On a monument trail in North Karnataka

July 12 - 17, 2016

The temples of North Karnataka have a unique place in the annals of Indian history and represent some of the finest intricate architecture in peninsular India. So here I am having signed up with Doe's Ecotours and the enthusiastic and knowledgeable Doreen to go back in time and to the history books. it is no coincidence that I am also going to review the book "India: A History" by John Keay that covers the 4000 year old history of the Indian sub-continent. So out come my Hampi guide books published by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI).. ASI has been publishing these guides for all the UNESCO World heritage Sites in India. These very well brought out handy booklets are a must have and must read as preparatory work before visiting monuments that are replete with history - and they make a good and attractive addition the the library too!

So here we are meeting at Sholapur where my friend Sanjeevani and I are staying for two days visiting the Nanaj Bustard Sanctuary and a few monuments around Sholapur before our enthusiastic group joins us on Day 1

As always on such trips, the excitement and enthusiasm is always palpable. Catching up with old friends and introducing ourselves to new friends and after  breakfast, get into our vehicles for the long drive to Bijapur - our first destination.

The tour covers the following

  1. Bijapur - page 1
  2. Badami, Bhootnath, Banashankari and Mahakuteshwar - page 1
  3. Pattadakal, Aihole Page 2
  4. Hampi with a visit to Daroji bear Sanctuary thrown in - Page 2
  5. Lakkundi page 3
As the blog spreads over 3 pages, pls click on "Older post" tab when you come to the bottom of the page


One of the most iconic structures of Bijapur is the famed Gol Gumbaz. This town was the former capital of the Adil Shahi dynasty (1489-1686). The monuments represent some of the finest examples of Indo-Islamic architecture in the Deccan.

Gol Gumbaz built AD 1659 is the mausoleum of Muhammed Adil Shah. This impressive structure houses the world's second largest dome that is unsupported by pillars and considered an accoustic and architectural wonder.
An interesting Museum

Gol Gumbas

One of the four 7 storied Octagonal  spires

the inner Mausoleum

Views of the Jama Masjid -  the largest and oldest mosque of Bijapur

The Central Mihrab (Alcove) adorned with lines  in gold from the holy Quran

Jala manzil  intended as a reservoir. Unfortunately, the place needs to be maintained in a better way!

Ibrahim Rouza really caught my fancy!. I could  spend hours seeing and photographing the intricate motifs and calligraphy. It is believed that this monument inspired the makers of the Taj Mahal of Agra

the magnificent dome

interesting Calligraphy

Panoramic view of the Ibrahim Rouza

Ornate door to th mausoleum

Malik -e-maidan contains the 55 ton canon perched on a platform. Seen from above, its fron resembles the head of Lion trying to devour an elephant

Bara Kaman - the incomplete mausoleum of Ali Adil Shah II (1656- 72)

Gagan Mahal built around AD 1561 was the royal residence and durbar hall.

Bhoothnath, Badami, Mahakuteshwar and Banashankari

This quaint little town has a small railway station! It was the capital of the early Chalukya dynasty (A.D. 540-756) and is famous for its cave temples hewn out of  sandstone on the precipice of a hill. The name badami means almond colour which is the colour of the rocks in the area. The first 2 caves are Shiva temples, the third is a Vishnu Temple while the fourth is a Jain Temple. Some exquisite and intricate carving is to be found here

View of the Bhoothnath Temple from Cave 2

entrance to the cave

Jambulinga Temple dates back to 699 A.D.

Our guide gives us a Natraja pose

A fort on top of the hill built by Tipu sultan

Bhoothnath temple reached after a short walk from the caves is a scenic spot situated beside a small pnnd

A small but well curated museum near the Bhoothnath temple contains interesting relics of the Chalukya dynasty and is a good orientation to the structural and material heritage of the region.

Mahakuteshwar - a scenic 12 km drive brings one to the a temple neatly tucked away amidst rolling hills. It is time for the daily Arti (a Hindu devotional song sung in temples around 7 pm.). This is a Shiva temple which has a pond created by a natural spring. there are nearly 15 small shrines in the courtyard. The serene and peaceful atmosphere coupled with some beautiful medieval architecture  made this visit really memorable.

Above and below - one of the many small temples/shrines in the area

Banashankari temple is dedicated to the Godess of the same name. this is one of the most ancient temples of Karnataka.  A long winded line of devotees brought us to the inner sanctum sanctorium for getting darshan (viewing) of the Goddess. 
The photos below are of the exterior as no photography is permitted inside

a large chariot greets you as you alight at the parking lot

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