I had planned a day long trip in and around Badami and Mahakuta located 12 kms away was my first stop for the day. I had read a couple of blogs on Mahakuta and it seemed to be a quiet place apart from festival days. I did not anticipate being there for more than 15 minutes and as luck would have it, I ended up being there for an hour since it was indeed festival day. The temples are dated to 6th-7th century AD during the reign of the Chalukyas of Badami as per the inscriptions found on a Mahakuta Pillar in the complex which is now preserved in Bijapur museum. Presently, these are the only living temples presently among the ones built by the Chalukyas. The Mahakuta Temple complex has temples dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu.
As I entered, I found a narrow canal like stream flowing by in which men and women were taking a customary dip. There was a Ganesha Statue on the edge which people were praying to waist deep in water. Actually, standing in water does wonders to our energy field and overall well being. A little ahead was the Mahamukuteshwar Temple where Lord Shiva is worshiped regularly. It is easily recognizable from the white paint on the tiered tower.As I was walking in, I could hear loud screams of joy and equally loud sounds of splashing water around. I followed the sound to go past the Mallikarjuna Temple only to reach the Vishnu Pushkarini (tank) next to it, where boys and men were taking the customary ablution bath. A natural mountain spring flows through the temple complex that feeds fresh water into the Pushkarini continuously.There was pure joy around, as they scrambled on each other, made merry and reached out to the 5 faced Shiva Shrine in the middle of the pond. Apparently, there is a Shrine down below in the tank and one needs to have real breath control to reach that point. These boys were just competing with each other to reach the same. I had seen such joy in the ghats of Ganga in Varanasi. The atmosphere was electric and nothing could take me away from that moment, the sheer energy rubbing into my being, the simple happiness of life. I walked around towards the other temples which seemed to have become make shift changing rooms and retiring rooms for the day. The temples seem to have evolved their own style from Nagara (North Indian) and Dravidian (South Indian) style of architecture.Some of them had detailed wall inscriptions about the prevailing deities then and nowand the smaller ones had Shiva Lingas and a majestic NandiThe whole area has an ancient charm to it that transports you to another place as you walk through the hanging roots of the banyan trees that have seen centuries yawn by; the essence of mother earth, the continuous gurgling of water, the temple bells, incessant chatter of pilgrims and of course the flames of worship for the divine present the different dimensions of life.I sat around, observing, feeling, absorbing and then finally after a divine meal under a banyan tree which was as authentic as I would ever desire, I had to leave since I had lots to see ahead. My next stop Pattadakal was another 12 kms away and I chugged along in an auto over bumpy country roads greeting scores of pilgrims and bullock carts on the way.
Mahakuta is 12 kms away from Badami and is best visited as a part of the sightseeing circuit around Badami. Base yourself in Badami where there are hotels to suit every budget located in and around the Badami Bus Stand.
Badami is connected by rail and there are trains from Bangalore, Hubli, Bijapur every day. It is about a 12-13 hour journey from Bangalore. You can plan a day trip to Badami if you are planning to visit Hampi and station yourself there for a few days.