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Badami Cave Temples

Badami Cave Temples

By: Hari Prasad Doddi On: 2015-08-21 Category: Cave Temple Views: 3083
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Badami was previously known as Vataapi Badami, the capital of the early Chalukya dynasty. The Badami cave temples are a complex of temples located at Badami, a town in the Bagalkot district in the north part of Karnataka. They are considered an example of Indian rock-cut architecture, especially Badami Chalukya architecture initiated during the 6th century.

Cave Temples:

The Badami cave temples are composed of four caves. All carved out of the soft Badami sandstone on a hill cliff in the late 6th to 7th centuries. The Cave temples are linked by stepped path with intermediate terraces that offer spectacular views across the town and lake. Cave-temples are labelled 1-4 in their ascending series even though this numbering does not necessarily reflect the sequence of excavation.

The cave temples date back to 600 and 700 CE. The architecture includes structures built in Nagara Style and Dravidian style which is the first and most persistent architectural idiom to be adopted by the early chalukyas. Important part of historical heritage at Badami cave temples are inscriptions in old Kannada script. There is also the fifth natural cave temple in Badami – a Buddhist temple in natural cave which can be entered kneeling on all fours.

Cave 1:

The cave 1 portrays Lord Shiva in his very beautiful incarnation of Nataraja. Lord Shiva in this incarnation has 18 arms. Some of the arms have weapons while some of the arms depict beautiful dance postures. The weapons include drums, trident, axe etc. Some arms also have serpents coiled around them. Lord Shiva has his son Ganesha and the bull Nandi by his side. They also are in beautiful postures. The two sons of Shiva, Ganesha and Kartikkeya are seen riding a peacock in one of the carved sculptures on the walls of the cave. Adjoining to the Nataraja, a wall also depicts the adorable goddess Mahishasuramardini. She has been shown in an angry incarnation killing a buffalo with a trident.

The cave also has carved sculptures of the goddesses Lakhsmi and Parvati to the left of Lord Shiva. To the left, there is also acarved sculpture of Harihar having an axe and a serpent in hand. To the right, Ardhanarishvara sculpted on the end of the walls. All the carved sculptures have beautiful ornaments worn by them,including the animals and birds.

There is also an image of the Vidyadhara couple on the ceiling,meaning they are flying in the air. Beautiful swords are also carved on the walls. The ceiling also depicts Nagaraja, the king of the snakes. The Nagaraja is surrounded by a lot of other serpents coiled around him. The view is fantastic. There is a cleavage in the back side of the cave. It led to the formation of a square sanctuary having beautiful images carved on it.

Cave 2:

The cave 2 is created in late 6th century AD, is almost same as cave 1 in terms of its layout and dimensions but it is consecrated to Lord Vishnu who is shown here as Trivikrama: with one foot on Earth and another one directed to the north. Vishnu in this temple is represented also as Varaha (boar) and Krishna avatars. Cave is reached by climbing 64 steps from the first cave. Entrance is adorned with reliefs of guardians.

The entrance of the cave has two armed guardians holding flowers rather than weapons. The end walls of the outer verandah is occupied by sculpted panels, to the right, Trivikrama; to the left, Varaha rescuing Bhudevi, with a penitent nag below. The adjacent side walls have smooth surfaces with traces of paintwork. The columns shows gods and battle scenes, the churning of cosmic ocean, Gajalakshmi and figures, Brahma and figures, Vishnu asleep on Shesha, illustrate the birth of Krishna, Krishna’s youth, Krishna with gopis and cows. The ceiling shows a wheel with sixteen fish spokes in a square frame along with swastikas and flying couples. The end bays have a flying couple and Vishnu on Garuda.

The doorway is framed by pilasters carrying an entablature with three blocks embellished with gavaksha ornament.

Cave 3:

The theme on which the cave 3 is based on is Shaivite and Vaishnavite.[8] The third cave is dedicated to Vishnu, and is the best and the biggest, and it has splendid giant figures of Trivikrama, Shankaranarayana, Anantasayana, Paravasudeva, Bhuvaraha, Harihara and Narasimha. All these statues are engraved in a vigorous style.

Cave 3 is 60 steps away from the cave 2. The temple with its gigantic façade of 21 m wide is adorned of six hefty columns in a row. Below the columns there is a frieze consisting of 30 smaller reliefs of ganas.

Large number of Vishnu’s reliefs including standing Vishnu, Vishnu with a serpent, Vishnu as Narasimha (half human – half lion), Varaha, Harihara and Trivikrama avatars epitomize the immensity of vastly admired Indian art. Reliefs stand 4 m tall.

The culture and clothing embedded in the sixth century is clearly visible in the art sculpted in cave 3.

There are some paintings on the ceiling and the style indicates maturity but has lost its original dazzling colour. The bracket figures on the piers here are some of the finest.

Cave 4:

The fourth cave is Jaina which is constructed lastly among all the caves.It is only jain monument of early chalukya period in badami town and it was made in late 6th-7th century.The cave is not as large as the other cave. It is beautiful and rich with decoration. It is located higher than other caves. It is not as beautiful as the other three caves.It has five bayed entrance with square columns which make it more beautiful and attractive at base. The first aisle (a passage between buildings) is treated as verandah.The end walls have Parshvanath (right) represented using painting, his head is covered by a metal piece of multi cobra hoods and bahubali is left to him with his lower legs surrounded by snakes. His two sisters Brahmi and sundari is here with him.

On the back part of wall, Mahavira is painted on it.This painting shows Mahavira as a savior. He is sitting on lion throne.

Other Temples at Badami:

On the north hill, there are three temples, of which Malegitti-Shivalaya is perhaps the oldest temple and also the finest in Badami, and has a Dravidian tower. Out of the two inscriptions found here, one states that Aryaminchi upadhyaya, as the sculptor who got this temple constructed and the other dated 1543 speaks of the erection of a bastion during the Vijayanagara rule. The lower Shivalaya has a Dravidian tower, and only the sanctum remains now.

Nearby Temples:

·         Jambhulinga Temple

·         Agasthya Tirtha

·         Yellamma Temple

·         Mallikarjuna Temple

·         Datttreya and Virupaksha Temple

·         Bhuthanatha group of Temples


City           : Badami

Dist.          : Bagalkot

State         : Karnataka

Country   : India

PIN           : 587201

How To Reach:

By Air:

The nearest airport from Badami is the one at Belgaum, approximately 145 km from the city. It is well connected with all the major destinations in the country.

By Rail:

Badami has its own railways station, connected with the major cities in Karnataka. It takes four hours to get to Badami from Hampi, by the Guntakal Express. Tangas and auto rickshaws ply from the station to the town. The next nearest railhead (a major one) is at Hubli, around 97 km away. From here, Rani Chennamma Express plies to Bangalore.

By Road:

Badami is connected by road to Pattadakal (22 km), Aihole (44 km), Hubli (110 km) and Bangalore (502 km). Karnataka State Transport Corporation buses ply from Badami to all the major locations of the state. If you are planning to visit the city by road, from Bangalore, take NH4 to Hubli, via Chitradurga, Davangere and Haveri. From there, switch over to the NH218 to Kulgeri, via Navalgund. Finally, take the state road to Badami.

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