Ultimate Guide To Badami Pattadakal Aihole
Badami is Karnataka’s favourite weekend destination when it comes to history and architecture. And it gets even better when combined with Pattadakal and Aihole. But what are these places all about? Is it really as beautiful as they all say it is? We show you some glimpses of the the ancient towns which now stand as UNESCO World Heritage sites!
You’ll find everything you need to know to plan a trip to Badami Pattadakal and Aihole in Karnataka in this blog post. This guide contains details on what to see in the three cities and where to stay, where to eat in Badami and getting to Pattadakal and Aihole, and so much more! We’ve also put together the ideal itinerary for whether you spend one day or two to explore the sites.
Our experience of visiting Badami Pattadakal Aihole
We loved exploring Badami over a full day. It is rightly considered as Karnataka‘s most popular monument after Hampi! In contrast, we loved Pattadakal and Aihole even more because of the fewer crowds and more intricate details in the design. Above all, our favourite part of the trip was the traditional food at a Khanavali in Badami.
We visited the monuments eagerly in the mornings and escaped the crowds. We absolutely loved climbing the Shivalaya hills. In fact, it became one of the best experiences we had in Badami. We found it to be very similar to the canyons in Petra, Jordan. Our afternoons were mostly spent indoors, either at the hotel or at the museum. Although we drove there on our own, we learnt how easy it is with public transport too. Therefore, we’ve put together this little easy-to-use guide to tour Badami Pattadakal and Aihole in Karnataka. Check it out!
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Badami and the Cave Temples
Badami is Karnataka’s most famous heritage site after Hampi. In fact it is a UNESCO World Heritage site because of the large treasure trove of architectural wealth the Chalukya dynasty left behind. Although built in the sixth century, the Badami cave temples have been maintained quite well. You can find many murals, sculptures and inscriptions in the four caves even today.
In addition to the Badami caves, there is the Agastya lake and Bhootanatha temple complex! On the north side of the lake, you can hike through a canyon to the top of the hill. There are two shrines called the Shivalaya temples atop the hill.
Apart from these monuments, you can also visit the nearby Mahakuta temples and Banashankari village. Badami is a town, so you will also find great restaurants to feast on local dishes. Most of Badami’s monuments are within walking distance from the main road where hotels are located.
The tickets for the Badami cave temples and the museum are available at ASI kiosk near the foot hills. The gates open at 6 am and crowds swell through the day after 8 am. You can also get the tickets at a discount if you buy online by scanning the QR code at the kiosk. Tickets cost under INR 30 per person.
Tip: There are many monkeys in Badami. Avoid carrying food and loose items into the complex.
The group of temples in Pattadakal are also part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are ten temples situated within the complex with many smaller shrines around. Pattadakal literally means ‘jewels of the crown’ and it is an apt name because of how beautiful each temple is. They were built during the Chalukya dynasty and feature north Indian architecture and classic dravidian styles too!
The temple complex is located on the west bank of the Malaprabha river. The sprawling gardens and sandstone structures merge well to form a very beautiful scene. As a result, you will especially enjoy a visit in the early mornings!
You might spend up to two hours in Pattadakal because of the large area to cover. However, the ASI office has made good pathways and even provides a golf cart to ferry visitors. In addition, discounted tickets are available online if you scan the QR code at the entry kiosk. Tickets cost under INR 30 per person.
Tip: We recomment visiting Pattadakal around 7 am in the morning to enjoy the serenity of the place as well as to avoid the crowds.
Aihole, an ancient temple town
As the third destination in this cultural triangle, Aihole is also the least visited. It is smaller as well, but features very unique Hindu and Jain temples. One such temple is the Vishnu temple which is often mistakenly called the ‘Durga temple’. It has curved walls unlike the usual architectural trends of its time. There are a few other temples in the Aihole complex. However, many more smaller shrines and royal structures lay scattered around the Aihole village.
You can buy etickets here as well. In addition, guide services can be availed for as little as INR 250 (USD 3.5) at the entry gates.
