Badami Fort is spread over the hills in two parts, North and South, with the Agasthya Teertha in between. I had explored the Northern fort two times, according to a source Tipu Sultan's treasury was housed here. I had seen Southern fort long time back... during my first visit, early 80s. I cannot remember much except climbing the crazily narrow, high and steep steps. During my second visit late 90s I was disappointed to see the doorway locked. Guides told that a tourist had a fatal accident on the steps. And I ended up seeing this view during four visits.
I was determined to go up and see the fort. There has to be another way, it's such a big hill. I checked Google Maps and found a way but decided to check with locals is if anyone could guide me up.
View of both Northern and Southern parts of Badami fort.
Closer look at North fort.
The South fort- my destination.
We had reached Badami Caves by 7-15. We inquired one of the locals about the way up and a guide. Fortunately the person was encouraging... said it's not difficult to reach up, you can go on your own but would be better to take someone who nows the way around. I opted for the latter option. Soon we were introduced to a lady who in turn found the guide- Avanesh. I was skeptical if I would get along with Avanesh, he had a frown and he had woken up after a late night celebrating India's victory in the World Cup Cricket. Never mind...
Avanesh lead and I followed... first couple minutes the path was filty. Then it was fine but I got stuck at a bend, a very tricky crossing. The part of the rock had neither proper foot hold nor hand hold. To add to my dilemma, rock was slippery and a fall will end 10 feet below on a bed of thorns- Peek-Jaali-Mullu. Actually this path is often used by locals regularly and Avanesh just went around the bend as though he walked on plain land. I made Avanesh demonstrate three times and I was successful the third time. I asked him if any more circus ahead. No. The path ahead was through a cleft in the rock hill, climb was steep, over mounds of stones, had to step carefully. We might have climbed less than 10 minutes, we reached the top and the fort was in view.
Masons who built forts like this one must have been real brave characters.
The first cave is right below this wall.
The lonely cannon. You can see it's nose from down below.
Way to the steps leading down to the caves. Note how steep and narrow the stairway is. I wanted to go closer but Peek-Jaali-Mullu blocked my path. In fact the entire fort is littered with thorns. If not for the villagers gathering them, the place would be out of bounds.
The walls are well preserved but nothing inside them is left standing. to the left you can ruins... of a small palace?
Looks like a doorway to a royal home.
This part of the fort is built on the edge of a sheer cliff, two or three bastions and walls.
We were done and ready to head down. I asked Avanesh if there's anything else to see. Do you want to see old images? Yes! I imagined seeing some pre-historic paintings. Again, Avanesh lead and I followed. The view from above was great. Sun was bright but the breeze cooled me. 500m further rocks had strange shapes like inverted ice-cream bowls.
During rainy season a stream would be flowing very close where we are now. The stream would dive down the hill and flow into Agastya Threertha. The place would be stunning during rainy season.
Probably the biggest ice-cream bowl.
We must have walked a kilometer to reach this little cave temple with a neat row of standing figures, an inscription in Devanagari script, a pond of it's own and a small room. I asked for the name, Avanesh told and I forgot to make a note of it... some Theertha.
Part of the pond. Water was pretty clean but plastic a dozen bags floated in it.
Row of standing figures.
The largest figure. Is that Suryadeva? If you look below, it looks like a chariot drawn by seven horses.
The inscription in Devanagari.
The place is great, one can sit and mediate without anyone to disturb.
We had go back, Praveen and Suresh Mama did not want to join me in the climb, they were waiting at the car park. And we had to go to Aihole, I wanted to spend few hours this time... last time it was a rush, hardly saw anything. We head back towards the fort.
White building standing on the horizon are ruins of Badami Sugar Factory.
The climb down was not very difficult... only I had to choose firm stones to step on. Back at our tricky bend, I managed in one go. It was easier in this direction. I felt good. Finally I did see the fort. Thanks to Avanesh. We did get along fine :) There he is-
Later in the day, at Aihole, I learn about pre-historic rock paintings around Badami. I want to come back one day, get someone who's seen them and see them. Hope the day comes soon.
We head towards Banashankari.