Have you ever seen a monument so mesmerizing, that it made you forget any history it has had or future it may have? All you could do is be mesmerized by its beauty. Badami gave me such a monument and an unforgettable experience. And before you read remaining blog, Badami in Sanskrit and Hindi means “of almond color.”
Our last destination was Badami. The only thing I knew about Badami was that it has caves dating back to the 7th-8th century. When we reached the location at 6:30 AM, Rohit (our tour organizer) said that we would see the fort first and then the caves. Honestly, I was disappointed, because I wanted to watch the caves. Maybe because it was the main attraction of Badami (or I thought so). And what felt more disappointing was that those caves were in front of me.
But as we entered the fort, and I saw the color and texture of all the rocks that formed the Badami Fort, I knew I was miserably wrong. I had never seen the name describing a place so well. Maybe the color name was tossed just to describe that place. A monument that was royal in its color as it was in its structure. The specialty of Badami Fort is that the fort is built without cutting any major rocks, making way through rocks, and building the stairs and everything needed by shaping those rocks.
As we had reached the fort base around 6:40 AM and since it was a winter morning, we had our chance of making the trip complete with a sunrise. We picked our spot and after a few seconds someone pointed out that there is a higher ground, from where we could get a better view. So we rushed to that point. We covered almost half a kilometer in 5-7 minutes to reach there. And hence while climbing, I was not able to pay attention to all the wonderful details, but I notice enough things to know that, I might have found the place I would never get tired of visiting.
When the sun was stretching its arms, we finally started to look around us and marveled at the color shades it showed us.
What made it even more special, that we had the fort for ourselves. It was too early in the morning hence no one was there. We watched the marvelous union of sun and Badami color and enjoyed the place with good music and some dancing. I had forgotten that there are any caves to watch and did not want to leave the place.
But eventually we came to the caves and we were looking at the Badami Fort from opposite direction and it was sun-kissed in every manner. I guess this is what people call falling in love over and over again.
Well from the above picture you can guess, the caves and the fort is separated by Agastya lake, named after a Rushi who lived there and it even has a Bhootnath temple by the lake and everything is built in Badami Rock. The caves were good. You can check its history on google. But I liked the fort better.
The last spot for the day was Bhootnath temple. Though India has temples in each and every ally, Bhootnath Temples are rare. Plus the site where it is located made it special. One has to watch the whole site once in a lifetime.
This trip of mine with my two best friends was a search for something unnamed. We all are looking for different things that will set our soul free. And we spend the lifetime searching for the things our soul wants. I think travel makes it a little bit easier for us. It gives new things to try, new people, to meet, new food to eat, and most importantly, something new to feel. Each place leaves a different impression on our soul and our mind. It is for us to discover, which of the above will set our soul on fire and burn it until it is freed.
A human body is amazing machine, if it is not doing anything, it starts thinking, about things you have seen, experienced and then it starts connecting different things from different timelines, helping you to complete, some of your incomplete stories. After a long day in Hampi I was in bus, tired and wanted to sleep but the roads made sure, that I wont. The thing about Indian road trips is that, you realize, you are traveling by road almost every minute and if you have a last seat in the bus, you might even get free massage also! Now you can imagine how my journey was from Hampi to Badami. Body that needed sleep and mind that wont stop thinking.
And then I found a piece of my incomplete story. Years ago, after a particular terrorist attack I was completely shaken and I was not able to understand, ‘how can people kill someone and was in distress for many days, before a friend of mine stated something, which seemed very normal for him, “that’s Human nature! A vengeful mind does everything to weaken its enemy!”
I just had seen a city, even in its ruined state it was a marvel. I needed a reason to understand all the destruction. And I couldn’t find any. Even if the sultan wanted to win the city, why would he destroy it? It was a gold mine, the biggest market in India. The city had everything you need to have a good kingdom, why destroy it? An elderly couple traveling with us gave me the missing piece of my story, “If you want to conquer someone, destroy their faith, destroy their hope first. And that’s what sultan did. He destroyed temple to destroy the faith and all the other grand structures to destroy the hope.” But this information only increased the unrest inside me. That day in bus for whole 3 hours, all I could think was, how vengeful can a human mind be! It doesn’t understand how to help another human being, but perfectly understands that you need to break the other person to conquer them.