Other places to visit near Badami Pattadakal and Aihole
Badami is close to Vijayapura and Gadag. These two large cities have many interesting sites and attractions of their own. In addition, Kudala Sangama is a very popular and holy place which is just over an hour away from Badami.
The Almatti dam was built over the Krishna river a few kilometers northward. It features sprawling gardens and a small musical fountain show in the Japanese gardens. There is a powerful hydroelectric station at the dam.
If you head south from Badami, you can visit Chitradurga and Davangere.
Best itinerary for visiting Badami Pattadakal Aihole
Badami Pattadakal and Aihole are very close to eachother. Therefore, it is easy to visit them all in one day. However, we recommend visiting these places over two days to soak int he experience better. As a result, we have made two itineraries here:
Itinerary for two days:
- Start day 1 with a visit to Badami Cave temples by 8 am.
- After that, visit the Bhootanatha temple and Lake Agastya.
- Have lunch in Badami town and rest in the hotel room to beat the heat.
- Head to the ASI museum after 4 pm. Then take the canyon hike route upto the Shivalaya temples for sunset.
- Dine at Lingayat Khanavali near the Badami KSRTC bus stand.
- Start day 2 with a visit to Pattadakal by 8 am. You can have breakfast at Hotel Udupi Anand in Badami; options are very limited in Pattadakal.
- After that, visit Aihole and spend your time exploring the complex.
Itinerary for one day:
- Visit Pattadakal and Aihole in the morning. You may spend about three hours in total and another hour for commuting between them and Badami.
- Explore Badami cave temples and the lake.
- After lunch at Lingayat Khanavali, head back to the ASI museum.
- Finish the day with a hike to the Shivalaya temples.
Stay, food, transport, weather and budget in Badami Pattadakal Aihole
Badami has many small hotels and budget lodges. There are no accomodations in the other two towns. In addition, not all are available via online booking. You can find some of them here though. We stayed at Hotel Mookambika Deluxe on the main road of the city. It was a 15 minute walk to the Badami Caves and close to many small restaurants and street food joints! We paid INR 1,100 for a budget room with fan. It had parking space too.
Budget and costs: Food is reasonably priced in the town. Expect to pay INR 30 for a plate of Idlis, INR 50 for a dosa, INR 40 for fresh Orange juice. Expect to pay about INR 80 for north Indian dishes and full meals. However, there are many small street food stalls in and around the major tourist attractions. Street food is generally safe to consume. In addition, fresh coconut water costs about INR 40.
Must eat: Jowar Roti meals at Lingayat Khanavali and Girmit!
Badami to Pattadakal or Aihole (local transport)
Badami is small and most monuments are within walking distance. We recommend walking unless you have your own vehicle. You will need a vehicle to get to Pattadakal and Aihole. There are many shared autos and minivans that ferry tourists and locals. A private auto for the day will cost around INR 1,000 (USD 13) and seats between three and five people. Shared transport costs as little as INR 50 per journey.
Weather is hot and dry like any other north Karnataka town. However, it gets cooler in the winter months. Therefore, we feel that its best to visit Badami between November and February. It is unbearably hot in summer months (March to August) and not a good time to visit. The Akka Thangi waterfalls appear only in the monsoon months.
Tip: Dress modestly to respect conservative local beliefs and traditions. Wear cotton clothing to beat the hot weather. Carry an additional layer for evening chills.
How to get to Badami Pattadakal Aihole
Badami is very well connected with many major cities in Karnataka and in South India. There are daily buses from Bangalore, Hyderabad and even Mumbai. Badami also has a train station and overnight trains ply from Bangalore and Mumbai. Overnight luxury buses operate as well. The nearest airport is in Belgaum.
Love road tripping? Check this list of weekend getaways from Bangalore
Karnataka is indeed a very beautiful part of India! It is very popular for its greenery and architecture from the yesteryears. In fact, it is our home state and we’ve explored a few other places which you might just find just as appealing to explore! Check it out here.
If you have more questions or want to explore Badami Pattadakal and Aihole with us, please write to us – we’d be very happy to help!
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Shishira & Navneeth