Heritage site hopping weekend

Our Weekend plan was to hop starting from Badami – Mahakoota – Patadakkal – Aihole – upto Bijapur. We did this on a July weekend, 2015.

Bijapur way

We started our planning about 2 weeks before it. Our itinerary was based on some research and discussions amongst us over emails. We were 7+1 kiddo.

We took a train from Bangalore, Golgumbaz express 16536, to Badami. It goes up to Bijapur, but we wanted to head up by starting at the bottom (see map). All of us boarded from different stations and finally set out of Bangalore by 6:30 p.m. The train ran on time, and we reached Badami at 8 am.
IMG_3706
At Badami Station, as we walked outside, it is easy to hire a 6 seater taxi to the only Govt.accommodation, Hotel Mayura, at a cost of Rs.100. We spoke to the same guy to take us around Badami, Mahakoota, Aihole & Pattadakal for the whole day. I think we fixed him for some 2000 bucks for the day.
At the hotel, they are quite humble and check-in or check-out timings are not very strict and they often cut you some slack. They let us check in early. We freshened up, had a nice breakfast at the hotel canteen itself, and headed out.
We decided that we will check out Badami caves at the end of the day, so we first headed for Mahakoota, as it seemed to be nearest from there.
mahakoota 1Thankfully, this beautiful site was not flanked with crazy noisy tourists. We spent way too much time there thinking where will we get this serenity again. We realised at about 12 pm that we had to move faster to cover rest of the places.
Next we headed for Pattadakal. We skipped lunch, because we knew if we stopped some more, we’d have to drop something for next day, but that was out of question. Next day was dedicated to Bijapur. None of us was sure what we had planned for Bijapur, and you will notice later that we regretted it badly the next day.
Back to Pattadakal:
pattadakalWe hired a guide to tell us about the UNESCO protected site, stories I really cannot recollect, but they were not special enough either, which is surprising. We spent about 2 hours there, before heading for Aihole.

Aihole, sadly, is a much more pretty site, and tattered as much – not cared for. But why and how does UNESCO decide to ignore such an intriguing site? Aihole, if you go inside the museum, is an entire town full of ruins and remains, but only a 20% of that part has been made into a tourist campus. Heartbreaking to see the state of rest of precious ruins on your ride through the village. Don’t know how it is still hidden from all history buffs and archeological enthusiasts.
aihole 1

I almost unwillingly left from Aihole, as I had not been able to explore it fully. But we had to head for Badami, and did not want to stall everyone’s plans either. We rode off to Badami caves..our final heritage site for the day.

Badami caves are a less-expected surprise. I couldn’t help them compare with Petra in Jordan, but thats unfair as I haven’t been there. Badami is no less a marvel though, with what technology were these guys able to cut off the rocks and go deep in them?
badami caveIt was almost close to closing time at 6 pm, so we hurried up to check out the caves. The slight trek upwards is the one with a gated security, otherwise you can go walk at the foot of the same hill and go see some more caves at the bottom, there are some other interesting ceramic statues on that path as well.
badami 2But as the sun the was going down, we figured the site across the lake at Badami was an interesting spot to be, with many more heritage buildings visible on the hill that side.
badami 3We sprinted down the hill and asked our auto guy to transport us to other side of river through teeny tiny lanes of Badami town. In next 5 minutes were there, and the gate to climb up the hill to the monuments was thankfully still open. We hurried up, trying to touch every mandalam we could lays our eyes on. One of them has a specially narrow secluded way twisted between huge rocks, we somehow managed to climb through it. It was worth the view from top!
badami 4But the most breathtaking view is undoubtedly to walk till the end of the ghat.. at the rims of the lake, you see the beautiful temple with a great backdrop of a rocky hill.
badami 1We then headed for the resort to get dinner and a goodnight’s sleep, for early wake up next morning.

Next day, a sunday, we rushed to the railway station to catch the same train we had got off the last day. The Golgumbaz express to Bijapur. the train stopped unplanned for long breaks at a station called “Basavanbagevadi Jn”. We killed time by posing DDLJ and clicking several pics 😛
We arrived at Bijapur at about 9 am.
We had done absolutely no research about Bijapur, precisely because google does not have much helpful information, also many photos online are tagged and named wrongly.

