Day 2 – Badami cave temples and museum
See Badami – Aihole – Pattadakal for the entire travelogue.
Mom was eagerly looking forward to visit the cave temples. We reached by 10:30am. Kalmat, the guide was already waiting for us. There are four cave temples, all carved out of the massive rocks. The cave temples were built during 6th century CE by the Chalukyan kings. The visibility inside the caves is not good despite ample bright sunlight. Kalmat explained a lot of fine details. Mom slowly climbed and explored all four caves. Rasool and Kalmat initially were of the opinion that mom might not be able to climb so many steep steps. She proved them wrong 🙂 and visited all four cave temples. I highly recommend hiring a good guide if you are interested in knowing the details.
I really liked the sculpture of dancing Shiva in front of the cave 1. Shiva in the sculpture has 18 arms; 9 on each side. It is said that each combination of 2 arms (one from each side) is a Bharatanatyam pose and that all of the Bharatanatyam postures are depicted in this sculpture.
Few things about the cave temples really left an impression upon me. There are a lot of sculptures of happy couples; I could not help but wonder if people then were really so happy. I saw sculptures that depicted a drunk woman throwing up and a man managing her; I wondered if people then were more open-minded than people today, with no moral policing and no senseless restrictions on people.
In one of the caves, there were paintings on the wall, Unfortunately, most of them are lost. The paint was made of vegetable and plant dye. A replica of these paintings is displayed in the museum. I had been to Ajantha and Ellora caves as a kid and at Badami, I vaguely remembered seeing such similar paintings there.
Secularism is quite evident; there are sculptures pertaining to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Also, there are sculptures that represent the importance of gender equality.
There are several temples nearby that are built during almost the same time as the cave temples. Depending on your interest, you can visit them. It is sad that some of them are not maintained well. Some temples are among houses and treated like private property. It saddened me to see premises of one temple being used as a gossip adda and place to dry clothes. While the locals seemed to be aware that the temples have significant archeological value, they did not seem to realise the necessity to preserve them.
The museum is good and maintained well. Kalmat explained us a lot of details. It was evening by the time we completed our museum visit. We gave the fee to Kalmat and reached hotel. I frankly felt Kalmat should have been bit more helpful. He did a good job being our guide but he was definitely not very helpful.My mom was 65 when we visited the cave temples. He did not even once offer his help while she was climbing the steep steps. The place is loaded with monkeys and on way back he did not even wait for us to come down and as we were descending on our own, a monkey turned a little aggressive. Luckily a friendly tourist shooed it away. Me and mom had travelled extensively across India. At all the places, guides and drivers have always been very friendly and went out of the way to ensure that we are comfortable. So I just did not feel like giving Kalmat any tip or anything more than we had agreed upon. I was hoping that our next guide Parashuram would turn out to be different. And thankfully, he did!
In the evening after coming back to the hotel room, we called Parashuram and he too said he would give us two entire days and show us around Aihole and Pattadakal.