, Aihole and Mahakuta group of temples.
All these are within 25km from Badami, on the a single route. Devoting half a day should be more than enough for all of these together.
All three are nothing more than small villages and no accommodation is available there.
The Mahakuta temple has nothing special and can be skipped easily.
The 2 temples in Aihole and 1 in Pattadkal, which look quite similar to each other, are World Heritage sites, and hence have been conserved very nicely.
Of these three places, we liked Aihole the best because the village thrives among the ruins of old temples. There are more than 120 temples in Aihole, and people live in some of the ruins.
Walk through the streets of Aihole and catch the sunset / sunrise from the temple at the hilltop.
We stayed in Badami for 2 days, and covered the group of temples in around half a day.
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Summary of south India bike tour