Pulakeshin’s Dream - The Splendours Of Badami, Aihole And Pattadakal

The Chalukyas ruled large parts of Southern and Central India between the 6th and the 12th centuries. They ruled as three related yet individual dynasties. The earliest of them were known as the “Badami Chalukyas”. The Badami Chalukya architecture was a temple building idiom that evolved in the Malaprabha river basin, in present-day Bagalkot district.

Chalukya style originated in Aihole and was perfected in Badami and Pattadakal. Their style includes two types of monuments: rock cut halls or "cave temples", and "structural" temples, built above ground. Art critic Dr. M. Sheshadri wrote of the Chalukya art that they cut rock like Titans but finished like jewellers. The Chalukya temples provide a fine balance of versatility and restrain. On this journey we will visit all three of the major locations for Chalukya architecture - Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal.

This journey will be led by Dr. Raghavendra Rao H. Kulkarni, Professor, Department of Art History, College of Fine Arts, Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath. Dr Kulkarni is a well-known expert of art history and has worked extensively on Badami Chalukya temples. He has to his credit multiple publications/books and research papers on related topics.


We begin the journey late in the evening from Bengaluru. We will meet at the departure point and travel by overnight bus to reach Badami early in the morning the next day.

Aihole and Pattadakal

After arriving in Badami we will check in to our hotel first. After a brief halt for freshening up & breakfast we will leave for Aihole and Pattadakal. Located around an eponymous small village surrounded by farmlands and sandstone hills, Aihole is a major archaeological site featuring over one hundred and twenty stone and cave temples from this period, spread along the Malaprabha river valley. Among the sites we will cover are the Durga temple complex, Ravana phadi cave, Hucchappayya matha & gudi, Mallikarjuna temple complex etc.

In the second half of the day, we will visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Pattadakal. UNESCO has described Pattadakal as "a harmonious blend of architectural forms from northern and southern India" and an illustration of "eclectic art" at its height. The temples are generally dedicated to Shiva but also feature some amount of Vaishnavism and Shaktism. There are ten major temples, including Kadasiddheshwara, Sangameshwara, Virupaksha temples, at Pattadakal. Eight of these major temples are clustered together.

Post this we will depart towards the hotel in Badami and retire for the day.

Meals for the day: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.  Stay: Badami


Badami is Vatapi. The Puranas state the asura Vatapi was killed by sage Agastya, and it refers to this area as Vatapi and Agastya Tirtha. Badami Chalukyas was founded in 540 AD by Pulakeshin I (535-566 AD). An inscription record of this king engraved on a boulder in Badami records the fortification of the hill above "Vatapi" in 544 AD. Pulakeshin's choice of this location for his capital was possibly driven by the fact that Badami is protected on three sides by rugged sandstone cliffs. We will spend the entire day amongst the magnificent temples of Badami. The rock-cut Badami Cave Temples, a complex of Hindu, Jain and possibly even Buddhist cave temples, were sculpted mostly between the 6th and 8th centuries. We will then visit the The Bhutanatha group of temples, a cluster of sandstone shrines.

Meals for the day: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Stay:  Badami


On the last day of our journey, we will check out of the hotel early in the morning and return towards Bengaluru. Time permitting, we will make a stop at Lakkundi near Gadag for a short visit to the ruins of the temples of the Kalyani Chalukyas, a branch of the Chalukya dynasty who resurfaced after nearly 200 years of dormancy after the original Badami Chalukyas. We will make a stop midway for lunch.

We will conclude the journey approximately 10:00 PM in Bengaluru at the drop location.