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Badami Cave Temples, Karnataka

Badmi Temples in KarnatakaBadami situated in North Karnataka, the Capital of the Early Chalukyas. It is noted for its beautiful carved cave temples, artificial lake , Museme & rock-cut into the cliff face of a red sandstone hill, of the 6th & 7th Centuries. It is picturesquely situated at the mouth of a ravine between two rocky hills. Its all four cave temples - all hewn out of sandstone on the precipice of a hill. They display the full range of religious sects which have developed in India. Overlooking the temples is a reservoir, its banks dotted with temples. Two of them are dedicated to Vishnu, one to Shiva and the fourth is a Jain temple. The first three belong to the Vedic faith and the fourth and natural cave is the only Buddhist temple in Badami. Here are some splendid carvings of the Hindu Pantheon. Narasimha the half-man half Lion avatar of Vishnu Hari Hara, the composite god who is half-Shiva and half-Vishnu. Vishnu Narayana sitting as well as reclining on the snake Shesh or Ananta (Eternity ) There are also some painting on the ceiling and wonderful bracket figures on the piers. The caves found here are as follows:

Cave 1:
One can easily climb to cave 1 made of red sandstone. It antedates 578 A.D. and was probably the first to be carved. Climbing the 40 odd steps to reach the colonnaded verandah, a hall with numerous pillars and a square shaped sanctum hollowed in the control backwall. Column shafts are masterfully crafted. On the ceiling one can see the paintings of amorous couples. Shiva and his consort Parvati, and a coiled serpent. Shiva as Natraja with 18 arms is seen in 81 dancing poses.

Cave 2:
This cave is dedicated to Vishnu. Vishnu here is depicted as a dwarf or Trivikrama of awesome dimensions with one foot mastering the Earth and the other the sky, the second cave is atop a sandstone hill. Vishnu here is depicted as a dwarf or. Another form of Vishnu portrayed here is as 'Varaha' or as a boar. Vishnu riding the Garnda & lotus surrounded by sixteen fishes.

Badami Caves Temples Karnataka holidaysCave 3:
Still going higher up one comes across this 578 A.D. The facade of the cave is nearly 70 feet wide, on the plinth one can see the carvings of ganas. The sheer artistry and sculptural genius makes it this cave the highlight of Deccani art. It gives a virtual insight into the art and culture of the 6th century like costumes, jewelry hairstyle lifestyle etc. The other attractions to be looked carefully in this cave are the high relief of Vishnu with a serpent, Vishnu as Narasimha (Vishnu as Man-Lion) Varaha, Harihara (Shiva Vishnu) and Vishnu as Trivikrama.

Cave 4:
Lying to the east of cave three, the fourth cave is Jain. There is an image of Mahavira adorning the sanctum. Other carvings here are of Padmavathi & other Thirthankaras. Asteep climb up some steps cut in a crevice between Cave II & III leads to the southern part of Badami Fort & to an old gun placed there by Tippu Sultan.

Architure
The cave temples of Badami which date back to 600 and 700 A.D. are carved out of sandstone hills. Each has a sanctum, a hall, an open verandah and pillars. What makes these cave temples remarkable, are the large number of exquisite carvings and sculptures. The town encompasses a number of carved monuments and caves of the Chalukyas that is a blend of Indian Nagara style and the South Indian Dravidian style of architecture. There are many beautiful murals as well. The free standing stone temples in Badami, provide enlightening information about the development of the Chalukyan style of architecture, as many seem to have been experimental constructions. The early temples appear to be like large court halls to which shrines were attached. The Ladkhan temple at Aihole belongs to this early phase. The next phase of development is visible in the Gowdaragudi temple which is a more complex structure.

One of the many masterpieces to be found in these caves is the famous, 18-armed Nataraja (Shiva) who if observed closely, strikes 81 poses. Cave 4, the last cave, is the only Jain Temple in Badami. The 24th Tirthankara- Mahavira, is seated in a uniquely comfortable pose here, against a cushion in the inner sanctum. On the other bank of the ancient Bhutnatha lake, astride whose shores the caves stand, is the shrine of Nagamma, the local serpent goddess, within a massive tamarind tree. Nearby, are two Shiva temples, which deify Him as Bhutanatha, God of Souls. Within the inner sanctum, on the edge of the water, He sits in a rare pose, leaning back, in all his awesome majesty. It is said that the better known caves of Elephanta and Ellora were modelled on the ones in Badami. The Kailashnatha temple at Ellora, has been hewn out of an entire hillock, cut out from the parent hill and combines the best of cave and free-standing temples.

History
The rich past of Badami is closely linked with the ancient Kingdom of Chalukyas. It was first founded by Pulakesin I in the 6th century A.D. The Chalukyas are to be credited with pioneering a new architectural style, examples of which can be seen in Aihole, Pattadakal ( one comes across Banashankari, the goddess the village is named after) and other neighbouring areas. It was also ruled by the Chalukyas of Kalyan (a separate branch of Chalukyas), the Kalachuryas, Yadavas of Devangiri and the Vijaynagar Empire. In the latter medieval period, Adil Shahi rulers of Bijapur and the Marathas ruled it. Badami was finally taken over by the British, who made it a part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency. They built a number of temples, and other monuments that marked the beginning of the Hindu style of architecture. This new style combined the best of two distinct styles - the North Indian, Indo-Aryan Nagara style and the South Indian Dravidian style. Known as the Chalukyan style, this style is manifested in many cave temples, dedicated to Brahmanical deities, as well as the many Buddhist and Jain monasteries in the region.

Places to see
Naganath Temple
10 Kms, located in a forest on the way to Mahakuta, it is one of the early Chalukyan temples dedicated to Shiva.

Aihole
46 Kms. There is a remarkable group of temples here built during the reign of Chalukyan rulers, dating from the sixth to the eighth centuries.

Tranquil lake
Take a dip in this green tranquil lake. It is said to have healing properties. According to a popular story, King Kushataraya was cured of leprosy here.

Archaeological Museum
Museum with Shiva's bull, "Nandi" at its entrance overlooking the dammed lake is worthwhile for the scholarly. This museum is closed on Fridays.

Badami Fort
2 Kms. Strategically situated on top of the hill, the fort encloses large granaries, a treasury impressive temples on top of the northern end of the hill. Malegitti Shivalaya, perhaps the oldest temple of the lot, is dedicated to the benign aspect of Shiva as the garland maker. Placed on the summit of a rocky hill, the temple is built of stone, finely joined without mortar, & with Dravidian tower. The lower Shivalaya has a Dravidian tower of which only the sanctum remains now.

Main attarction
A number of annual temple festivals are held in towns near Badami. The annual temple festival, held at Banashankari, in the month of January-February is worth visiting; so are the Virupaksha Temple Car Festival and Mallikarjuna Temple Festival held in Pattadakal during March-April.

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