In parts of north Karnataka, smaller sites of historical importance abound, most prominent of these being the Banashankari temple in Cholachagudd and the pilgrim site of Mahakuta, which are highly recommended for those with an extra day or two in Badami.



This little village, 5 km southeast of Badami on the way to Pattadakkal, gets its name from the temple consecrated to Banashankari, an incarnation of Parvati. Towards the left of the temple is a beautifully crafted pillared cloister that is built around the sacred tank called Haris chandra Tirth.

Two impressive lamps stand sentry on either side of the entrance. The fierce goddess was the kuldevi (clan goddess) of young Chalukya and Pallava women. The black idol in the sanctum has eight arms and rides a golden lion. Banashankari is worshipped here because she’s believed to have brought relief to the drought-afflicted region by turning her sweat into water. Come to see her during a jathra – when a 25-ft-high rath takes the goddess for an outing every January.


Mahakuta, on the way to Aihole, owes its pilgrimage status to Sage Agastya, who is believed to have spent some time here. The temple complex here houses ten Shiva temples, a Saraswati temple and according to local guides, a hundred thousand lingas!

Devotees taking a dip in the Vishnu Pushkarni tank, Mahakuta
Devotees taking a dip in the Vishnu Pushkarni tank, Mahakuta

The two main 7th-century temples, the Mahakutesvara and Mallikarjuna, are on either side of a tank known as Kashi Tirtha or Vishnu Pushkarni. This is a natural spring, and devotees believe that a dip will cleanse sins.

About 2 km from Mahakuta, the tranquil Naganatha Temple is set in the midst of the Badami forest. It has a Dravidian shikhara and this is where you’ll find one of the finest examples of ceiling sculptures on themes like the Adishesha, the Nataraja and the Trimurthi.


There are no accommodation options or eateries in these places. It is best to make Badami your base to visit these sites.

When to go Between September and February. Summer in this region is hot Location Set in the southern Deccan Trap Air Nearest airport: Hubli Rail Nearest rail: Badami



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