Badami Caves by all means is a hidden gem of Karnataka. It is a spectacular architectural wonder from 6th century AD. These caves are located in Badami town in Bagalkot district of Karnataka. As far as history is concerned, Badami was initially known as Vatapi and was the capital of the Regal Chalukyas who ruled much of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh between the 6th and 8th centuries.
Badami was founded in 540 AD by Pulakesi I (535-566 AD), an early ruler of the Chalukyas. His sons Kirthivarman and his brother Mangalesha I constructed these spectacular cave temples. The song ‘ek lo ek muft’ form famous Mani Ratnam directed Hindi movie ‘Guru’ had been shot here.
Badami Caves constitutes of four cave-temples. Three of them are dedicated to Hindu Gods and the fourth is dedicated to Jain religion. Cave 3 is the largest of the lot and it is dedicated to Vishnu.
Cave 2 is the smallest which is again dedicated to Lord Vishnu, and Cave 1 is dedicated to Siva. The Jain cave-temple is the fourth temple located at the top of the hill.
Badami Cave temple 1
Cave temple 1 was the first of the four temples which was excavated in rock by Chalukya craftsmen in 550AD. This temple is located to Lord Shiva.
These caves are artistically excavated among red rocky mountains which looks very familiar to the famous Great Canyon of US. At the entrance of the Cave Temple 1, you can notice this spectacular rock carved statue of 18 armed Siva demonstrating 9 dance postures.
The temple constitutes of a pillared hall with a Nandi in the center. The hall has a stone platform and inside in a small room set up lies the Siva Linga.
The walls of cave temple 1 are beautifully crafted with lots of Gods and Goddesses statues. One can witness Ganesha, Ardhanareeshwara, Parvati, Nandi, Durga Mahisasura Mardhini etc.
Apart from the walls the ceilings provides the ultimate example of the finest art work of that period. The most attractive one being the five hooded Nagaraja is carved in the hall’s ceiling.
Badami Cave Temple 2
Cave 1 and 2 are merely separated by few steps uphill. These steps are constructed between two huge sandstone rocks which are of almond colour. People believe, that due to this almond coloured rocks; the place has got its name Badami.
Cave 2 is smallest of the lot which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. In this cave, one can see the Lord Vishnu is depicted in his various avatars. At the either side of the temple walls, one can witness that dwarapalaka (the guardian deity).
Like cave temple 1, temple 2 also has a hall supported by rectangular pillars. These pillars are beautifully and minutely excavated
with hammers and chisels. The room inside the temple (probably where the Lord’s statue was placed) lies empty. One can witness the phenomenal sculptures of eight hands Trivikrama holding various weapons like shield, bow, arrows, sword etc.
Vamana as a dwarf holding his umbrella stands to the left of Trivikrama and receives the gift being given to him by Bali. The second major sculpture is the Vishnu’s avatar of a boar.
Watch out for the sculptures in every temple’s ceiling.
Many tourists/travelers tend to miss them. The ceiling sculptures are unique and spellbound in each temple.
Badami Cave Temple 3
This is the biggest of the lot and the most beautiful temple. From Cave 2 you have to take stairs uphill for reaching the Cave 3. There is a small door through which you need to pass through to enjoy the beauty of cave 3
From the temple’s corridor, one can witness the spectacular views of Badami Fort, almond coloured mountains, holy water tank- Agastya Teertha and an amazing view of the Bhoothnatha Temple.
Badami Cave Temple 3 is believed to be excavated in 578 – 580 AD. This temple is also dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The structure of this cave temple is familiar to the previous two temples.
It has huge halls, supported by rectangular pillars. The carvings in the pillars are marvelous and show the tremendous art work.
Even the base platform of the temple is beautifully excavated, which adds charm to the elevated platform. On the right side of the outside wall, one can witness the familiar Trivikrama statue carved on the rock.
It is indeed crafted beautifully and even after so many centuries, these carvings seem to not lose their glory and shine. The pillars of this temple are beautifully excavated.
The pillar ceilings are also designed to perfectly. The pillars of temple 3 are the most outstanding among the four set of Badami Cave temples. On the left side of the outer temple wall, you can witness a huge statue of Vishnu.
In this cave temple, you can witness some excavation on the floor as well. Inside the temple, there rock inscription in Kannada language done by the Chalukya king Mangalesa. These inscriptions are believed to be done in 578 AD. In the temple, there is a huge statue of Narashima.
There is one statue of four handed Vishnu depicted as well. This temple is beautifully excavated with various Vishnu avatars. One can witness the same boar headed avatar of Vishnu, another avatar with the Shesnaag hood.
This is the only temple, where you can witness some traces of paintings done on these statues.
Though most of the paint has been damaged, but you can still visualize, the wonderful form of this temple in 6th century with all these paints in full glow.
The architectural wonders in these temples are just unbelievable and one needs to see them to visualize and witness them.
Badami Cave Temple 4
It will definitely need a lot of determination to take your interest away from the Cave Temple 3 to move on to witness the last cave temple. This is dedicated to Jainism, and this cave temple has carvings of Mahavira.
Inside the cave temple, one can witness a huge Mahavira statue carved in the wall. There is a statue of Digambara Jain statue as well.
The temple walls and pillars are again beautifully excavated and display the beliefs of Jainism. This temple is not as large as that of Cave Temple 3, but it has a unique touch to it.
How to reach Badami caves ?
Badami Caves is located hardly 2KM from the Badami Bus Stand. You can take an auto or rather walk to this wonderful attraction. If you are planning for a Badami trip, then you can decide to have your stay arranged near the Badami Bus Stand.
This is the epicenter of the town and there are lots of hotels around the bus stand. Badami has a railway station and it is well connected with major cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, Trivandrum, Hyderabad etc. Badami is an offbeat place which will definitely leave you spell bound.
Nearby Badami, other attractions include Aihole, Pattadakal, Badami Fort, Bhoothnatha Temple and Archeological Museum.
Entry fees for Indians are Rs. 10, and admission is free for children under the age of 15. Entry fees for foreigners are Rs.100. There are no charges for Camera (still photography) but videography is prohibited.
There are ample space for parking and the parking fees is Rs. 20. This place has lot of monkeys, so beware of the monkey menace and avoid any etables.