Badami's ancient citadel

Miscellany

stairway to the top The famed Badami fort was built on a natural red  sandstone hill. photo D B N Murthy

A panoramic view of the Agasthya Lake, Badami caves, ruined temples, the town and plains can be had from the top of the fort. The design of the fort includes circular ramparts with observation posts. A canon is placed on one of the ramparts. A flagpole on top is meant to hoist the national flag on Republic Day and Independence Day.

Badami was also known as Vatapi and was the capital of Chalukyan Empire from the sixth to the eighth century AD. After the fall of the Chalukyan Empire, the Rashtrakutas, Vijayanagar rulers and lastly Tipu Sultan occupied Badami for its natural defences as well as for its beauty. All of them made the fort an important element in their defences by strengthening and adding features.

The path to the top of the fort leads through narrow passages flanked by huge layered red sandstone rocks. It is amazing how plants have sprung up even amidst rocks where there is a tiny quantity of soil for the roots to take firm grip. Along the path to the top is located an impressive archway on the doorframe of which intricate carvings are seen. As I came up the hill, I noticed a small temple at the edge of the fort. It is a beautifully designed temple, perhaps a Shivalaya, with decorative figures on the gopuram topped by a kalasa.

There is no deity inside. Red sandstone is used to build this temple. There are a few pillared structures and pavilions in various stages of decay on top of the fort. Stone blocks are used to complete the fort and fill up gaps in the rocks on the hill. Two dome-shaped stone structures with an opening for the entrance could have been a storage place for magazines or a defensive structure.

There are storage rooms for arms and ammunition. There are no houses or palaces on the fort, which means it was used only as the first line of defence of the capital city. The fort has several interesting structures like ramparts and observation posts that reveal the defense strategies of those who used it for defending their capital from enemy attacks.

A leisurely exploration of the fort while enjoying the natural beauty of the rocks is recommended. There are no facilities like canteen, shelter, and toilet and one should take water as it could be quite exhausting climbing and walking the steps to reach various scenic spots on the fort. However, visitors should take care to carry back any rubbish and not to litter. The fort is within walking distance from the town but taxis/auto-rickshaws could be hired to reach the entrance of the fort. There is no entry fee.

A few security persons are posted at the top of the fort to keep an eye on the visitors to prevent any untoward incident happening. What the visitor misses is a descriptive board highlighting the history and features of this magnificent fort that served several dynasties. A guide service would be welcome for those keen to know details of the fort.

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