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A Photographer’s Paradise – Organizers Trip to Badami!

To begin with, I'd say that some walks are just about…

…coming face-to-face with timeless beauty,
… watching the power of standing strong even in times of destruction,
…treading those roads which men of strength have walked, but are now, just in our hearts

     Well, I had been longing since a while – to have a peaceful walk straight down the Historical Heritages. And AihoLe (pronounce : ayi-Ho-Ley) / Badami was on the top of my List (mainly for Line number 3 mentioned above).  Hadn't shared this thought with anyone though (rather, left it on time to play it), but when one fine day, in between those tangled thread of mails (on Organizers' trip-locations), when I read : 'Location finalized to Badami' – I was like – woaaaah! Life does throw surprises at you…
Train journey: Gang-of-bhukkads
Golgumbaaz express: (16535) : A troupe of 10 bhukkads: Even before the introduction round (ow..we had 2 ex-organizers – Shruthi n Dinesh; and a new one – Raja - too!), we started the ritual of hogging (this time, with a break of 5-minutes after finishing each snack – that went on for an hour and a half, until it was time for dinner). Chaitanya and Shubhroto tried playing the 'gentlemen' initially (by pretending as if they weren't a part of us, the gluttons); but later gave up. Shubhroto joined openly by confessing  – 'I was not hungry, but after watching you guys I am also feeling like eating something'. While our silent-killer Chaits went a step ahead by quietly snatching the popcorn pack from my hand; when Hiren & I were busy digging into chips.
The night went by – with the game of UNO (that awakened the strategist out of Subbu, and the Babaji out of Hiren); and then some gossips – and finally we wished each other a Good night and slipped into our dreamworld…

Day 1: Pattadakallu, AihoLe:

     Our Day 1 trip started with settling down at a lodge in Badami (we had planned caves visit for Day 2). After a quick refreshment and breakfast, we started out in the auto that Chaits n Channa had hired for the day. First destination was the Banashankari Temple. This temple's existence is dated back to 7th Century AD, and is an abode to a form of the 'Goddess of Forest'. After finishing our 'darshan' and a brief photo session near a lake opposite to our temple, we headed out for our next destination, in the same auto. Our Biker guy Subbu seemed so overwhelmed with the temple darshan, that he could not stop asking for his 'Arati', 'Aradhana', 'Pooja' and finally 'Prarthana' throughout our travel to the next destination. The next visit was to an Ashrama.

     The village of Badami, in itself turned out to be a mesmerizing place. When you are travelling from one sight-seeing spot to another, it gives you a feel as if you yourself have entered inside some scenic artwork [reminded me of the regular sceneries we used to paint in school days – with hills, birds flying across the hills, bore wells, women carrying piles of hay (jowar in real), and squirrels and trees around :P].

     Our next visit was at an Ashrama near Banashankari temple. This had a Maharatha – that is built splendidly; and a Samadhi of a Jain priest of those ages. Another round of randomn photography and amazing comments at the Trucks-with-dhinkchak-music-systems; we headed out for Pattadakallu. And Our Real Trip began…

…And our photographers got equipped with their DSLR's and tripods.

Pattadakallu – This place has a group of quaint temple monuments built during the Chalukyan ages – the main gopuras of which have been strategically destroyed in wars. It also has a number shrines of Shivalingas – each having a nandi facing it – again heads of which have been destroyed. Despite the destructions, the place offered picturesque display of the intricately designed structures, murals and sculptures carved on the columns and walls – that have still stood strong and still stay beautiful. These are basically craft-works on tales picked from Hindu mythology (some of which are known – loads of which are lost down the ages). Pattadakallu is listed as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

     While the photographers got busy capturing shots; I had a nice time looking around and feeling amazed at the fact that I was face-to-face with something that was existing even centuries ago – timelessness! [Sculptures, Ancient architecture, Mythology and History had always been a fascination!]. We had loads of time to bask into the place, but suddenly our organizer Chaits started getting a bit restless. After spending sufficient time – we packed up to leave Pattadakallu – on instructions by a bit-restless Chaitanya (we later know why :P)

Banashankari Temple



Shiva temple - Pattadakallu Heritage site
     It was afternoon (close to 1:00pm). Our next spot was AihoLe. In the morning, it was decided that we would be skipping lunch; however our plans was suddenly changed by Chaits – reasons still unknown. We would be going to a dhaba nearby AihoLe for lunch and then visit the Heritage site.  Nevertheless, we agreed and continued our travel full-on fun with 'Ae-Raja'; Subrata-turned Shubhroto-turned Subbu-turnedSubbanna's quest for his Prarthana (phew!); some leg pulling session to Shruthi and so on and so forth. We took 2 tables and ordered dry and soft jowar rottis (speciality of the place); along with some other dishes. While we were waiting for the food to arrive and casually chit-chatting; the sound of a very familiar bike caught our attention – and Lo! Here arrives Captain Virander proudly in his Harley, along with  Deepthy. 

     We howled and clapped at the surprise entry (and now understood all that restlessness and sudden-plan-changes made by Chaitanya – hummm..so he was aware of if, and was co-ordinating secretly with him all this while). With the two joining us, there was no derth of the already fun-environment (just that there were more number of PJs now :P). We were still waiting for our food, when again Captain Viru surprised me by handing over the BTC pull over that I had ordered. [Well, this was again a surprise because of the confusion that I had created, over my pullover's delivery; in the group chat the previous evening. Chaits had forgotten to get it, and poor Viru had to bear the consequences : of dramatically riding all the way  some 500 kms on his Harley and delivering it :P]

     Post lunch – we headed out for AihoLe. And it started pouring heavily. After an hour's wait inside a lone temple right opposite to our destination spot; we entered the temple complex when the downpour reduced a bit. This place, again, had a group of temples built in Chalukyan era; with Inscriptions and sculptures of the Mythological tales. Inside the same complex, we made a visit to the museum that have preserved some of the sculptures of gods and goddesses; and provides information on the excavated site.