Next day started with my favorite filter kapfi and we were set to watch more ruins, more marvels and more thinking. We were going to place called Pattadakal,where there are 5 different kinds of architectural constructions in one place. In hindu religion, if any idol is broken, it is not to be worshiped. And after reaching Pattadakal 1st thing our guide told us was, only 1 of those temples had a unbroken idol. And bang, you can have the temples but it wont be of any significance. I was angry and sad and confused. A simple visit to a ruin temple can make you feel so many fucked up emotions. Who need relationships to fuck you up, when you have your own emotions!
As for the Pattadakal, the site is just amazing! It represents the high point of an eclectic art which, in the 7th and 8th centuries under the Chalukya dynasty, achieved a harmonious blend of architectural forms from northern and southern India. An impressive series of nine Hindu temples, as well as a Jain sanctuary, can be seen there. One masterpiece from the group stands out – the Temple of Virupaksha, built in 740 A.D. by Queen Lokamahadevi to commemorate her husband’s victory over the kings from the South.
The oldest temple at Pattadakal is Sangamesvara built by Vijayaditya Satyasraya (AD 697-733). The other notable temples at Pattadakal are the Kadasiddhesvara, Jambulingeswara both attributed to 7th century A.D. while Galaganatha temple was built a century later in the style of rekha nagara prasada. The Kasivisvesvara temple was the last to be built in early Chalukyan style. The Mallikarjuna temple was constructed by Rani Trilokyamahadevi to celebrate the victory over the Pallavas by Vikramaditya II. She is also credited to have built the Virupaksha temple influenced by the architecture of the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram. The Virupaksha temple later served as a model for the Rashtrakuta ruler Krishna I (757 -783 A.D.) to carve out the great Kailasa at Ellora.
However, the last addition at Pattadakal was made during the reign of Rashtrakuta ruler Krishna II of the 9th century A.D. in form of a Jaina temple, locally famous as Jaina Narayana, with its two lower storeys functional.
One can see the stories from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata and Panchatantra craved on the pillers and walls of all these temples. Some even depicted the culture of that time.
Later we went to Aihole, also known as According to legend of Lord Parshurama, after avenging the death of his father, he came down to the river Malaprabha and washed his blood stained hands and axe. The blood turned the river red. A woman saw this and screamed in Kannada, ‘Ayyo Hole’ means ‘Oh No Blood’, hence it is called as Aihole.
Aihole was once the capital of the Chalukya Dynasty and has more than 125 temples in the primises. We visited only few important site such as Durga Temple & Ladg Khan Temple. These temples have carvings which are a treat to your eyes. Even here, you will find all the temples broken! It has big lushy green law in front of it making it look even more elegant.
Any trip is incomplete without two fundamental things, shopping and bonfire. We enjoyed both these things in Badami. Every moment with some crazy fun loving people in your life can become a lifetime memory.
Estern Hemigway said that never go on trips with anyone you do not love. Well, this was my first and certainly not the last trip with two people I am closest to. How could I be not excited! Long phone calls discussing the details, listing the things we want to do and of course the selfies we want to take and photos we want to click. Endless planning for a perfect trip. We were going with 30 unknown people and that’s all we knew till the trip day and luckily the cities we choose has an awe-inspiring history and that added the dramatic flavor to this whole trip. Every feeling was new in an old but ruin city.
We were to leave on 21st December 2017, at 4:15 AM and the timing itself stated that we wont be sleeping well for that night. We had to reach Pune Railway Station around 03:30 and since my place is very far from station I decided to stay at my friends place. To my surprise, most of my packing was done by my mom, since it was very hectic day at office and also, my whole family came to drop me at friend’s place. Perks of having a loving family, I guess.
When we reached Pune Junction, we met the volunteers of these wonderful organisation, who help people to explore different forts and destinations, called “Gadvede”. And like their organisation, they were wonderful. To be honest, at first, I had this impression, that it is going to be just three of us, enjoying our little time off in our own little world, but I am so glad that somehow the world expanded and we were able to welcome many amazing people in our world. And all thanks to four people who made that process enjoyable. Rohit, Shantanu, Prasad and Ashwini our managers, as shall call them, made sure that everyone got along, well almost everyone.
