One of our goals at Go Heritage Runs is to draw attention to heritage towns that are often under-appreciated or under the radar of heritage, travel and fitness enthusiasts. This is why, while we’ve done runs at the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Hampi and Ooty in the recent past, we’ve also planned run vacations at destinations like Bidar and Warangal. Badami, a town in North Karnataka is another such example. The town was capital of the Badami Chalukyas for over two hundred years and has some spectacular rock-cut temples dating back to the 6th century. As recently as January 2015, Badami was also identified as a heritage city under India’s HRIDAY (Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana) scheme. Badami is also situated 21kms away from Pattadakal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. All in all, Badami checked a lot of boxes so planning a run there was quite a no-brainer.
Preparation and Route Reconnaissance
Preparation for Go Heritage Run – Badami began in July when we consulted with Mr. K.S. Raykar, Executive Director of the Indian Heritage Cities Network. Mr. Raykar has been a long-time supporter of Go Heritage Runs and IHCN is the anchor agency for the HRIDAY projects in Bidar so they were perfect partners for the run. In mid-August, right after the Historic Hyderabad Run, we made a trip to Badami to validate some of the run route options we’d mapped out online. We were happy to discover that this run route was going to be a particularly scenic rocky trail – one that traversed temples, cliffs, jowar fields, a lake and a fort. We undertook the route recce one rainy Friday evening and were rewarded midway with the appearance of a perfect rainbow!
During this trip, we also spoke to local artisans to plan out our runner finisher medals. We initially considered medals incorporating local Kasuti embroidery but eventually settled on medals made of granite with a design etched into them. Badami is well known for its rocky landscapes after all!
With the 5K, 10K and 21K run routes validated, we set about spreading the word about the run. We launched registrations and made sure our friends in running groups across Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Goa heard about it. We also got the word out at the 5th Airtel Hyderabad Marathon and Tri Thonnur in the weeks leading up to the run. As is our standard practice, we made sure we wrote extensively about Badami’s history and heritage at our blog. Our in-house designer, Harini Kannan, spent a lot of thought on the design of the finisher T-shirt and we made sure to share sneak peeks of the T-shirt with the Go Heritage Runs community. The T-shirt had a beautiful, minimal design incorporating elements from the Badami region into a symbol every runner will recognize easily – a shoe! Look closely and you will find these individual elements stand out quite clearly. The most apparent feature in the design is of course the rocky landscape of Badami. The shoe lace eyelets are represented by a stitch design used in Kasuti Embroidery. To encourage local participation, we also set up promotional signage at key points around Badami town.
The Question of Signage
Direction and distance signage on the trail route posed a unique challenge. At earlier runs, we’ve used flex signage hung from trees that are easy to setup, remove and reuse in further runs. Given the nature of the trail and the lack of trees alongside the path, we needed a different signage solution. We finally settled on election yard signs – those that are quite a common sight in the US. This Hillary 2016 sign in particular served as inspiration. India exports signage such as these (commercial name: Coroplast) to the US and it wasn’t hard to find a supplier, albeit one in Gujarat. Since our supplier wasn’t able to procure the steel base though, while setting up the route, we improvised and used wooden stakes that we drove into the ground, or set in place with rock.
On Sunday, nearly 150 participants from across South India descended upon the Start Point – the Archaeological Museum at Badami and ran the trail route from the North Fort to the Mahakuta temple and back. At that early hour, it was interesting to note that the Mahakuta Temple was bustling with activity – and some of our runners chose to jump into the temple pool before making their way back to the finish point. All the finishers received a medal made of granite, because, as one of our runners said, Badami rocks!
Our runs are organized in close coordination with the local administration and Badami was no exception. The district administration and elected representatives from the district were apprised about the plan for a run in advance and their suggestions were incorporated. The District Collector Shri P.A. Meghannavar, IAS, Shri P. C. Gaddigoudar (M.P, Bagalkot district) and Shri B B Chimmankatti (M.L.A Badami Assembly Constituency) expressed full support and promised all help in this plan to promote heritage of and tourism to Badami. The Badami Municipal Council CEO Mr. Yelegeri assigned Executive Engineer Mr. Beli to help us with all aspects of the run. The runs were flagged off by Shri. Vikas Suralkar (Assistant Commissioner, Bagalkot), Shri Amarawadagi (Tahasildar), Mrs. Gowramma Bevur (Badami Municipal Council President) and Mrs. Naik (Badami Municipal Council Vice-President). The enthusiasm of the authorities can be judged from the fact that we had 3 councillors participate in the run too!
The run route embodied the key aspects of Badami’s landscape – rocks, temples and the lake. It was a challenging, but rewarding route. A rocky trail for the most part with spectacular views. Runners participated from nearby cities of Hubli, Bangalore, Hyderabad and even the further cities of Pune and Mumbai. Foreign nationals from USA, France and Russia ran their way through Badami too.
See all the photos from the run here – link.
Our runs are a way for everyone to engage with heritage. On one hand, the runs bring in tourists from big cities to smaller towns, while on the other, the runs encourage awareness among local residents of the importance of their own heritage. But we do not stop at that, we have tried to add additional activities at the destination too – Karez exploration in Bidar, bouldering in Hampi, Perini dance performance in Warangal and a heritage walk tour in Ooty.
In Badami too, we pursued the same model and organized a couple of activities to engage local citizens and tourists alike.
On 12th and 13th September, we organized an exhibition of photos from Badami and the different heritage/tourist sites in the districts of Bagalkot and Vijayapura (Bijapur). These photos were shot by local amateur photography enthusiasts and were displayed at Veer Pulkeshi Vidyavardhaka Samsthe, a local educational institute. One of the photographers, Dr. H. G. Daddi, travelled from the nearby town of Jamkhandi to attend the exhibition in person too. Nearly 200 residents of Badami enjoyed the exhibition.
Badami is well known in India’s climbing circles and its sandstone cliffs make for some thrilling sport climbing. After the run, our friends at Climbing Badami organized a rappelling session for a couple of runners. Many were first-time rappellers and as they descended the 150 foot cliff they got to take in some stunning views of Badami and its surroundings. If you’d like to rappel off of Badami’s sheer cliffs the next time you’re in the area, do get in touch with Ganesh.