Surrounded by a yawning expanse of flat farmland, BADAMI, capital of the Chalukyas from 543 AD to 757 AD, extends east into a gorge between two red sandstone hills, each topped by an ancient fort complex. The southern hill is riddled with cave temples, while the northern one is studded with early structural temples. Beyond the village, to the east, is an artificial lake, Agastya, said to date from the fifth century. Badami’s small selection of hotels and restaurants makes it an ideal base from which to explore the Chalukyan remains at Aihole and Pattadakal, as they do not possess such facilities. Be aware that the whole Badami area is home to numerous troupes of monkeys, especially around the monuments, and they will crawl all over you if you produce food.

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