AihoLe excavated site

The sculpted columns.

     It started to rain again. The heavy downpour did not show any signs of stopping or slowing down since then; hence we cancelled our further visit plans (that was a bit of disappointment to our photographers) – and decided to get back to our lodge at Badami – now some 30 kms away.  The journey on the way turned out to be out-and-out hilarious: the take-of-the-hour being 'the cover' comment that Ritu had made on me! [Hiren and Raja couldnot control falling and laughing about it!]
After returning to our lodge, we refreshed ourselves; had dinner; and then gathered to play our savior game of UNO. And with the game – all the true colors of the group appeared :P. Chaitanya's conspiracy to corner me in the game (I had to ensure I did not sit beside him in future rounds :P); our Advocate Shruthi madam's Liar'ing; Channa and Shubhroto – the strategists (read cheaters); and Hiren's Babaji avatar with his rut 'Bhagwan sabka hota hai'  - all this ensured the fun was on till the end. After pathetically losing all the rounds of the game, I finally won one last round – and then we all decided to crash down our respective beds; and get prepared for the next day's trip.

Day 2: Badami Caves:

     Day 2 was quite a dry and sunny day. It again, began our day with breakfast'n'chai – and then a walk up to the Badami Fort. Our BTC cameramen and women were all in action again with full enthu. Hard core climber Hiren now was little happy that he got to 'Climb' at least somewhere :P The Badami hill is an absolutely stunning region to tread into! What makes the place more beautiful is the red soiled region that makes the entire region naturally colored and attractive. 

     I immediately immersed myself into the ambience of the place – my thoughts revolved around a lot of things, as I made my way peacefully through the alleys and steps: people, human efforts, Nature's way of showing us examples of strength etc etc. With not much public around, we had a great time admiring the grandeur work; and also cracking stupid jokes; clicking loads of pictures and having fun. Ritz and I started ourpunar-janmon ki katha related to the place, when Shruthi and Viru suddenly realized that they too had been with us in that previous birth (yeah..so some of us BTCians are previous-birth-se-mile-hue jaani dushman hain :P)! The view from the top was vividly attractive; as we could see the entire Bhootnath Cave temple (our next destination) from the top. Our photographers continued hopping and clicking pics (when some of us non-photographers happily posed for them along with the sculptures :P)

The elegant Badami Fort

Walking into the alley  between the fort rocks

Some of  the BTC Marvels - on top of the marvels of Badami :P

Bhootnath Cave Temples:

     Located right opposite to the fort, the Bhootnath Cave temple is a perfect epitome of Beauty. Some of our guys – Channa, Hiren and Viru chose to take a dive in the lake, before heading out towards the caves. This is a group of 4 caves, each having a sanctum sanctorum, a mandapa, a verandah and pillars. The cave temples also bear exquisite carvings, sculptures and beautiful murals – a perfect treat for the lenses of both -  photographers' and story-seekers like me J

     The walk specifically to this cave temple felt peaceful and soothing – I could not believe I was actually right here – to one of my dream destinations (that was still - just with me!) To add to the feeling was the magnificent surrounding that we couldn't stop appreciating. Our photographers went zoom with their Visual talents, capturing all that they could out of the place. We spent a couple of hours soaking into these marvels; and it was time for us to push off for lunch.
Bhootnath temple

Inside Badami cave temple

  Walked down a hotel for lunch, again had a blast of fun-round with the group – sharing previous trek stories, cracking some doubly-meaningful jokes,  and digging into each others' plates. Back there in our room at the lodge, we did our final packing (some of the folks rested in the time that was left, and the rest again tuned into the game of UNO). Had a small meeting where we discussed stuff, and then headed out for our return journey, calling it a peaceful-weekend-Getaway. So, if you are someone who loves to bask into timeless pieces of beauty, or a passionate Photographer - AihoLe / Badami / Pattadakallu ought to be in your 'must-visit' list - and your quest for that peace and creative urges will certainly be fulfilled ;) :P

     Well, the entire trip was fully-loaded with surprises, yet again fun with people; while accomplishing my personal quest. In the end it was just a : 'some-things-just-happen-perfectly-for-you'...Finding all that we were seeking out of the trip, and loads of memories; we bid each other adieu and continued with our tasks on Monday morning...

Some of the after-effects of the trip:
1. Shubhroto is still addicted to the 'sounds like' rule of Dumb charades.
2.  Hiren & Raja still imagine things when they think of the 'cover' story and burst out..
3. Photographers: Channa, Ritz, Chaitanya still admire their photographic skills; and are making plans for the next appetite for their creative juices..
4.   Dinesh is still waiting with his 'Application-pending' status :P [would not like to mention anything further for 'peace' sake :P]

       Ahh..yes…and adding to my souvenir collection (be it from our History-making 2-day WOW trip; or the unexpected events at this Badami trip) -  my BTC pullover's gonna bear the special stamp of this : 'Delivered via Harley Davidson courier services: C & V'… ;)

A traveller...

Theme song of the trip: With no doubt, a beautiful number by my icon Dr. Rajkumar - 'huttidare...' that talks of these marvels of Karnataka :)
Written By    : Swathi Iyer
Main Blog      : Out of Box
Organized By : Chaitanya Kumar Adusumilli
Date of event: 27th & 28th Sept
Place            : Badami
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