Badami Cave Temples are a part of the glorious rock-cut temple architecture of India. These cave temples are located at Badami, a small city in the Indian state of Karnataka. Badami Caves Temple is located at the western banks of an artificial lake, known as Agastya Lake, while River Malaprabha flows at 3 miles away from the site.
The temples are safeguarded by an earthen wall with stone flights. The northern and southern part of the Badami Cave Temples is safeguarded by forts, which were built later than the rock-cut temples. The Badami Cave Temples consists of Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu temples. These cave temples represent the Chalukya style of architecture and are some of the oldest Hindu temples of the country, dating back to the 6th century. The Badami Cave Temples are recognized by UNESCO as world heritage sites.
History and Legend of Badami Cave Temples
The Badami Cave Temples of Karnataka is a part of the golden phase of ancient India.
- The Badami Cave Temples of Karnataka were constructed during the 6th to the 8th century by the Chalukya dynasty.
- There are four primary caves, namely, Cave 1, Cave 2, Cave 3 and Cave 4.
- These caves are constructed out of Badami sandstone.
- The Cave 1 was the first excavation by the Chalukya artisans, which took place in the 550 AD.
- The epigraphy, that is, rock inscriptions in the Kannada language over the Cave 3 depicts explains the time of construction of this cave temple. Based on this information, the time of construction of the other cave temples of Badami.
- The epigraphy over Cave 3 informs that the cave temple was built by Mangalesha, during the lunar calendar of Saka 500.
- Besides these four caves, another two caves were discovered. Cave 5 is considered to be a Buddhist cave.
- There are several theories related to the statue discovered in Cave 5, which is a natural cave.
- One of the theories states that this carved statue is that of Lord Buddha. The chauris of the temple depict Bodhistavas. Later the temple was converted into a Hindu shrine of Lord Vishnu and Lord Buddha was marked as the ninth avatar of the Lord, which is evident from the white paintings on the face of the statue.
- Another theory states that Cave 5 was always a Hindu cave, dedicated to Mayamoha, also known as the Buddhavatara Vishnu.
- As per another theory, the statue is of a Jain deity.
- According to archaeologist Henry Cousens and A. Sundara, it is a statue of an ancient monarch, as it is adorned with non-Buddhist ornaments, like rings, necklaces, and a chest band. The statue is also found to wear the Hindu sacred thread.
- The latest excavation took place in 2015. This led to the discovery of Cave 6.
- Cave 6 lies approximately 500 meters away from the other five came temples. This cave temple is a Hindu temple, comprising of 27 fine sculptures of Hindu deities.
Significance of the Badami Cave Temples
The Badami Cave Temples of Karnataka not only forms an important tourist destination of the country but also the place where the religious beliefs of India have been beautifully portrayed.
- The Cave 1 of the group of Badami Cave temples is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Cave 1 is similar to a normal temple complex, with an open L shaped courtyard, a verandah, a pillared hall and a comparatively small sanctum that has been engraved into the center of the rear wall of the cave.
- Cave 1 is significant for exquisite sculptures. The sculptures depict the family of Lord Shiva, constituting Goddess Durga, along with the two sons, Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya. The interior of Cave 1 is adorned with the sculptures of this mythological family.
- The western part of the cave temple comes with some of the most well-known sculptures of the site. There is a small grotto at this side. The Northern part of the grotto represents the 18 armed posture of dancing Shiva, also known as the Tandava form of the deity. These 18 armed dance posture represents the 9 postures of the famous Indian dance, Bharatnatyam.
- Another part of the cave temple consists of the Ardhashivara image, which is a composite form of Lord Shiva and his wife, Goddess Parvati. The image is flanked by the fine sculptures of Goddess Parvati, Bhringi, the follower of Lord Shiva and the Vahana (vehicle) of Lord Shiva, Nandi.
- The other side of the Cave 1 treasures a life-size sculpture of Lord Vishnu, in the form of Harihara along with the fine sculptures of his consort, Goddess Lakshmi and an image of Goddess Parvati.
- The pedestal of Cave 1 is adorned with the dwarf incarnations of Lord Ganesha; each sculpture depicting a different mood of Ganesha.
- The ceiling of the verandah of Cave 1 depicts the five hooded sculpture of Nagaraja, flanked by the beautiful image of the celestial couples.
- The pillars of the Cave 1 are also intricately carved. Besides the bead garlands, the pillars are decorated with images of Lord Narasimha, Lord Ganesha and small depiction of dream animals, known as iha mrigas in Hindu mythology.
- The inner face of the front beam of the verandah of Cave 1 depicts the glorious wedding ceremony of Goddess Parvati to Lord Shiva.
- The eave of the cave temple is decorated with fine sculptures of small animals.
- The Cave 1 and Cave 2 temples were constructed following the Northern Deccan style of architecture.
- Cave 2 is the replica of Cave 1 in its layout. This cave temple is primarily dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
- The Cave 2 consists of a large sculpture of Trivikrama, which is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The deity has one foot on the ground while the other is directed to the north.
- This cave also comprises other Avatars of Lord Vishnu, like Baraha and Krishna.
- The entrance to Cave 2 is adorned with the sculptures of two armed guardians, which surprisingly are seen to hold flowers instead of weapons.