It was a morning train so instead of sleeping we decided to stand in train doors, feeling the fresh cold breeze and watching sun come up. It was a sight to behold. I even managed to capture a perfect sunrise as my journey photograph.
Remaining train journey was all about getting to know co passengers, playing games and capturing some train photographs. We were to get down at Hospate around 8:00PM, which is around 12 KM from our first destination Hampi. The day was tiring and after completing our dinner, we went for short walk which ended with us having pan.
There was a time when I used to travel by train every 3 months just to meet my granny or masi, but then we started travelling by car. Now that I have traveled by train again, I realised how much I missed the train travels.
Our Day 2 started with authentic South Indian food, Upma and Shevai. So mandetory local food eating was off my list and it was time to take another destination off my bucket list – Hampi The Ruin City. Everyone has a bucket list of places they want to travel and hampi was among top 5 in mine. I had read sooo much about this place and had seen soo many beautiful pictures of this city. It was very difficult to stay clam. I was excited beyond anything.
Our tour started with Mr. Hussein, our tour guide for the day. First place he took us to was Sasivekalu Ganesha Temple in Hampi. One thing you should know about the Hampi is that, though once it was the second largest city in South Aisa, all you can see now is a lost glory of the city. Every monument built out of giant granite rocks could have been a grand wonder but the rivalry with the mughals lead to the down fall and destruction of the city, now all you can see is a ruin city. Same is with the Sasivekalu temple. A grand broken Ganesha murthy depicting the glorious and ravaging history.
It is said that, near sasivekalu temple there was an university of architects, where students were taught to build temples and other structures. Hence you can see the small demo structures leading to the grand monuments & temples and all are ruined. The techniques they used such as the rock balancing techniques and stone cutting techniques were very modern for their era. It made me wonder, were they more developed in 15th century than we are now? Or just because we could click a picture of their work made us more developed?!?
The next stop was at Virupaksha temple, one of the very few temples who survived destruction of the city. The Shiva temple was built in 7th century. You can google its history. The temple has beautiful carvings inspired from Chinese and Roman style and not to mention it has an enormous Pravesh Dwara. The real beauty of this structure can only be felt. No picture can describe how you feel when you touch a 13 centuries older pillar or when you look at a painting which is that old. But at least I can give glimpse of its beauty.
Another big temple is now considered as a statue, because it was broken during the trashing of the city, known as the Narsimha statue, It is one of the biggest sculptures in the city.
A city that big, has to have kings palace and queens palace. Unfortunately all you get to see is their base. After the attack sultan burned down the entire palaces and other structures, leaving us with more imagination. But a fine structure survived. The structure is built like a lotus and from there it derived its name ‘Lotus Mahal’. A masterpiece which was used by the queens as socializing area. It is a two storied mahal, the base is of Islamic style architecture and the 1st floor was of Dravidian style. The mahal had an unique air conditioning system which consist of use of clay pipelines. Who wouldn’t want to take picture in front of such amazing structure? And so we all clicked picture standing in front of the mahal and then on the beautiful lawn in front of the mahal. I almost have around 200 photos of this place. Different people and different angles and different life-time memories.
Our Last stop for the day was the famous Vithala Temple. This place was my main attraction for the trip, I was very exicted to see the musical pillers, which produce the music of 10 different musical instruments. It is said that when the piller were is good condition, there music could be heard from the distance of 200 meter. Then the second attraction was Garud Ratha, a huge chariot,with fine sculpturing. The wheels of this ratha rotated around but due to damage and hampering, it has now been cemented to the ground. The sculptures of temple consist of different stories of Mahabharata, Ramayana and Panchatantra. Some sculptures had its own specialty. You could see a angry bull from one angle and a roaring elephant from another. And when you see a masterpiece of brilliant architect and creativity, you wonder, THIS PEOPLE WITH LIMITED RESOURCES COULD ACHIEVE SUCH EXCELLENCE LIKE PRODUCING MUSIC FROM STONES AND ALL WE DO IS PLAY LUDO! Its good to see something astonishing in you life. It does have some kind of soothing effect on you. I love such moments.
The day ended with a golden sun setting by the Tungabhadra river and a cup of Chai.
This trek was a journey for me in a sense. I was delighted that this trek happened. Not in a life changing way but it was definitely a life enriching experience.
