Badami is not the typical tourist destination. The very few western tourists that make it to Badami stay for a night at best, look at the cave temples and move on. The Lonely Planet actually calls the main road “an eyesore that will have you wanting to get the hell out of there” and of course it is the main road that welcomes you when you arrive in Badami.
When we stopped near the bus stand both of us had big question marks above our heads “where will we stay in this crowded, dusty and noisy town?” The advantage is, Badami is small so we went left and right to come to the same conclusion: there is no place for us, not an empty square meter, not one without people, pigs or rubbish.
In a desperate move we decided to head away from the center towards the plain and after just a few hundred meters we saw a tourist info sign. When questioned where we could stay with a caravan they simply said here in front of the hotel, a Karnataka state run hotel with a nice garden full of big trees full of monkeys and flying dogs. For Badami standards a quiet and clean place that offered everything we needed for the next few weeks, water, food, internet and space for our Mutlu to chase pigs, goats, dogs and - for the first time in his life - monkeys.
Happy about our almost perfect parking location we started our next task: exploring Badami’s climbing sectors. The guide book we found in Delhi is many years old and of questionable quality but within the next few days we climbed in the sectors Deluxe, Ganesh, Temple and Waterfall, got to know “local” climbers (some from Badami, many from Bengaluru) who again introduced us to the best food stalls and restaurants and showed us all the climbs that are not listed in the guide book.
On our rest days we explored the market where cows and pigs fight with stand owners for food, visited the lake with its nice temples and women washing their clothes or toured the wider area with our motor bike. After a good week and after having gotten used to the amazing sandstone cliffs with their exceptional rock quality we decided to take a short break and move to Gokarna at the coast to celebrate New Year with our friends Jojo & Steffi (coming down from Goa), Stefan, Sebastian and Behrang (having already visited us in Badami). A day’s drive through a beautiful area followed by even more beautiful beaches was a welcome break from the climbing but after a few days we were happy to return to Badami. And this time Badami and its people really captured our hearts. We met Madhu who climbed with Da-ling and John and together with some other locals formed a small group that met every day for climbing, food or some other activity. After a few days this group was expanded by the arrival of Kilian Fischhuber and Tuhin Satarkar with camera man Martin from the Red Bull team - also staying at “our” hotel. We got to know even more local food (yes you can get a “all you can eat” thali for 60 Rupies - 90 Euro cents) and spent one or the other night in the well maintained and monkey invested garden of our hotel.
This was also the time when Lisa & Martin arrived from Austria on their first stop of their world climbing trip. Lisa is somehow related to me (and then not) but it really doesn’t matter as we met for the first time in Badami and spent a fun time that even brought us to Gokarna (yes we went again) together on our way further south. Lisa also brought more hangers, really an important thing in Badami as some of the hangers are missing on first bolts or higher up if they are easy to reach. We used the rest days to get stuff fixed (repairing a flat tire on our motor bike costs 50 Rupies - about 65 Euro cent) and to recover from the occasional diarrhoea (mostly Berna). This is when I got to know “my local tailor”. Not only did he fix all my broken clamping sets and our motorbike seat, he also tailored a new protection cover for our generator and a new bed for Mutlu. He even came to visit us in Rouletout to cut my beard and his mini shop became an occasional stop for chai on our way back home from Temple area.
For many local shop owners and tuk-tuk (sorry, auto-) drivers we became familiar faces and regularly we were asked by “strangers” where our dog is or if my wife is ok when I went to town alone. Mutlu got used to the monkeys (at least most of the time) and we learned to close the roof window at night - monkeys tend to relief themselves early morning at dawn, an unpleasant wake-up call. We climbed a lot and hard (for my standards) and the finishing of our projects was only delayed by all the festivals occurring in Badami. Hardly a few days pass without a festival for a specific god or temple meaning loud music, processions, dancing and traditional costumes - a feast for the eyes and another welcome diversion from our daily routine. January was about to end and our projects were finished when we decided to continue our journey. Our dear friend Madhu and his climbing colleagues left for Hampi and with the exception of Lisa & Martin and a Canadian couple we were the last foreign climbers in Badami. Lisa & Martin decided to join us for the trip to Gokarna and on 27-Jan-2015 we heavy heartedly left our temporary home base and moved south, but more about that in our next blog entry.