The Living Temples of Mahakuta, Karnataka

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. Mahakuta Temple Complex BadamiA little ahead was the Mahamukuteshwar Temple where Lord Shiva is worshiped regularly. It is easily recognizable from the white paint on the tiered tower.Mahakuta Temple Complex BadamiAs 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.Mahakuta Temple Complex BadamiThere 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. Mahakuta Temple Complex BadamiI 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.Mahakuta Temple Complex BadamiMahakuta Temple Complex BadamiSome of them had detailed wall inscriptions about the prevailing deities then and nowMahakuta Temple Complex Badamiand the smaller ones had Shiva Lingas and a majestic NandiMahakuta Temple Complex BadamiThe 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.Mahakuta Temple Complex BadamiI 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 Temple Complex Badami

Travel Tip:

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.

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  2. One Day Trip to Bijapur
  3. Short Trek in Badami Fort

0 thoughts on “The Living Temples of Mahakuta, Karnataka

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          1. arv!

            Sangeeta, I think it’s a similar situation across the country! The sheer number of heritage sites we have is humongous! While Some popular places have been maintained well, rest is a different story. I find apathy even among the residents of the city/town when it comes to heritage. Many new temples have devotees jostling for darshan, while in heritage temples with beautiful architecture & history are devoid of devotees….it’s a paradox! I find that disturbing…specially the mindset of people! I’m sure you’ll have similar experience.

          2. Sangeeta Post author

            I agree, its all about marketing 🙂 Most People visiting heritage temples are least concerned about history. I was looking for a suitable guide in Mahakuta, there were none and I walked my way around dependent on Google. For some heritage is like ruins and they would rather go to that swanky marble one where a friend prayed and had wishes fulfilled 🙂 Ran into hordes of school children who were running wild, had no clue on history nor did the teacher accompanying, thankfully knew the name of the place. No guided tours, no maps, no brochures and the job of ASI ends in protecting and Tourism dept with a makeshift office with no one to man

          3. arv!

            I have been to places where it’s under government protection and in name of maintenance, they have painted entire wall which earlier adorned beautiful paintings because they don’t have funds or can’t find Painter or the official thought so… what a mockery!! In Europe heritage is big money -attracts tourist, out here we are sitting on gold mine but still can’t realize it in any way. I don’t feel happy about writing all this but this is sad truth. In response to these realities I started my blog -highlighting the heritage places especially the ones which are lesser known.

          4. Sangeeta Post author

            Same here !! Most of the wall carvings do not exist any longer. ASI has replaced with flat stones and the carvings are in some museum where you cannot photograph. We are not good at restoration since arts was never centre stage in new age economy

          5. arv!

            True sangeeta! I think when it comes to architecture and arts,India has suffered immensely due to colonial rule. we have lost it.. ..completely! We have come to opinion that only things that come from west are the best. it’s a shame!

          6. Sangeeta Post author

            Al lot has been plundered too by external invaders over the centuries which has left an irreversible mark. The irony is West is enamored about everything oriental and some of the best yoga teachers are in the west. I attended a Shiv Yog session with a lot of Indians, Russians and Germans. Guruji said that the Russians and Germans will be ahead of us in what he was teaching since they were here with unconditional surrender whereas we are somewhat doubtful. I feel sad that so much money is spent by the e commerce companies on giving discounts for purchases to people who already have (you and me included) which could have been utilized for education, arts, health and so much more

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