A better place to understand India’s heritage and experience the rural side of the country; journey to Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal can be summarised like this. These places are less popular on the tourism map, hence very suitable for those preferring an offbeat destination for their travel. You can visit these three places in two days, a weekend is more than enough. But if you have more time, you can include few more places nearby like Hampi and Bijapur.
How to reach?
Overnight buses are there from Bangalore. So better try to catch a bus that reaches Badami by morning next day. Buses are always available from Hampi and Mangalore also. If you wish to travel in train. Find any passing through Hubli station. From there Badami is around 120 km away. Trains are also available from Hubli to Badami. Badami railway station is about 2-3 km from the town.
For return also either you can take train or bus. Bus booking offices can be found along the main street itself.
Badami is the only option for accommodation. It is big compared to Aihole and Pattadakal. You will easily find hotels in the main city centre itself. During peak times, make sure you book rooms in advance. The rooms are economical in general. If coming in groups, it is better to get a bigger room that can accommodate minimum 4-5 people, so per head expense will be around 400 INR.
What to do there?
If you are reaching Badami by morning, find a hotel so that you can fresh up and keep your bag. It is better to visit Aihole first. Buses are available from Badami. But they are not frequent and you will find little difficult to find buses at right time. Another option is hiring an auto rickshaw. I hired an auto for 800 INR for 5 people for a day. You can hitchhike also.
Aihole is 35 km from Badami. The temple complex is under the Archaeological survey of India. The complex is open from 6 AM to 5.30 PM all the days of the week. There are other monuments spread across the village. The entry fee to the complex is Rs 10 for Indian citizens and INR 250 for the foreign citizen. If you have time, it is good to explore the village. You can find many interesting things while walking inside the village. The people here are very friendly and welcoming. So don’t hesitate to start a conversation and understand the life and culture here.
Few small tea shops are the only refreshment options in Aihole.
Pattadakal is between Aihole and Badami, 22 km from Badami. You can spend the second half of the day there. The temple complex is a UNESCO world heritage site. It remains open from 6 AM to 6 PM. Evenings are the best here. This temple complex is not so big, so you can reach back Badami by nightfall. There are few basic shops outside the complex.
There is plenty to see in Badami. The second day can be completely spent here. The monuments are spread in three regions across the city but nearby. The rock cave temples are on one side of the hill.
Once you come to the opposite side, there is a museum and Badami fort. You have to trek up to reach the fort, from the top you will get the view of Badami and the surrounding areas. All the monuments in Badami are open from 6 AM to 6 PM. The entry fees to Badami cave temples are 10 INR for Indians and 100 INR for foreign citizens.
On the banks of Agasthya lake, you will see the Bhoothnath temple situated in a surreal backdrop of Badami hills. The temple is best during evenings. The timings are same as other monuments.
So if you want to explore more here, trek up to Mahakuta early in the morning. The trek route is about 6 km, it will take 1-2 hours depending on your walking speed to reach there. You can experience the landscapes and flora of this region during the trek. Temple will be less crowded if you reach early in Mahakuta, you can have a dip in the Vishnu pushkarni (tank). Inside, there is a small chamber which can be entered only through a narrow passage at the bottom of the tank.
I came to know about Mahakuta from our auto-rickshaw driver. He insisted us to definitely visit the temple complex and it is worth visiting, especially the trek.
Either you can trek back the same route or take a taxi. It will be better to take a taxi so that you can save time. Moreover, it will be very hot during mid-day time.
Please let me know about your experiences once you visit these places.
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