Step back in time and explore these prehistoric places that are charismatic even in their ruined state.
INDIAN WILD WEST
Rock shelters, megalithic burial sites, cave temples, gateways, forts ….. BADAMI is any archaeologist’s fantasy. Once, the royal capital of the Chalukyas —- who ruled much of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh between the 6th and the 8th centuries —- this sleepy town in Karnataka is a monumental archive of ancient art and inscriptions. A total of 18 inscriptions have been identified so far in BADAMI. Famous for its sandstone structures, rock-cut cave temples and red sandstone cliffs that resemble the Wild West, BADAMI is surrounded by pre-historic locations like Hiregudda, Kyad area, Sidlaphadi and flanked by the peaceful Agastya Lake. Tourists can board auto rickshaws to travel within BADAMI or simply rent a bicycle and roam around the town. Best time to visit : Nov. to March.
OSIAN, an ancient town located in Jodhpur, is like an oasis in the Thar Desert., and has, often, been called the ‘Khajuraho of Rajasthan’ for its temples that have gracefully stood the test of time. Apart from the artistic temples, the city is also known for its camel rides, a great way to tour the town and sample the architectural flavours left by its rulers from the past —- Rathores, Rajputs and the British. With camel and jeep safaris, one can view the vast desert on one side and meet the local tribes, the Bishnois and Bhils, potters, weavers, shepherds and various varieties of desert wildlife in their natural surroundings. Best time to visit : Jan to March.
Situated in the great Rann of Kutch, DHOLAVIRA is one of the 5 largest Harappan sites in the Indian sub-continent. A visit to the place is an eye-opener for laymen in terms of town planning that existed 5,000yrs ago. DHOLAVIRA also has one of the world’s earliest water conservation systems. It had reservoirs, which were used for storing rain water. Another attraction of the site is the archaeological museum, where one gets to see relics of the Indus Valley Civilisation. Best time to visit : Dec to March.
Vast stretches of boulder-strewn hills form the backdrop of magical HAMPI in Karnataka,, with over 500 archaic formations speckled around these hills. Among them are beautiful temples, basements of palaces, remains of aquatic structures, ancient market streets, royal pavilions, treasury buildings, royal platforms ……. the list is exhausting. The earliest settlements at HAMPI date back to the 1st century AD. Also considered as one of the best rock-climbing destinations in India, HAMPI is visited by rock climbers from India and abroad for bouldering expeditions. Best time to visit : Oct to Dec.
WHERE STONES SPEAK
The ancient historic town of MAMALLAPURAM ( previously known as Mahabalipuram), in Tamil Nadu, was a bustling sea-port used by primitive Indian traders to sail to Southeast Asia. Still famous for its beaches, the real treat for travellers, however, are MAMALLAPURAM’s stone sculptures and rock-cut caves. The 5 rathas are beautifully sculpted temples in the shape of chariots, while Arjuna’s Penance is a huge carving on the face of a rock depicting scenes from the epic Mahabharata. The December 2004 tsunami helped unearth more priceless relics in this ancient port city, including sculptures of an elaborately carved lion, a half-completed elephant and a stallion in flight. Another attraction is the Mahabalipuram Dance Festival conducted every year during Jan – Feb. Exponents of classical dance forms such as Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak and Kathakali, from across the country, perform against the magnificent backdrop of the Pallava rock sculpture. Best time to visit : Oct to March.