May 5, 2017 by
Time is history when we travel back and admire its ruins. I went on a journey, into the celebrated golden age in the history of Karnataka. I am glad to take you in this time travel, where we witness the roots of unparalleled art and architecture in Karnataka. With the patriotic spirits of Independence Day, me and my family had decided to explore the hidden masterpieces of ancient time in our country. We started out the previous day on wheels, crossing about five districts in the western direction from Bangalore. Witnessing the change in weather conditions, culture and people, we ate different food in different places. The change in earth from Bangalore to Bagalkot district was beautiful. The ever changing rains added rainbows to our memories and sometimes mud to our car. Thus we started our journey into the glorious capital of the ancient Chalukya dynasty.
Badami is formerly known as Vataapi Badami, the capital of Chalukya Dynasty, which ruled much of Karnataka from the 6th to the 8th century. We arrived at these caves in the morning when the sun was just getting ready to scorch on us. The first experience I felt at the sight of these orange caves, was enormity despite a long distance. It was a long complex of caves on one side and an artificial lake on the west side. When we started ascending into the caves, I realised that the sandstone rocks were drilled from underneath to form these caves. The entrances to these caves are balanced with pillars which hold the entire load of the cave. The science and the precision behind this architectural achievement are unfathomable with the advancements of that age unlike in our age. These temples are a mixture of Hindu, Jain and some of Buddhist culture. The intricate and beautiful carvings in these temples have paved way for the other great architectures in Karnataka. The sculptures of the gods are greater than live sizes, giving an appeal of divinity. The magnificent sculpture of Nataraja, the fiercely dancing Shiva, is the perfect example of divine imagination. It is about five feet tall and has about 18 hands showing different weapons and different hand styles of dance. It appears like the sandstone has come alive in a beautiful dance, along with Ganesha and other gods accompanying it. Similarly there is a Vishnu idol, sitting in on the serpent, Shesha making it Sheshashayana. The peace behind the closed eyes of the sculpture inspires us to close our eyes and see the silence. The orange colored sandstone has bloomed into life with many gods of greatness. As we ascend upper into other caves, there is a scenic beauty of the tranquil lake that was created artificially. As we move along the caves we could see a change in the religion and the gods. This cave complex shows a culmination of one god under different names. The Jain Tirthankaras are absorbed in meditation reflecting the penance of ancient times. At some places we got to see some paint on the sculptures, which has mostly been washed away. I was surprised by the time that had slipped away because for every minute there is a story which gets revealed all over these caves. For the ones who have seen Hampi and other great Dravidian architecture, it can be easily understood that these are the main roots which have spread all over Karnataka. I was standing in the cradle of South Indian temple architecture, which later gave birth to awe striking art of the temples in South India.
After filling our eyes with exquisite art, we proceeded in filling our stomach. After a decent meal we set out to Pattadkal, travelling about 20 kilometers for about half hour. It was almost approaching evening when we had reached there. I have to say, that evening is the best time to see this place. The entire complex of temples was lit up in sunlight. It was as if the temples were mixes with gold powder. It was a perfect picture of paradise. The history says that Pattadkal was also known as Raktapura (Red city) which may have been due to the mountains nearby. I think I understood or rather saw this reference pretty beautifully. The architecture in Pattadkal is little more advanced than in the caves. It appeared as if the carvings of Badami caves were more perfected. Here also it is an amalgamation of both Hindu and Jain culture. The temples stand in both Dravidian and the north Indian Nagara style. The temples are adorned with stones that have come alive with mythological stories. We can even find stones with inscriptions engraved in old Kannada. It appears as if the stones have seen a lot of rains an sunrises. We should wonder what great stories they hold in, along this game of time. The largest temple amidst the group is the Virupaksha Temple, where the idol is kept alive with lamps and rituals. It is said that Pattadkal was the grand place of coronation for the kings of Chalukyan family. It really is a poetic justice for a king to wear his crown at a place filled with majesty and grandeur. As the sun started ascending, the guards in the temple complex started whistling to notify the closing time. We tried to photograph as much as possible both in our cameras and as well as in our hearts. This place really serves as a perfect inspiration to start new things in life. The splendid evening there germinates an everlasting hope in us to explore more in life. And hence travel more and more.
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