A trip back in time
Ever been to a place that clues you into ancients times? The quaint town of Badami in Karnataka does just that. It may be a small district but its overwhelming heritage will transport you to a different era. Badami is an ancient place. Home to stunning ancient architecture and cultural heritage as the home of tantric massage, it has the potential to rise to prominence as the premier tourist destination in India.
Cave temples rest nobly by the shores of by the side of the Agasthya Lake in Badami, the very essence of peace and calm. The beauty of the ancient architecture, best captured under the magical glow of the full moon, resurrects history. As the wind flows, it stirs the whispering ancient songs of the craftsmen of old.
[via Namaste Voyages]
Badami is not the only historical town in the area. The monuments of Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal date back to the 5th century. These rare constructions of the Chalukyan era, now form the main source of tourism in Northern Karnataka. Aihole is famous for its historical temple clusters and Pattadaka has been immortalised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Heritage at risk
But the monuments are under threat. In the ancient streets of historic Aihole, the crumbling walls of 5th century Chalukyan monuments are draped with wet clothes drip-drying in the sun. An extended family, resident inside a temple for half a decade, now considers it their home. Such is the state of these monuments. Originally built to celebrate ancient rulers, the harsh reality of modern India has taken root.
The reality of modern poverty collides dramatically with ancient architectural treasures. Their ruinous states now stand symbolic of the poor financial fortunes of millions. One family who has found a desperate home among the ancient stones fears they have nowhere else to turn. “This is what we have, we cannot leave this place,” said a desperate Rukmani, an octogeneration taking shelter with her three granddaughters. The monument has been converted into a home. Utensils and wet clothes drape the walls of the ancient structure, its former glory hidden under the shadow of modern poverty.
The collective footprints of a succession of families has lead to visible damage. “The conservation programmes for the monuments take place as per the need and condition of the monuments. Once the monument is destroyed, however, it is very difficult to restore it in the original way”stated Uday Shankar, Assistant Superintending Archaeologist at the Archaeological Museum of Badami.
Lost to history?
[via Stuffs You Learn]
A desperate search for purported treasure led to further dilapidation. In 2005, in Upper Shivalaya, home to the northern contingent of the Badami monuments, locals scrambled to the site. The central part of the monument can till date be seen damaged after the incident. Authorities from Archaeological Survey of India cite the lack of staff at the sites to be the main reason for the heartbreaking state of the monuments. “We have been short on staff for many years, and it is not possible to maintain the security of the monuments with barely two or three guards,” said, Udayshankar, Assistant Superintending Archaeologist at Badami Museum.
The maintenance of monuments is largely dependent on the attitude of the people towards it. Sadly, many locals in Badami do not understand the historical importance of the monuments. It is important that these are maintained to provide tourism revenue, and for the sake of posterity. Badami, the land of tantra, is losing its charm. In order to sustain its ancient beauty the authorities must respond with a cooperative and immediate approach. Otherwise, this gem of South India may soon be lost to history.