ASI working to get heritage tag for Badami, Aihole

SET FOR A FACELIFT: A temple in Aihole  

Swathi Shivanand

63 of the 123 monuments at Aihole are out of the ASI's purview Fort walls, built by Tipu Sultan at Badami are being reconstructed

BANGALORE: After Hampi and Pattadakal, it may be the turn of famed caves at Badami and Aihole, the cradle of Indian temple architecture, to get the World Heritage tag if efforts by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) bear fruit.

Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal, in that order, represent the evolving style of Chalukyan architecture. "Aihole is where the Chalukyan style originates, takes shape in Badami and culminates in full splendour at Pattadakal. We want to work towards including these places in the World Heitage list," Superintending Archaeologist, Dharwad Circle, S.V. Venkateshaiah told The Hindu .

Monuments tell the history of Aihole and Badami. Decades of neglect by authorities allowed people ignorant of its awesome past to inhabit these monuments. Stone slabs on walls have gone permanently missing, meticulously carved sculptures of the deities have been broken and life size idols destroyed.

"Until now, we were looking at improving facilities and restoration of monuments at Pattadakal. We want to now do the same at Aihole and Badami," said Dr. Venkateshaiah. At Aihole, 63 of the 123 monuments still remain out of the ASI's purview, according to a survey it conducted.

After much delay, the people of Aihole have agreed to move out and submitted a memorandum to Revenue Minister Jagadish Shettar asking for separate living facilities elsewhere, he said.

Preservation efforts are on at five places Triambakeshwara temple, Maddinagudi, Charanthi Math, Konnattigudi and Gowri Gudi. The ASI has also taken up restoration work at "Pushkarnis" (ancient wells) at Jyothirlinga temple, Huchimalagudi and Tara Basappa group of monuments.

Badami, on the other hand, has received slightly more attention than Aihole. Typical ASI gardens have been created, the Agastya tank overlooking the four famous caves has been restored and the pathways connecting the Bhuthanatha temples have been repaired.

Fort walls, built by Tipu Sultan in 1786, are under reconstruction. Many parts of the fort had collapsed and the ASI is rebuilding them in such a manner that the originality is not affected.

A.M. Hanagandi, ASI official at Badami, said that they are replacing missing portions with pink granite. "We will then chemically treat the new slabs to match the colour to that of the old ones," he said.

To expand further and bring in other stray monuments in Badami under its care, the ASI is looking at acquiring 180 pieces of property in Tatakhota village at a cost of about Rs. 3 crore, said Dr. Venkateshaiah.