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Hospet to Badami

Aihole and Pattadakal

sunny 34 °C
View Indian Caves and Temples Tour 2011 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Nothing disturbed my sleep last night – not the trains whistling every couple of hours, the wedding party, the renovation workers who were still hammering and sawing when I went to bed at 23:00, the super-noisy A\C, or the cars hooting all night! I slept through it all!

The road to Badami was mostly under construction, with miles and miles of road works and diversions. It'll be nice when it's finished. Along the way we stopped at a goat and sheep market, and later a vegetable market, before arriving at Aihole around lunchtime.

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Aihole was the first capital of the early Chalukyas, who built over 125 temples in various styles. Chaluhya was an Indian royal dynasty that ruled large parts of southern and central India between the 6th and the 12th centuries, and the ruined capital of Aihole dates back to the beginning of their rule.


The temples are spread around a large area, with monuments dotted between houses, rocks and the gravel road, some of which are in use by the locals as meeting places or somewhere to dry their laundry. The main site was incredibly peaceful, with just us and a group of photography mad technical students from Bangalore on a weekend break. Not to forget the two-dozen grass-cutters of course – ladies crouching over the lawn clipping the tufts with knives. A lawnmower would have done the job in an hour, these ladies probably take three days or more. Maybe this is an idea for a job creation scheme for the British youth?


You really have to have eyes in all directions on the roads in India, and fortunately for one young girl, Madesh does. Cycling on the left hand side of the road, she suddenly decided to veer across the road to the other side, without looking. With a screech of tires, the car came to an almost standstill before the impact, so no real harm was done. One very shaken girl, a little less rubber on our tires, a couple of small scratches in the paintwork, and a lot of shouting from the village elders.

In contrast to the tranquillity of Aihole, the nearby monuments of Pattadakal were pure pandemonium. When the Bollywood music wasn't blaring out at full volume, there appeared to be a local version of X-Factor, with a number of talentless wannabes belting out their renditions of some unknown number that sounded more like a pig being tortured than song. To add insult to injury, a group of pesky and persistent kids arrived, demanding pens, sweets and money, insisting on standing in front of the camera whenever I tried to photograph one of the monuments. Saying no, ignoring, shouting, smacking, and not even the Howard glare seemed to get rid of them, so when the official came along with his big stick and said a few choice words that made them run off at the speed of light, I could have kissed him! Those are the most irritating children we have come across on the entire trip; most have been curious but totally charming.

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The 8th century monuments at Pattadakal were designated a UNESCO Heritage Site status in 1987, and are better seen from a distance rather than close-up. Built from the softer sandstone, the carvings haven't fared as well over time as some others. I never thought I'd find myself being a carvings-snob!

We have now arrived in Badami – a scruffy hotel in a scruffy town.


Posted by Grete Howard 03:44 Archived in India

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