The archaeological grandeur of the quiet villages of Badami, Pattadakal, and Aihole belie the intrepid rural charm they exude today. Located in the Bagalkot district of northern Karnataka in south India, Badami is known for its exquisite rock-cut cave temples, red sandstone cliffs, and an emerald green artificial lake Agasthya. Large tracts of verdant lush farmland surround Badami and the caves boast of some of India’s finest rock-cut architecture. The site, too which goes by the same name extends east into a gorge between two red sandstone hills and a crumbling ancient fort complex tops them both. A smattering of idyllic rustic houses are scattered at the feet of the sandstone hills and complete with pesky monkeys, inquisitive folks, colourful village markets, jingling bells of bullocks ploughing the fields, rows of palm groves with feathery frond-like leaves, and miles of large, blooming sunflowers, Badami is charmingly atmospheric. Narrow village roads meander through them all and occasional outcrops of violet wildflower-covered sandstone hills make it even lovelier.

View of Lake Agasthya in Badami

A hot summer ride

A few years ago, I visited Badami with a travel blogger friend, Jatin Adlakha and it was the image of the gorgeous cave temples overlooking the lake which drew me to the dusty little southern village. The month was June and the Indian summer was at its peak when the two of us rode all the way from Hyderabad to Badami. It was a long, hot ride through the heart of intrepid southern India and we reached our destination in around 7 hours. We were exhausted and dehydrated by the time our destination arrived and our aching bodies screamed for rest. The hot noon sun made the ride even more difficult and we were nearly ready to give up when glimpses of Badami showed up between the hills in front of us. From our elevated position, we could see the whole stretch of green and brown farmland disappear into a soft golden sunset, and palm trees cast long shadows on them. Small hills broke the flat tapestry of nature and endless fields of sunflowers smiled at us. It was a sight that took our breaths away and we rushed towards the temple town with eager, excited hearts.

Badami temple carving of a nymph

Action-packed Badami days and restful evenings

From our vantage point, Badami was still 30 minutes away and we rode past the sites of Aihole and Pattadakal to reach our destination quickly. It was nearly sunset by the time dusty Badami arrived and being a dinner plate-sized town, did not offer many accommodation options. A single noisy and dusty main road had bifurcated the village and beyond the front line of houses and stores, backstreets radiated into the sandstone hills. The village meandered along the backstreets and the old white-washed houses with carved wooden doorways and little courtyards stood interspersed amidst ancient ruins. It was a very atmospheric, small village where everybody knew everybody and the entire area shut down at around 8 pm; a kind of a place where the days are spent exploring its rural prettiness with some occasional lazing and unwinding, with the noon being meant for siestas and sunsets are the noisiest times of the day. Nightfall ushers in early dinner and some mundane TV watching before hitting the bed for an early morning start. At Badami, we also followed this routine and our brief stay was filled with action-packed days and relaxed, restful nights. In the upcoming posts, I will be presenting a collection of photo essays of our Badami, Pattadakal, and Aihole road trip and the series begins with some sunflowers, sandstone hills, and green fields.

An ancient powerful empire

Full of power,

Glory and

And Pompousness,

My Badami trip had been

An incredible experience.

The road trip through

Rural Karnataka

Was planned especially

To explore the sites of


Aihole and,


Full of natural beauty,

And local experiences,

The road trip took us

Down the intrepid lane

Into the beating heart

Of rural India.

A stunning destination

With an equally amazing journey,

The Badami road trip

Was unforgettable.

It’s one of those trips

In which the journey

Is as amazing

As the destination.