Badami 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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
10 Kms, located in a forest on the way to Mahakuta, it is
one of the early Chalukyan temples dedicated to Shiva.
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.
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.
Museum with Shiva's bull, "Nandi" at its entrance
overlooking the dammed lake is worthwhile for the scholarly.
This museum is closed on Fridays.
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
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.