Mar 17, 2012

Sidlaphadi Caves

Aug 14, 2010. My first attempt to reach Sidlaphadi was aborted in two minutes. I decided the path was too rough to be walked on with sandals, for a four kilometer trek through rough terrain we need shoes. More over it was late to start the trek and I had no idea how to reach it. Few locals hanging around did not show any signs of helping us.

First week December 2011 I had my plan ready. I had checked the route in Google Maps and had a print out. I decided to stay overnight at Badami so that I can start the trek early. Dr.Umesh had introduced his school time friend Ranganath, a resident of Badami. If possible he would join me for the trek to Sidlaphadi. I would be staying at Ranganath's place.

Dec 16, 2011. I left Pattadakal by 6-30 and arrived at Badami by 7-45. Finding Ranganath's place was easy. I freshened up and as we chatted his colleague & friend Dhariappa Dharegonnanavar arrived. We went to KSTDC for dinner, food was good. I would have preferred a khanavali, we would have had better food at lesser cost. Back home it was decided that Dhariappa would accompany me for the trek. Though I was tired and not a single mosquito buzzing into my ears, I did not sleep well.

Dec 17, 2011. Woke up early. After cold bath I was fresh and felt energetic. As soon as Dhariappa was ready we took off. On Badami-Guledgudda road, just after hotel Badami Court is Konamma temple, I parked my car under a tamarind tree within the temple compound. Just across the road is the path to Sidlaphadi. It was 6-30. By the way I was in hawai-chappals :) somehow they seem to work well for me.

The uphill path was rough, scattered with rocks of various sizes. After a minute or so we were an even surface though a rough one. The stones were packed with cement, this looked like a foundation for a proper road this is road project was abandoned for some reason. Tire marks and displaced stones told us that loaded tractors plied this path often. We spoke of agriculture, IT and tourism.

Soon we were looking up at a cell phone tower- that's an important landmark. Dhariappa is facing we should be taking.

Silhouette of a rock overhang. A wikimapia user had marked this as Sidlaphadi. This spot is just 1.25km from the main road.

Happy with the progress we trekked on. After the sharp left and sharp right turns near the tower, the path was more or less straight and level. We could see evidence of quarrying on these hills. Not long back what were beautiful rock formations are now broken up and look like sour wounds. The path we trekked on had a layer of fine red dust- that means regular vehicular traffic.

Around 7-15 I felt we were close to our destination. The path turned right and shrubs straight ahead looked as though there no path ahead. The map confirmed there's no right turn here, so we went straight ahead and then a left turn and there it is.

I was ecstatic to be so close to this cave which was home to humans tens of thousands of years ago. We had to climb down into a shallow, narrow valley. If not for bird songs and leaves rustling the place would be totally silent. I was trying to imagine this place ages ago.

Google Map screen-shot

A - Sidlaphadi
B - small cave
C - cave with a window
D - cave 10 feet above ground level

At the cave entrance. The cave resembles a single arch bridge. The roof has three holes. Scientific research says these holes are cased by erosion. Local legend says they were caused by a lightning hence the name Sidla-phadi.

Length could be 50 feet and depth could be 30 feet. Height of the roof at its maximum could be 15 feet.

We spend few minutes in the cave and go out to the other side. It's a small open field with small trees and thorny bushes. People from surrounding villages come here to gather firewood. That's the reason the cave and its surroundings are free of bushes.

We discover this little cave, marked B in the screen-shot. Dhariappa called it a single room cave. This little cave has a small inner chamber which could be used to store food. Another extension to the left can be also be seen.

The level field ends here and a slope rolls down into a wide valley. Close to this point is another cave.

Cave with a window, marked C in the screen-shot. This cave reminds me of Phantom's Skull Cave eyed skull cave. Its quite spacious inside. Close to this cave I found an interesting plant- entire plant has dried with flowers on it.

We go up to explore the cave top. We avoided stepping close to the edges. I feel long back the cave had much more interior space. Part of the roof might have collapsed. For instance, if you see the curved edge on the left, it might have been a straight line.

Holes in the roof.

A closer look. Notice the dry plant? It's stems are standing even when its dry. Proud little plant.

We discover another cave, marked D in the screen-shot.

This cave is a good 10 feet above ground level.

Other end of the valley. After a good downpour water would flow down in streams here.

Shadow on the left is Dhariappa's.

An inscription on the southern wall. I scanned the walls with a hope to see some paintings. No, nothing. Dhariappa pointed out to red colored shapes but they turned out to be stains of mud-water. An ASI book on Pattadakal refers to Sidlaphadi- Neolithic pottery, chert (a semi-precious stone) and microliths were found here. However there's no reference to pro-historic paintings of any sort.

From this angle I could cover half the cave. Try to imagine cavemen living here. Perhaps I should come here with a group of people & cavemen costumes and enact the scene.

Cave D as seen from ground level. To reach that cave we had to negotiate a steep rock face. I'm not going to try anything this time. The valley floor was sandy at places- that's proof for flowing water.

This unique rock formation reminds me of a portico.

Dhariappa found this unique stone and I kept it as a souvenir :)

 I wanted to be here some more time but Dhariappa had to be in the college by 10. Anyway, I had plans to visit again. Dhariappa ans I shook hand for successfully locating Sidlaphadi.

We walked back the way we came. We saw many such rock formations resembling an inverted icecream bowl. This one had a little cave it in, perhaps a fox hole.

Our breakfast was a pack of six Britannia oat cookies shared equally and little water. I'm not sure if it was oats that kept us charged. Our trek back was equally effortless.

Since we were familiar with the trial we took few short cuts. My feet had a thick coat of red soil. Luckily at the temple we could wash our feet and get into the car fairly clean. We went straight to Dhariappa's college on Badami-Banashankari road. It was 10 O' clock when I stopped near the diploma building.

Another place in Badmai on my wish list was Ranganatha temple. I wanted to finish it off before heading home.

Sidlaphadi Coordinates: 15°56'37"N 75°42'4"E



Teamgsquare said...

Nice to see this place . Last two times when i visited Badami somehow this place got slipped ..

Arun said...

Very interesting place indeed...India has got a lot of surprises..

siddeshwar said...

@ Team G Sqaure, Arun Sidlaphadi is one place really close to us where one travels back in time, a time when the world knew no boundaries.

I wish to visit Sidlaphadi again during and explore the surroundings. There would be at least one cave I might have missed.

Last week i had been to Koppal. Rocky hills of Koppal have rock overhangs under which our ancestors might have taken shelter.

Holalagoudar said...

Every year I visit Badami and it's really a shame that I never knew about Sidlaphadi.

Unknown said...

Truly amazing! I must appreciate your courage and adventures will to find out this cave. I have seen the model of it in ASI museum at BADAMI. Then and there i have felt an attraction to go there. I was in Badami to develop a tourist map. That why if I could add it to the tourist map then it would be interesting for common tourists. So in that will i searched it in google map and found. Next morning I started alone to find that. But after reaching the tower i lost my internet connectivity and became lost of roads. As a result effort gone in vein.
Your description tion is now a motivation to reach there after several years. Thank you. I must reach there this time.

siddeshwar said...

@Holalagoudar - hoping you got a chance to visit by now

@ - thank you, it was an awesome experience searching for the spot with a paper map. of course, Dhariappa was great company