Monday, November 22, 2010

Notes from Northern Karnataka Trip

A three day weekend ... Two guys, who share many passions- travel, cinema, literature, history - the list of our common interest is endless. We thought of a couple of options. It was one of my long time wish to see Golgumbaz in Bijapur. A couple of years back, during a chat session with an elder person from Kerala, he told me that Golgumbaz is something that every engineer should visit and Karnataka is a place with a glorious past. A visit to Hampi a few weeks back aroused a curiosity to see more ancient architectures. The lonely planet guide was giving a magnificent picture about Badami and we decided to explore Badami and the surrounding places.

On last friday we started our trip from Bangalore in Golgumbaz express from Yeshwanthpur to Badami. The train started from Yeswanthpur station at 8.15 PM.

The first day went with out much interesting events. We slept early and When we woke up in the morning our train was going through the vast and wide fields of Jowar and sugar cane. There were no houses to see and except a few farmers working in their fields there were nobody around.

Our train reached Badami around 9.00 AM. Badami is a small less crowded station about 5 KM far from the town. A group of monkeys were running around like they were receiving visitors. A couple of rickshaws were waiting us and it was an interesting sight to see foreigners going in rickshaws with 10-12 people. We also got into a sharing rickshaw with another 8-10 people most of them were villagers who were going to Badami town.

Badami is part of Bhagalkot district in Northern Karnataka and it is a small town resembling more of a village than town. There are a couple of lodges around the bus stand the rate for a non a/c average double room was about 500-700 per day. We started exploring Badami around 10.00 AM after settling down in a lodge. Our first destination was the famous cave temples in Badami and it required about 10-20 minutes walk from the Badami town.

Badami earler known as Vatapi was the capital of the Chalukya dynasty and the cave temples were built by the Chalukyas around 500 to 800 AD.
The temples were carved out of stone and the first temple was devoted to Shiva, the second and third was devoted to Vishnu and the fourth one for Jain Thirthankaras. There were only a few tourists and the atmospere was very calm and serene. The temple were made in red sand stone and were full of magnificent sculptures. While walking among the sculptures, we were feeling like we were walking through history and took a few snaps.
There is a large pond surrounding the cave temples and on the other side of the pond is the Boothnath temple. An archeological museums and a structure similar to the ruins of a fort is also there.


After lunch, we boarded a bus to Pattadakal. Pattadakkal is about 20 km far from Badami and there are frequent buses available from Badami.
The road trip was a nice one through the Jowar and sun flower fields and we enjoyed the sceneries in the villages around. Pattadakal is a UNESCO hertiage site with temples bulit by the Chalukyas. The major temples were Virupaksha and Mallikarjuna temples. We also explored a few temples around and took a few snaps.


Aihole is located about 7-8 km from Pattadakal. We went to Aihole in a rickshaw and was riding comfortably. Suddenly more and more people started boarding the rickshaw and we realized we are riding with about 12 people. Some other rickshaws were running with people and animals together and we felt we were more fortunate compared to them. Aihole has several temples, but most of them were ruined and not in very good shape. The major attraction at Aihole is the Durga temple complex and it was well preserved. we explored a bit and took snaps around the few temples. After roaming around for an hour, we took a bus back to Badami.

Back at Badami - At Badami it was drizzling. We found that the bakery near the bus stand is owned by Keralites. They were surprised to see two Keralites and we got a warm welcome.

Second day - We started our trip to Bijapur. Bijapur is about three and half hours journey from Badami. We took a bus to Bhagalkote from Badami as there were no direct buses available. From Bhagalkot we got a bus to Bijapur. From Bijapur bus station we hired an auto to go to Golgumbaz. During our journey we made a deal with the auto driver and he agreed to take us to the important places in the town. Bijapur is a small town, but bigger compared to Badami. The roads in the town are in bad shape and drive in an auto is not a very pleasant experience. The auto driver took us to about 10 historic places that includes the ruins of the fort, citadel, Ibrahim Rouza, Golgumbaz and the Juma masjid.

Ibrahim Rouza is a beautiful monument built by the Bijapur sulthan in memory of his wife. Golgumbaz the most famous monument in Bijapur is a mammoth building and also an architectural marvel. Its huge tomb is the second largest in the world next only to Rome. You need to climb a few steps to reach the top. It has a whispering gallery where if you say something on one side of the wall it can be heard on the other side of the monument very clearly.But too many people and noise prevented us from testing it.

After the Golgumbaz visit, we had our lunch and we decided to board the train back to Bangalore. It was drizzling while we were going to the station.

Return jouney - Bijapur railway station was too crowded and there are not much facilities available for the passengers. The train started from Bijapur around 5.45 PM. We were getting bored till an old man boarded our compartment from Bhagalkot. He was going to Bangalore with a few family members.
After the initial hesitation we were at ease with each other he turned out to be an interesting companion. He is a pan shop owner in a small village, but he had gone to college and studied up to graduation. He told about his college days and said for the last 30-40 years all his batch mates in college are meeting a day in every year. Sudden thought that came to my mind was the possibility of organizing my batch mates every year similar to that.

He also said about the days when he used to act in Marathi dramas and won prizes. Me and Gireesh became very interested after listening to this and we had a very interesting conversations about drama as both of us had some background related to drama. It was a practise in his younger days to have a drama troupe in each village and there was a competition for drama. His father and grand father also acted in some of the dramas and they also trained him to continue that practice.The old man was telling that drama is very well advanced these days and Marathi drama has gone a long way from his days. The recent drama he has seen was thank you Mr Glad. I shared my experience of watching a Marathi film Harishchandrachi Factory recently that was directed by a well known theater person Paresh Mokashi.

The train reached back at around 10 AM in Yeswanthpur. We said good bye to our fellow passengers and started our journey towards our own homes.

Looking back it was a very special one. The people we met, the places we visited, the new experiences that we had were distinctive. While the glory of the past made us proud the depressing present left us sad (the villages and small towns were very dirty and unclean)

Tips for Travelers

How to reach Badami - Take Golbumbas express form Yeswanthpur railway station that goes to Bijapur and get down at Badami. You can also get KSRTC and private buses from Bangalore to Bhagalkot and Bijapur.

Places to see - Cave temples at Badami, ancient monuments at Pattadakkal, Aihol and Bijapur. In Bijapur don't miss Ibrahim Rouza and Golgumbaz

Places to stay - Badami is a small town and only a few lodges are available. Bijapur is a big town and you may be able to find many places to stay.

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