Badami was the ancient capital of the early Chalukyas who ruled most of Karnataka and the adjoining Andhra Pradesh between the 6th and 8th century. The famous Badami Rock-Cut Temples were carved mainly within this period.
They were discovered by the Pulekeshin I, the great Chalukya ruler. Along with these cave temples you may find here number of monuments belonging to the ancient times.
There are total of four Badami caves. Out of which three are the Brahminical caves and one is the Jain cave.
Cave 1 is a Shiva Temple and was the first to be excavated. It is the oldest of the four caves of Badami. It was carved in 578 AD made of red sandstone. A flight of steps leads to the hall of pillars, behind which is the square shaped sanctum.
The temple walls depict the family of Shiva including Durga-Mahishamardini, Kartikey and Ganesh.
Nataraj, Lord of dance
The most celebrated sculpture in cave 1 is that of the 18 armed dancing Nataraj demonstrating eighty one mudras. Nataraj, Lord of Dance, is the cosmic dancer Shiva, performing divine dance to destroy the universe paving way for its creation.
The entire panel radiates vigorous energy and motion of the Shiva Tandav Nrutya with Ganesh and Nandi also joining in the dance. The musician is playing tripura vaadya.
Cave 2, lying to the west of Cave 3 and facing north, was created in late 6th century. It is almost same as Cave 1 in terms of its layout and dimensions, but it is dedicated primarily to Vishnu. Cave 2 is reached by climbing 64 steps from the first cave. The cave entrance is a verandah divided by four square pillars, which has carvings from its middle section to the top where there are yali brack.
Vishnu’s third avatar Varah.
Varah with one hand rescuing the earth Bhudevi from the ocean and with one foot resting on the netherland or pataal. The Nag King Vasuki worships the feet of Lord Vishnu. During the Samundra Manthan, Vasuki allowed himself to be used as the churning rope.Varah was the royal emblem of the Chalukyas and was later adopted by Vijaynagar Empire.
Cave 3 (578 AD) is also dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This is the most interesting and largest (70 feet wide) cave among the four caves of badami.
Mangalesh built this temple in memory of his brother Kirtivarma’s rule.
It has well carved, giant figures of Trivikrama, Anantasayana, Paravasudeva, Bhuvaraha (Varaha), Harihara and Narasimha.
Cave 3 is 60 steps away from Cave 2.
Vamana shown with eight arms (Ashtabhuja)
This is decorated with various types of weapons. A crescent moon is crafted above his face and the crown of Vishnu decorates his head. He is flanked by Varaha and two other figures; below on his right is his attendant Garuda. The images in front of Vamana are three figures of Bali and his wife with Shukra, his councillor.
Cave 4 is the only Jain cave among the other four Badami caves. Cave 4 is situated higher than the other caves.
This cave was completed around 100 years later when the other three caves were completed.
The cave has a five-bayed entrance with four square columns – each with brackets and capitals.
Parshvanath & Indrabhuti Gautama
The end walls of cave 4 have Parshvanath about 7.5 feet (2.3 m) tall with his head decorated with a multi-headed cobra representing protection and reverence.
Carvings include Indrabhuti Gautama covered by four snakes, and Bahubali seen to the left of Gautama with his lower legs surrounded by snakes, together with his daughters Brahmi and Sundari.
Mosque of Adilshahi of Bijapur.
One of the poor monuments like many others in India, those are getting ruined in the lack of proper maintenance. This mosque generally remain closed because nobody visit this place. It is really an impressive monument, but in the shadow of adjacent caves, it is lacking behind. Its walls have inscription in Arabic praising Allah and Ali.
The Agasthya Tirtha
This Agasthya Lake situated at the foot of the hill that houses the cave temples. It is famous because the water in the lake is believed to have great healing powers.
Bhutanatha temple is located at the Eastern side of the lake. Another temple of Bhoothnath Group of temple is located at the North-Eastern side of the lake, but the Eastern temple complex is the main temple and believed to be built in 5th century.
These temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva.
After entering the complex, this is the first thing to visit, just near the main entrance on the left side.
There is a stone statue of Nandi, Lord Shiva’s bull, at the entrance of the museum.
The museum mainly comprises of pre-historic stone implements and sculptures, architectural members, inscriptions, hero stones etc. My favorite in this museum is the miniature model of sidhilphadi cave. I really wanted to visit this place after seeing the model. But the lady in the museum told me not to go
there because the place is not safe for solo travelers.
Museum timings: Daily except Fridays through the year from 10:00 Hrs to 17:00 hrs.
Top of the hills.
Top of the hills are almost flat, it has many walkable trails and small water reservoir, some small temples with excellent carvings and Badami Fort.
The view of Badami town from the top of the hill was amazing.
I traveled Badami from Bengaluru in Golgumbaz express train. The journey took almost 11 hours to reach badami.
There are no direct bus available between Bengaluru and Badami. But you can get a direct bus from Bengaluru to Bagalkot.
This journey takes approx. 10 hours. From Bagalkot, catch another bus to Badami. There is a small railway station in Badami, which is about 5 kms away from the town.