From my vantage point in the caves up in the hill, I could see the Bhoothanatha Temple at the edge of Agastya Lake. Unlike the caves that are full of people, the temple premises was empty, save for occasional drifting visitors. Sitting in the temple courtyard one evening, I watched the cool breeze ruffled the lake surface and the evening sun disappear behind the town.
The temple is the last place I visited in Badami. I have a strange apprehension about approaching places that are beautiful beyond description. I admire them from a distance for a long time and feel good about being in its vicinity. Sometimes I feel contented just to be able to see it from far than approaching it from close quarters and observing its cross sections. I spent many hours walking along the lake, keeping the temple in the view and postponing the visit till the last day. May be I was afraid that it would not live up to my expectation. Or may be I was afraid that the experience is complete on being there, leaving me with nothing further to look for.
The setup of Bhoothanatha Temple is grand. Surrounded by walls of red sandstone rocks on three sides and the waters of the lake lapping up the steps in the front, it seems like a magical land that could only be imagined in a painting. The temple itself is a simple structure with an array of round pillar enclosed by a parapet in the front and a small room forming the sanctum. The sandstones walls kissed by the gentle waves from the lake glow brightly in the evening sun.
During my wanderings along the lake shore, I drifted towards the hills and climbed a series of steps that took me up the table land above. The steps climb through narrow gaps in the rocks that are wide enough at places just to let in a few people at a time. Sunlight peering through the gap and flaring up small sections of the wall make a colourful play of light and shade in these fissures.
Up on the hill are a few temples, a few pillars and remains of a fort. Fortification of the hill must have been an easy task, as it mostly involved building walls to restrict entry through the cracks in the rock. I was hoping to see some bird life in the scrub vegetation that spread along the plateau, but the area seemed lifeless, save for the monkeys. Next day, I walked for a few hours along with a local guide who took me deeper into the hills, seeing no more than a handful of birds of common species.