Badami, famous for its ancient cave temples which are 1400 yrs old, is a great option for different section of people. It is a paradise for photographers, a great ride for 500 km and a great place to learn about history and architecture of Chalukyans. You need to have at least 3 days to cover Badami, if you are riding, which makes it a perfect option for a long weekend.
Travel Date: Long weekend of Ganesh Chaturthi (3rd Sep-5th Sep 2016).
This trip was a great combination of different people: one bachelor guy (Chang), two married couples(Puneet, Ankita, Anubha and I) and one couple with a 5yr old kid(Ayush and Divya) with different modes of transport : one car and two bikes.
Badami is a small town with a population around 35K (got this info from a local guide). There are couple of basic stay options available with Clarks Inn as the only luxurious known brand. We booked an hotel named Rajsangam International Hotel which has nothing international in it except seven sonata wall clocks set to different time zones. However, it was a decent option with a great location (at center of the town) and room service at a cost of Rs. 950/night for a non-AC room.
On the first day, we were so tired after the ride that we didn’t even attempt to go out for dinner and ordered the room service. Food was delicious with large number of choices in the menu except tandoor items. My personal recommendation is Jeera Rice with Dal Tadka and Chicken Biryani. The hotel also has a bar downstairs, but it looked more like a desi joint for locals and not a place for family. Room service was really good, they serve beers and snacks as well in the room (all known beer brands were there along with our favorite peanut masala).
We tried another restaurant named Lemon Tree for lunch, which was just half km away from the hotel. Food was ok but nothing great, so we decided to order the room service again for the dinner.
There is a small bakery named Bangalore Bakery in the town and there is nothing great about it except there is a pan shop beside the bakery, where I had one of the best sweet pan. You must try that if you are a pan lover.
Places to visit:
My top picks are :
- You can visit temples at Aihole and Pattakdal, which is around ~35km from Badami. You can easily cover both of these places in 5-6 hours.
- Spend an evening at Agastya lake side in Badami, you need to search or ask for directions to Archaeological Museum. Basically Badami has two main hills separated by a lake, one hill is having a museum and also way to go near lake and other is having the famous cave temples.
- Explore the cave temples, I would recommend hiring a guide. I felt more connected with the place after he explained about the history and different monolithic carved statues.
All places are Archaeological sites, so they won’t allow tripods no matter how much you try to convince them. There is no frisking on the main gate, so if you desperately wants to take long shutter shots, you my smuggle the gorrilla tripod in socks :P:P.
All places are only open from 6am to 6pm, you can still hangout near lake side but main vantage point is closed for sunset shots after 6pm.
The interesting thing was the mix of Kannada and Marathi culture. As Badami is very close to Maharashtra, there is some overlap in the culture. People were speaking Kannada but their clothes, men were wearing dhoti instead of lungi and women were having Marathi style sarrees. It was great to see such a hybrid culture for the first time.
Ride from Bangalore to Badami
Bags were packed, gadgets were charged, bike was refueled and we were ready to leave at 4:45 AM except our couple with kid who finally came at 6:00 AM with the default excuse that they were late because of the kid. I put my bag in the car and just carried my tripod and camera bag on bike. Chang left home around 5 AM in a hope that we will not be that late but he was wrong. He reached our meeting point (Neelamangala) before we even started from our place. I told him to continue riding and we decided to meet after Tumkur for breakfast. We took a Nice Ring road till Neelamangala and managed to reach there in 35 minutes and another 25 min to cross Tumkur.
Chang stopped at a breakfast joint (VRL Logistics) on the highway 20km after Tumkur. There was nothing special in the food with basic idly, vada and tea although tea was good. We had breakfast together and decided to meet next at Chitradurga (~120 km) where we need to take a right towards Hospet. Ride to Chitradurga is awesome with nice view of windmills and a great 6 lane highway to hit a speed of 150km/hr.
130 km of boredom
Road from Chitradurga to Hospet (~130 km) was the complete opposite to previous 120 km till Chitradurga. Two lane, badly maintained road with slow moving traffic with mainly trucks which don’t give you a pass and you actually count each and every km of the ride. The road construction was going on to make the route 4 lane, may be the work will be done in next few months. Finally, bad stretch of road ends around 5 km before Hospet and suddenly I saw a large water body on the left which looked like a sea. I put on the brakes and tried to figure out that how did I reach coastal line when I was planning to go to central northern part. It was the famous dam in Hospet.
Last stretch from Hospet to Badami was great with 2/3rd part as 4 lane highway. We had lunch at some random roadside dhaba which served descent food. Last 50 km we crossed several villages with lot of abrupt speed brakes but road condition was good. Hotel was easy to find as it was on the main road opposite to Badami bus station.
Ditched the Google Map, tried old school way
On the way back from Badami to Bangalore, we found another route to avoid the bad stretch from Hospet. We decided to go via Hubbali which is a longer route but mostly highway. Hotel manager suggested us to go to Hubbali via Gadag instead of the route suggested by Google and we agreed to go old school way and ditched Google maps which was a great decision as the route via Gadag was great 2 lane road with very less traffic.
Benne Dosa @Davangere
Puneet suggested a place in Davangere which serves awesome butter dosa. We reached davangere around 3:30 pm, I expected the dosa place to be some big restaurant but it turned out to be a very small place named Sri Kouttureshwara Benne Dose Hotel opposite to JJMC (Medical College). But after the first bite of the dosa, whole disappointment was gone and once again the famous quote proved to be correct “Dont judge a book by its cover”. Now food was done and trip was almost over, here comes the final stretch of the journey where all you need to do is ride and ride hard. Once again we put on the helmets, start the engine of the bike and hit the highway.
Around 6-6:30, I was riding at full speed but the view from the mirror kept on disturbing me. Multiple colors in the sky with a balanced distribution of clouds, desperately trying to convince a photographer soul over the biker one. Biker soul who wanted to continue riding, as we were still 150 km away from Bangalore and didn’t want to break the rule of “Not Riding in the Dark”. Finally my artistic soul wins, agreeing to the fact that we will have to ride at least 100 km in the dark and other people will not wait for us. I put on the brakes and takeout my camera to capture the amazing sunset. When I got the final results in my laptop, I realize that it was completely worth it.