Luke, Trixie, Andrea and I arrived in ಬಾದಾಮಿ (Badami) late evening of Sunday, March 4th. We got a tip back in Hampi to stay at Hotel Relax, so the crew set off from the bus station to find our new temporary home. So there’s a trick to India that takes a bit of time to learn. The thing is, the people are generally very friendly, and as such, they will typically respond with a yes to your question, even if they don’t necessarily understand the question. I now always preface my requests for help with “Do you speak english?” because any reservation in answering this question is a sure sign that I should move on to the next helpful stranger. So the point of this tangent is that we ended up spending a solid 30 minutes or more searching for the likely non-existent Hotel Relax. At one point we were driven to the luxurious hotel that costs $50 per night, simply because the locals assume that’s what any tourist will want. I forget if I had already mentioned this before, but on multiple occasions I’ve asked for recommendations to a cheap place where the locals eat and upon arriving at the recommendation I find that it is an over-the-top snazzy and expensive restaurant.
So we discovered quickly that Badami is not a place that sees much tourism; that is, tourism from outside of India. There are some ancient temples carved into the rocks that attract a bit of tourism from around the country. I’m not sure if I’ve been to a climbing destination this unknown before. Even talking to climbers in Hampi, the majority look perplexed when I name drop this place. Perhaps Demir Kapija in Macedonia? But Demir Kapija was not very impressive from what I saw. This place is for sure some of the best climbing I’ve had this entire trip!
So we got a couple of dirty cheap hotel rooms for the night and then grabbed some dinner before hitting the hay. (Similar to Hampi, this area requires an early morning climbing sesh and an evening sesh, due to the brutal midday heat). We say down in the restaurant and waited…and waited…we discussed multiple times whether we should ask for menus or if they were going to just serve us food. At the exact moment that I called the attention of a staff member to request menus, he came out with our food. The food at this place, called a Thalia, arrives in a large circular metal tray and consists of an assortment of dishes. Tonights was beats, a lentil dish and another sort of veggie dish. Then the fresh chapatis are passed out to each plate. Careful! They’re hot!
We were all rather confused as to how exactly this should be managed. Luke noted, that to the locals, this may look as absurd as watching an Indian in the states dissecting a burger and eating the separate components. Eventually the owner took notice and without hesitation he walked up to me, grabbed the chapati out of my hand, ripped it up into pieces, and then demonstrated a stirring motion over all the veggie dishes. Apparently the name of the game here is get messy. But only with your right hand!
The food comes out as you consume it here. A container that looks something like a giant silverware container is filled with the different dished, one in each of the four cylinders. The server slaps a spoonful of dish 1 on each persons place and then does a quick rotation and starts slapping down dish 2. He runs into the kitchen and returns a moment later with a plate of hot “tortillas”. He points at each of us in turn, “Chapati? Chapati? Chapati? Chapati?”. I don’t know how much I ate. It’s really dangerous, the way it just keeps coming out. All in all, this all-you-can-eat meal wracked up to a whopping $1.50 each.
I took a quick look into the kitchen afterwards, to see our chefs hard at work. I was blown away by what I saw. The walls were adobe or something of the like. A woman sat in the corner chopping vegetables in a bowl. Another was stoking the fire with an ancient air blowing mechanism. This kitchen looked straight out of the 16th century!
The next morning we got up bright and early to get climbing. Knock down a few $0.08 chai’s and buy some sugary white bread because there’s not much else to work with, and then get to the crag!
I had messaged Ganesha, a local climbing guide, and we planned to meet up to climb with him at Temple Area that morning. He had a few friends with him, and we also got to meet a few other Indians that had come from various parts of the country to have a little climbing getaway.
Great dinner that night at Shri Veerbhadreshwar!
Next morning, Deluxe Area.
First day getting on Honeymoon, an absolutely beautiful 7b that was soon to become my obsession for the rest of my time in Badami.
Crazy early start for our last day of climbing with Andrea, Luke and Trix. Some of the climbs had bolts missing, as in, it would just be a screw sticking out of the wall. It took me a while until I recognized that it was only the lower bolts that were missing. Apparently some of the locals will come up and steal the bolts! Also, Luke took his first whip!
That afternoon we checked out some old-ass temples. Built around the 6th century, these temples are carved right into the rock. More importantly, there is such beautiful rock here! Check out the potential trad line just to the left of this one temple!!!
So Trixie, Luke and Andrea headed back to Bangalore that night. Farewell guys! It was such a pleasure meeting you! Until next climb. (See ya soon Andrea :P)
Also, be sure to check out Trixie’s beautifully written blog here!
Tips for visiting to Badami:
Rajsangam Hotel – cheap and nice accommodation right across from the bus station. 700₹ or fancy room for 1000₹. 900₹ for a three person room.
Shri Veerbhadreshwar – great food for super cheap. ask for the specials! especially the palak paneer!
Contact Ganesha Waddar about climbing in the area. He has a useful online guidebook as well.
Use rickshaws to get to the base of Deluxe or Temple crags. You can walk it, but the ride is only 50₹ and you don’t want to waste your precious cool hours walking to the crag.