- The columns of Cave 2 temple are adorned with stories of mythological battles, scenes of Samudra Manthan, images of Gajalakshmi, Lord Brahma and Vishnu, Bal Katha of Lord Krishna. The ceiling of Cave 2 is engraved with the image of a wheel with sixteen spokes along with swastika symbol and flying couples.
- Cave 3 is the largest cave of the group. This Cave temple is also dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Cave 3 is adorned with intricate carvings and each part of the cave temple narrates the mythological stories related to Lord Vishnu. This cave temple consists of a large Lord Vishnu statue seated on serpent Seesha.
- Cave 3 also depicts some of the Vesara styles of architecture. There are colored frescoes and paintings at the Cave 3 temple, along with motifs of Yantra Chakra, that is, geometric symbols.
- The cave depicts both Shaivism and Vaishnavism, due to the fused image of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva known as Harihara. The brackets of this cave temple are intricately carved with human figures, standing under trees.
- Cave 4 of the Badami group of cave temples is dedicated to Jainism. This cave temple is situated at a higher level than the other temples.
- The back of this cave temple treasures a sculpture of Mahavira seated on a lion throne. The statue is flanked with images of attendants with fans, saldulas and makara heads.
- The end wall of Cave 4 consists of a large statue of Lord Parshvanath, with a multi-headed cobra as his crown. The sculptures of Indrabhuti Gautama, Bahubali with snakes encircling both the images exhibit the finesse of Indian architecture. The inner walls of this cave temple consist of images of Jain Tirthankaras, Yakshas, Yakshis, and Padmavati.
- The Cave 3 and Cave 4 temples exhibit the Northern Nagara and Southern Dravidian style of architecture.
Badami Cave Temples Timings
- Badami Cave temple complex is open from dawn to dusk.
Festivals celebrated at the Badami Cave Temples
Festivals are not celebrated at the Badami Caves Temple. Badami is a culturally important city and several festivals are celebrated around the year.
- The Banashankari Temple Festival is celebrated near Badami during the months of January and February.
- The Virupaksha Temple Car Festival is celebrated at Pattadakal in the month of March.
- Mallikarjuna Temple Festival is celebrated at Pattadakal during the months of March and April.
Poojas and Rituals at Badami Cave Temples
The Badami Cave Temples are world heritage sites and at present pooja is not performed at these temples.
How to Reach: Road, Rail, and Air
The Badami Cave Temples are located 1 km from the main town. The site is easily accessible via air, rail, and roads.
- By Air: There are two airports located near Badami. The nearest airport to Badami is located at Hubli, Karnataka, which is 106 km from the city. The other airport is Belgaum, which is 150 km from the city. These airports are connected to the international airport of Bangalore and Mumbai. There are taxis and buses available at the airport which directly can take you to Badami.
- By Train: The nearest railway station to the Badami Cave Temples is the Badami railway station. This railway station connects the important cities of Bangalore, Hubli, Bijapur, Gadag, and Solapur to Badami. The nearest junction to Badami is Hubli railway station, which connects with other cities of the country. There is also direct railway connectivity from Bangalore (Yashawantapura Junction) to Badami. The Badami railway station is located at 5 km from the railway station.
- By Road: Badami is directly connected to Hubli, Dharwad, Belgaum, Bangalore, Bagalkot, Hampi and Bijapur via road. While Pune is at 470 km from Badami, Bangalore is at 464 km and Hyderabad at 420 km. Besides private and government buses, tourists can avail taxis to reach the Badami Cave Temples. Visitors can enjoy unique tonga rides (horse-driven vehicles) from the bus stand to the temple complex, while the auto-rickshaws are a faster mode of communication within the city.
Hotels in Badami: Where to Stay
Badami is a popular tourist destination and hence there are hotels of all price ranges. Hotel Badami Court, Hotel Rajsangam and Hotel Mookambika Deluxe are some of the decent hotels at Badami, which provide you with basic amenities and ensure a comfortable stay.
Where to Eat
Besides vegetarian food, both Chinese and continental cuisines are available at the eat-outs of Badami.
Badami treasures several ancient temples. Tourists can explore the following temples besides the Badami Cave Temples.
- Bhoothanatha Temples: Located at the banks of Agastya Lake, these temples are also built with sandstone. Dedicated to Lord Bhoothanatha, an incarnation of Lord Shiva, this temple complex also depicts fine carvings of Jain figures and avatars of Lord Vishnu.
- Mahakuta Temple: Located just a few kilometers from Badami, this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Built in Badami Chalukya style of architecture, this temple is important for the two inscriptions, one is the Pillar inscription and the other is the Porch inscription; these inscriptions narrate the history of the Chalukya dynasty.
- Sri Veerabhadra Temple: Located at Godachi, a village of the Belgaum district, this temple is dedicated to Lord Veerabhadra. A fusion of Chalukya and Vijaynagara architectural style, the site is known for the Godachi Jatra fair, held during November- December, the Hindu month of Karthik.
- The Banashankari Amma Temple: Located at the Bagalkot district, this temple is dedicated to Goddess Parvati. Built in the Dravidian style of architecture, the temple exhibits the unique deity with eight arms, seated on a lion while the defeated demon lies at her feet.
- Aihole: This city of Karnataka is popularly known as the ‘cradle of ancient Indian architecture.’ With 125 temples, this city depicts Nagara and the Dravidian style of architecture.
Hence, visit Badami Cave Temples to turn the pages of golden India.