For this trek, I was merging my two groups. And if that doesn’t go well, trust me your life is screwed. These two groups have their own place in my life and obviously I wanted them not to hate each other, if not like each other.
As all the historic places of our country, hold huge historic significance, even this fort has its own glorious ups and downs. It was built during 1713-1720 CE by Balaji Vishwanath, the first Peshwa of Maratha Empire. And later, in the 18th century was conquered by the British for its feasible location to attack Lohagad Fort. And for all the history lovers, please visit Wikipedia.
We had decided to catch the local of 7:30 am but later found out that it does not go to malavali at all. So like every group, plan was changed even before it started. Finally we reached our destination and the journey began, from malavali station to Visapur fort.
The total hike was of 9-10 km. It seems as a huge number for not-doing-any-exercise-at-all-teenagers (like us). But as they say, your company decides the actual journey and not the distance.
Right after you enter visapur village there is a beautiful Visapur waterfall. Right next to it there is a way for Bhaje Leni or Bhaje Caves, which we decided to skip due to time constrain.
The start was exciting, and as soon as I started enjoying a dramatic change of events happened and my ankle was sprained while climbing that waterfall. I had two choices, either go back or continue with sprained ankle, for next 15-16 KMs and that does not include the steep rocky waterfall climbing. Needless to say I choose second option. And boy! I am grateful to myself for taking that decision. And I am grateful to my friend Anagha kale, who made sure that my veins are not blocked, which most of the time cause the swelling.
The best part about this trek is that it is a water fall trek. After reaching the base of the fort, you have to walk for about 1.5-2 KM approx., where you get a free pedicure (if you are not wearing shoes). Then the real fort trek start. Half of it is in slippery mud stones and half of it is in cold waterfall. If the rains are in your favour, you would be lucky enough to see the stepping stone. I don’t have any picture of this route, since it was raining. It is about 30-40 Meters high and pretty steep. And that’s why it is way more fun to climb. Make sure you wear shoes with nice grip, have a windcheater with you.
My journey till the waterfall climbing was bearable or I guess I ignored the pain. But when I saw what I had to climb, that to with a sprained ankle, I had my doubts, and I even considered staying back and waiting for my friends to return after completing their trek. But if you have good friends, they will not leave you behind, even when they know that you are going to be difficult to handle. I am blessed to have such people in my life.
I started my climb with the help of Arjun (a friend of mine), he was there on every step, helping me to climb one step at a time. And when I need someone else’s help, like always, I had my best friend Swapnali by my side. If you have gone on any such treks, you know people are always ready to help, if you have some problem. And so they did, I received so many helping hand through my journey to the top. Out of all these unknown people, I only know one name, a guy called Siddhesh, who helped me like 7-8 times. But through this blog, I want to say thank you to everyone who, knowingly or unknowingly helped me to climb. It is every strange though, I don’t know their names, but I still remember their faces. And probably, I will always remember their faces, because they have helped me when I needed it.
Carry a lot of food, because once you reach the top, you will find yourself famished and there is no scope of getting any food over there.
And after all this, when you finally reach your mountain top, you know for moment like these, you live. For moment like these, which defines your attitude, which helps you to break your comfort zone, which makes you stronger and which makes you believe in your capacity. Moments like these offer you the real freedom. In those moments you live only for yourself. Yes, the climb was not that difficult but the sprained ankle made it difficult for me. And true, everyone helped me to reach there, but the pain was mine and completely mine, so was the whole satisfaction. May be that was my Everest, at least for time being!
Posting some of the photos of ‘Adalaj House Well or Rudabai Stepwell is a stepwell located in the village of Adalaj, close to Ahmedabad city and in Gandhinagar district in the Indian state of Gujarat. it was built in 1499 by Mahmud Nevada for his Queen Rudabai, wife of Veersingh, the Vaghela Cheiftain. It is an example of Indo-Islam fusion architecture work.
The step well or ‘Vav‘, as it is called in Gujarati, is intricately carved and is five stories deep. Such step wells were once integral to the semi-arid regions of Gujarat, as they provided water for drinking, washing and bathing. These wells were also venues for colourful festivals and sacred rituals.
The steps lead to water and in water, oh dear God, I seek you!