Badami, in the Bagalokot district of Karnataka in South India, was once the capital of the Chalukyas who ruled over a large part of Karnataka from the 6th to 8th centuries. Founded by Pulakesi I in 540 A.D., Badami this interesting travel spot was known earlier as Vatapi. Legend has it that Vatapi was a demon who along with his brother Llvalan held sway over that region, killing passersby till he was killed by the sage Agastya. The land witnessed many struggles for power between the Chalukyas, the Pallavas of Tamilnadu, and the Rashtrakutas. Great patrons of art, architecture and literature, the Chalukya kings have left behind a veritable treasure house of historical monuments, rock temples, and sculptures. Their catholic vision and tolerance is evinced by the presence of Buddhist, Jain and Hindu shrines.
Badami is situated at the mouth of a sandstone ravine between two rocky hills which house the world famous rock-cut cave temples. These four temples, carved out of sandstone represent different religious sects. Two of the temples are dedicated to Lord Vishnu, one to Lord Shiva and the fourth is a Jain temple. The cave temples have exquisite carvings, sculptures and beautiful murals. The caves overlook a large lake which has on its eastern side, the Bhuthanatha temples and the Archeological museum on the north-western side. The Badami Fort which is situated on top of the hill houses large granaries and a treasury. The Malegetti Temple dedicated to Shiva is another place well worth a visit. From Badami, one can travel to historically important places like Aihole and Pattadakal.
To the west of Badami lies Aihole which used to be the regional capital of the Chalukyan kings between the 4th and 6th centuries. Pattadakal which is 20kms away from Badami was once the second most important city of the Chalukyas, used mainly for coronations. The ruins at Pattadakal date from the 4th century to the 9th. Situated on the banks of the river Malaprahba, Pattadakal, is now a world heritage site. . Both Aihole and Pattadakal are interesting sites which reveal the development of temple architecture in the South Badami and its environs bring back to mind the lost glory of the Chalukya rule.