North Karnataka Heritage Trail - Day 3 - Badami, Pattadakal, Aihole

A five day car trip across North Karnataka exploring the ancient architectural wonders of Hampi, Badami, Patadkal, Aihole and Bijapur.

If you are an architecture and history buff, then this is the trip for you!!

We traveled across North Karnataka on a heritage trail end of last year in a 5 day trip including driving to and from Bangalore. Karnataka has been ruled by several powerful empires and each of these empires has left a mark on the architectural landscape of the state. From the intricate carving of 5th century temples to the giant domes of 17th century, North Karnataka has a lot to offer. So these holidays instead of visiting the tourist favorites of Bangalore-Mysore, take some time out to go see these ancient beauties.

 In our 5 day trip, we covered Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal, Aihole and Bijapur.

This trip is divided across 3 posts, so keep reading. Our itinerary was as follows:

Day 1 - Travel from Bangalore to Hosapete. Visit Anegundi.
Day 2 - Visit Hampi and TB Dam. Travel to Badami.
Day 3 - Visit Badami, Pattadakal and Aihole
Day 4 - Visit Bijapur
Day 5 - Travel back to Bangalore.

This post, details the Day 3.

Read about Days 1 and 2 in Hampi here.

Day 3:

After we covered the world famous ruins of Hampi, we moved on to visit the even older temples of the 4-8th century at Badami, Patadkal and Aihole. These temples are ancient and still so beautiful. I was as mesmerized as I was when we visited the Angkor Wat temple complex in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

After completing our site seeing in Hampi on Day 2, we proceeded towards Bagalkot in the evening. We had a late check-in at a hotel, but this ensured we could start day 3 early. We stayed in Bagalkot city as we couldn't find accommodation in Badami. We started out at around 8am from Bagalkot and had our breakfast in Badami. There are several Udupi restaurants in Badami that are open for breakfast.


Badami is a small town in North Karnataka famous for the set of cave temples. Four caves are carved out of the sandstone hill that surrounds lake Agastya. Badami Caves open at 9am and close at 6pm. The parking is pretty much a nightmare, as it involves going through a single lane road that is being operated as a two lane (for entering and exiting). During peak seasons, the parking gets full pretty fast, so we suggest reaching the caves as early as possible. You need to purchase a ticket for entry and for parking. Guides speaking Kannada and Hindi are available around the entrance to the caves. There was no bargaining with the price (we thought it was slightly steep), but we still hired a guide. The guide showed us some unique carvings and puzzles on the pillars that we may have missed, had we chosen not to hire him. You can combine groups on your own and share the price too.

Cave 1:

The first cave is dedicated to Lord Shiva. On the outside of the cave you will see a Nataraja Statue. On the inside, there is a carving of Ardhanarishvara and Harihara on the right and left sides on the cave respectively. There is a Shiva Linga in the temple, however, it is not worshiped as of today.

Cave 2 and 3:

The second and third caves are dedicated to Lord Vishnu. There is no deity in the temple, but the carvings in the cave indicate there was once a statue of Lord Vishnu. The third cave is the largest in the complex with several carvings and paintings. These two caves depict various scenes from mythology and show the different avatars of Lord Vishnu. There are carvings on the ceiling too.

Cave 4:

Probably the simplest of the 4 caves, this cave is dedicated to Jainism. It has the statues of Bahubali Mahavira and Parshvanatha.

Apart from the caves, you can also visit the Archaelogical Museum (closes at 5pm) on the other side of the lake. There are also two Bhootnath Temples along the lake, while the Yellamma temple is closer to the parking.


  • Be very careful of monkeys, they can snatch your food.
  • Parking is a nightmare, reach early to get a good parking. Caves open at 9am.
  • English and Hindi speaking guides are available near the entrance to the caves.
  • Plan to spend around 1-1.5 hours at the caves. 


Pattadakal is temple town with 7th and 8th century architecture. It is 23 km from Badami and it houses a huge temple complex with 9 Hindu temples and 1 Jain Temple. The Hindu temples are close by and the Jain temple is 1 km away towards Badami. The temples depict scenes from Ramayana, Mahabharata and other epics. The Virupaksha Temple in the complex is still worshiped till date while the others are not. 

The Pattadakal temples are open from 6am-6pm. You need to purchase a ticket to enter the temple complex. Parking is available outside the temple complex. 


  • Eat Joladda Rotti Oota or the local thali that has jowar rotis and curries just outside the temple complex. 
  • You can hire a guide at the entrance.
  • Plan to spend 1.5-2 hours here including time for lunch.


Aihole is around 10 km from Pattadakal and is the oldest temple town of the three. Aihole has several temple complexes spread out over the village. The village has more than 100 monuments. The temples in Aihole show that the architects tried different styles. There are temples which you cannot circumambulate (pradakshina) and some where you can. There are temples with gopuras and temples with a second storey. Some temples also have North Indian influences. 

There is parking outside the monument and you need to buy a ticket to visit the monuments. The temples are open from 6am to 6pm. 


  • There are lots of monuments beside the main Durga temple complex. If you have time, walk through them.
  • Aihole is a village and there are not many places to eat, so carry your own food.
  • You can hire a guide at the entrance.

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