The Badami cave temples are a complex of temples located at Badami, a town in the Bagalkot District in the north part of Karnataka, India. The town is known for its ancient cave temples carved out of the sandstone hills above.
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.
The Badami Cave Temples, an example of Indian rock-cut architecture, especially Badami Chalukya Architecture, are in north Karnataka, India.
Badami, the capital of the Early Chalukyas, who ruled much of Karnataka in the 6th to 8th centuries, lies at the mouth of a ravine with rocky hills on either side and a town tank into which water from the ravine flows.
The Badami Cave Temples are composed of four caves, all carved out of the soft Badami sandstone. The four caves are simple in style. The entrance is a verandah with stone columns and brackets, a distinctive feature of these caves, leading to a columned mandapa and then to the small square shrine (sanctum sanctorum) cut deep into the cave.
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 as Trivikrama.
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 also have exquisite carvings, sculptures and beautiful murals. The temple caves represent different religious sects. Among them, two are dedicated to god Vishnu, one to god Shiva and the fourth is a Jain temple. The first three are devoted to the Vedic faith and the fourth cave is the only Jain temple at Badami.
The cave temples date back to 6th and 7th century. Their architecture is a blend of North Indian Nagara Style and South Indian Dravidian style.
The water flowing from the ravine in Badami is gathered in an ancient artificial lake - Agastya tirtha reservoir. High above the water there are towering cliffs of comparatively soft sandstone. Royal shrines were made in these cliffs with grand view opening over the former capital city.
History Of Badami cave temples:
The four cave temples of Badami were built by the son of Pulakesi I – Kirthivarman (ruled in 567 – 598 AD) and his brother Mangalesha I (ruled in 598 – 610 AD). One cave is devoted to Shiva, two – to Vishnu. Fourth cave is Jain temple. Thus Chalukyas, just like several other successful dynasties of Ancient India, demonstrated religious tolerance.
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.
Important feature of Badami Caves and their surroundings is ancient inscriptions in Kannada writing and in Kannada and Sanskrit languages. In total in Badami there have been found 18 cliff inscriptions. The oldest is from 543 AD.
One of the most important inscriptions is made in 700 AD at the northeast end of reservoir. It consists of ten lines in Kannada writing, both in Kannada and Sanskrit languages. This inscription is not completely clearly translated but it is clear that it goes about Kappe Arahatta, local saint and hero. Under the inscription there is nice carving of ten leaved lotus in circle.
There exists also the fifth cave in Badami - natural cave used as a Buddhist temple. It can be entered only on all fours. Area contains also many other temples.
Badami Cave Temples have simple exterior but their interiors have very ornate finishing. Entrance leads through a pillared verandah - mukha mandapa, pillars have square form in section.
Three caves are adorned with a lavish frieze below the columns.
The main hall of each temple - maha mandapa - is standing on massive columns.
Furthest part of the temple behind the main hall is the shrine - cella orgarbhagrha. Most likely caves were covered with exciting murals - only traces of this former beauty remain.
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.
Stunning Sculptures at Badami Cave Temples
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.