I hired Sharanu, a self appointed guide for my explorations outside the town planned for the next day. He turned out be an opportunist!
Next morning, he was not keen to come with me as he had bagged a more profitable assignment. He offered to send me someone else instead. Having realized that Sharanu will anyway get a commission from the second man, I drove a hard bargain and brought down the price to half. I figured out later that Sharanu got a hefty commission even after the bargain.
Maruth, my substitute guide knew the location well, but little else. It did not bother me much since I had already got my dope of history from an ASI guide. We walked through some surprisingly beautiful stretches with colourful sandstone formations and a few puddles with crystal clear water. Rocks on the way formed curious structure like small caves and some unusual protrusions. There were some holes in the earth, now filled with water, which Maruth claimed to be deep enough to sink a man.
Sidlaphadi, our destination was about an hour’s walk. It is a curious structure – a rock bridge of sorts with a gap below it. The bridge has some gaping holes that are believed to be created by lighting. The name Sidlaphadi roughly translates to cave formed by lighting. Here, ASI had discovered a few evidences about the bridge having sheltered prehistoric men. The ASI museum in Badami has a replica of the bridge and a few informational posters about its the way of life of the then inhabitants.
My guide Maruth
We walked further to Mahakoota (read more about Mahakoota here), a small village with an ancient temple from the time of Chalukyas. I did not spend much time at Mahakoota, but continued to Naganatha Kolla. Naganathakolla is a small village with an ancient temple in the middle of the forest. The temple was well kept, but it seemed like I was the only visitor to go there in a long time. The gates were open but the temple doors were locked. A villager whom I chanced upon on the way back informed me that an elderly man in the village has the keys. But I wasn’t really keen to look inside, I was just happy to be there all by myself spending time quietly, sitting in the temple courtyard.
The temple at Naganathakolla was completely deserted.