We decided to begin with Golgumbaz, as it was just near by to a hotel one of our attendees was staying at, she was supposed to join us in Bijapur. Also, we were duped big time by the Tonga-walas. They are such crooks across Bijapur, completely took advantage of our large group that was helplessly not together all the time, so they used miscommunication to their advantage and literally fleeced us of money for no reason. Later in the evening the same tonga-walas came around super drunk using all the money they made us pay in the morning. Useless assholes! try stay away from these crooks.
Golgumbaz was awesome. Entry fees of about Rs.5, the experience is close to rare. The Golgumbaz is a magnificient monument, looks almost larger than life, unless you think about Taj Mahal and the likes. However, very few such marvels of architecture exist in India.

This building is just at the entrance, the giant tomb is hidden behind it

This building is just at the entrance, the giant tomb is hidden behind it

We hired a guide to tell us about the place, he asked us to pay as we find it fit after the tour given by him. Our Guide was really a colorful guy, animated and a singer – as we found out later.
The Golgumbaz, was a building that held meetings for the King. The architecture was such that utilised principles of sound travel and propagation, in an era when electricity and having a Mic was out of question. The dome allows you to speak in few designated corners of the building, and the sound is beautifully distributed and delivered in form of a loudspeaker kind of voice experience to the entire hall. The King was probably sitting in the centre at his grand seat at the ground floor, where a string phone or speaker would allow him to speak at normal volume, the strings would transfer the sound to the designated corners at the top floor of the dome and propagate the sound all over the hall.

bijapur 2

We only understood the theory when our dear guide, asked us to wait at one side at the top floor. He almost disappeared in the large circular floor, suddenly we could hear his voice as if he was talking right next to us! and then we spotted him far far away across from the hall, speaking into a corner. That is bloody amazing! I mean centuries ago..these people were much more advanced than us. They really used science and maths in amazing ways. He sang a string of famous songs for us, and with us all the crowd within the dome enjoyed the Vividh-Bharati live.. 🙂
We hope we rewarded him generously. By the way, climb up the dome is a 7 floor climb through a really tiny staircase. If you are Fat.. god help you. I’m a size less 😛
bijapur 1

By lunch we were out of there. Rest day we planned to check out other heritage sites, that we had heard about. Mobile data was not working in Bijapur, we were clueless, my companions were rather least interested in finding about more locations as well. We were all acting too lazy. We visited the following places:
Jod Gumbaz – a twin dome, but its basement is flanked with homeless people beside the durgah
Jami Masjid – could be missed, if you have seen Jama Masjid in other bigger cities like Ahmedabad & Delhi ofcourse.
Ibrahim Rouza – this place is worth visiting, it was thankfully less crowded and it was raining a lot, so we had enough time to click many pics. Google tags pic of this place with a wrong name. Research a little more.
Baarah Kaman – 12 unfinished arches. This place also can be missed, though it has great history and story behind it, nothing much to see
Malika-e-Maidan – Looked like most tourists chose to miss this place, however would suggest to visit it, it has nice view of the city and serene little garden. With a small cannon, that has a water body for the firing guy to run and hide his ears to escape the sound of cannon fire. The caretaker of this place is a ex-military man, who insists on telling the history behind this place – which is very informative. Apparently this place was a gift by the King to one of his queens.
Asar Mahal – is a garden and unfinished kind of building, an auto guy duped us by saying it was Sangeeth Mahal.
We were recommended Sangeeth Mahal by the Hotel guy, who insisted it was 8 kms away outside town. However, girls were almost disinterested to even argue or find out about it from anyone, so we allowed a Auto guy to fool us by driving into a near by lane to a mundane kind of heritage building. Yes, I’m not very proud of us.
[I will update pics of all these places soon]

Commute in Bijapur:
There are close to no options to commute in Bijapur, and locals are more misguiding than helpful. Auto guys like Bangalore ones don’t know the localities much. It will be better to take maps with you, coz google just does not work in Bijapur yet. You must ask atleast 10 people to confirm something, because the town is full ignorant idiots who have no clue where they live and what is around them. In case you are traveling with a bunch of idiots, you are in deep shit then 😛

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