"We don't know what is the destination, yet we are roaming in the streets of an unknown town.. this is not craziness but madness".. this is what I told to my kid friend Vaithy when we were going to search and see the Aathankudi tiles factory in Karaikudi. Our travels become memorable when we get such like minded crazy friends and I was lucky to have this kid as my travel mate on this Karaikudi trip. We just took his brother's Hero Honda without informing that we are going for a long drive and explored the culture or legacy that is rooted in the red soils of Karaikudi.
Flashback - It was an Eid weekend last year and we were watching "Chennai Express" at my friend Paranthaman's residence, Melbourne. Since I heard that lot of its shooting was done at Palani, Palladam I assumed that the scene where Sathyaraj stops the train to nab his daughter Deepika and Sharukh Khan is that Palani bridge. But when the shot expanded, I was taken aback by the magnitude of the "brook". I thought it would have been a "digitally enhanced" location. Few months later when I watched the Kannada movie "Mynaa", a substantial part of the movie was shot in the Western Ghats forest and the waterfalls played a significant role in that episode. From the movie I learnt that it is called "Dudhsagar" and the nearest Railway station is Castle Rock. Since it was near Karnataka, I was sure that I will visit that falls sometime.
The next day we checked the places to be visited in Badami. There were few locations that were near and far by - Banashankari Temple, Mahakuta, Pattadakal, Aihole. The Banashankari and Mahakuta temple were offway to Pattadakal, which was our priority. Pattadakal houses several temples in a single location whereas Aihole was the school of architecture where the prototypes of temples (that were built later time & several locations) were made. Since I always prefer the local public transport for commuting, we enquired about the bus service in the Badami bus stand. A conductor suggested to take the bus 738 for reaching Pattadakal. With my basic alphabet knowledge I read the bus board written in Kannada as "Koodala Sangama".
It was a strange feeling of venturing into an enemy's place while landing in Badami, which was called as "Vadapi" earlier. For those who couldn't get the link - Vadapi was the capital of Chalukya Kingdom ruled by King Pulikesi, who is the arch rival of King Mahendra Varma Pallava. Infact whatever ruins we see in Mahabalipuram was the remains of the Pulikesi - Pallava war. As I was taking the sides of Mahendra Varma Pallava, I thought that Pulikesi is not so artistically inclined because he destroyed the sculptures in Mahabalipuram and Kanchipuram. But after visiting Badami I realised that he too is equally artistically inclined as Pallava. You can get a feel of this rivalry in the classic - Sivakamiyin Sapatham written by Kalki krishnamurthy.