After spending ten days in Hampi I thought it time to move on to Badami to explore the 5th century sandstone-cut temples. As I was the only one ready to leave, I was to go it alone for the first time, and was excited for the adventure. I left early one morning preparing my self for the eight hour bus ride.
During the first half hour I met a lovely Hindu man that held my hand the entire time we talked (that is common place here and is even a compliment, I swear). 20 minutes into conversing with him he started to introduce me to everyone he new on the bus, which was quite a few people. It was a great way to start my new journey.
Unfortunately, that is where the good times ended. Half way to my destination we had a rest stop and upon returning to my bus I noticed that my large back pack had been stolen. With eyes darting and heart racing I soon realized that I had boarded the wrong bus. As I tried to avoid a small child while exiting the bus, my foot slipped and I fell smashing my knee and falling into a puddle of disgusting sludge. As everyone stared at me I quickly got up and boarded the correct bus that still had my backpack on it. Dousing my ravaged knee with antiseptic and changing my shirt in front of twenty Indian people staring at me, my earlier jovial mood quickly faded.
With my knee completely seized up, the next three days in Badami were spent in bed wondering if I fractured my knee and what to do next. The closest "good" hospital was eight hours from where I came and my friends where just as far so I waited till my knee started to feel better. By day four it was at 80% and figured that there was no fracture. Dreadfully, however, that was the day I became ill and instead of the bed being my best friend, the toilet was. Thank God it was a western toilet. At day five I couldn't be in my room anymore. With hobbled walk and clenched buttocks I finally ventured out to see Badami's carved-out temples.
Badami was the center of the ancient Chalukyan society in India and has some of the best Dravidian architecture around. There are four temples carved into a red sandstone cliff nestled beside the town, all dedicated to different deities; Shiva, Vishnu, Buddhism, and Jainism. This shows the religious tolerance of the rulers of the time (something that rarely happened). The four temples are modest in size with elaborate and detailed cravings throughout. Each temple is perched higher then the previous with the final temple having an amazing view of the Agasthya Lake and the town below.
It was good to get out again and just stare into the past. Although my tranquility never lasted as class after class of school children would advance on me at first sight with a barrage of barely intelligible questions. After the fifth class I grew weary of children and began to hide in the temples. Shiva and I became tight.
One of the scarier moments in this dusty little one cow town was in the bar of the hotel. One night someone spotted a King Cobra in the middle of the room. Once caught, they were more than happy to retrieve the very large snake from the gunny sack and antagonize it so I could see it with hood fully retracted. Not a request I made, but one they insisted on. I think they like to make us tourists squirm. It worked.