Badami cave temples are a group of four ancient temples in Badami, in Bagalkot district of Karnataka State, India. It is the top-most Karnataka site, as far as tourism is considered.
Considered to be of Indian Badami Chalukya rock-cut Architecture, Cave temples at Badami were built by Chalukya dynasty kings, in between the 6th and 7th centuries. The cave temples are carved in the sandstone hills.
Badami cave temples consist of four caves on a hill cliff. Cave No 1 is dedicated to Lord Shiva, Cave 2 and Cave 3 are dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Cave no 4 is a Jain temple.
All four Badami caves are simple in style. These temple’s architecture is a mixture of North Indian Nagara and South India Dravida styles. Each cave has its own Varandah (walk way), Hall, Pillars, and a small square shrine.
At a distance of 2 kilometers from the town is Badami Fort, which also has a carved temple, which shows excellent petroglyph skills prevalent in those days.
The 5th-century Agastya-Tirtha Lake located beneath the cave temples is considered holy due to the healing powers of its water. This tank, situated adjacent to the temple, is considered highly sacred.
Archaeological Museum is another place of interest at 5 kilometers from the town.
Cave 1 – Lord Shiva Cave Temple
‘Sivathandavam’ sculpture welcomes you to Cave 1. Lord Shiva depicted here has 18 hands! Each hand corresponds to each ‘mudra’ (hand gesture) of Bharathanatyam, an Indian classical dance. There many other sculptures also inside this cave temple
Cave 2 – Lord Vishnu Cave Temple
Cave two has two major sculptures. One is that of “Varaha”. Varaha is the incarnation of god Vishnu in the shape of a boar, to rescue goddess earth from the giant demon, Hiranyaksha.
Second one is that of “Vamana” alias “Trivikrama”, the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Cave two is comparatively smaller than the other three caves.
Cave 3 – Another Lord Vishnu Cave Temple
This the largest cave temple, among the four cave temples at Badami. Steps leading the third cave temple takes you to a magnificent courtyard. You will become spellbound on seeing the Agastha lake and the Bhoothanath temple in the backdrop of huge mountains, from here.
The sculpture here is that of Lord Vishnu sitting at “Vaikuntha”, the celestial abode of Lord Vishnu. The pillars of the halls are having fine carvings. There are countless sculptures on the walls, ceilings, etc. Remains of Mural paintings can also be seen here in this cave temple.
It is written in this cave temple that construction of this temple was completed on November 1st, 578 AD, by Chalukya King Mangaleswaran.
Cave 4 – Jain Cave Temple
Cave number 4 is a Jain temple. The sculpture of “Bahubali” is the main attraction here.
Even though Cahaluka kings were Hindus, the subjects consisted of “Jains” also. (Jain is a caste in India.) Hence this temple was constructed for the Jain community here.
Unlike other cave temples, this cave temple has an outside wall. Those days, Jain saints were naked. Therefore, to avoid disturbances to those coming to the other three cave temples, an outside wall was constructed for this cave temple.
Little Bit History About Badami and Chalukya Dynasty
Badami was originally known as “Vathapi”. It is believed that in the course of time, it became Badami. Some others say that the name was derived from the color of the rocks there. These rocks are having the color of almonds, which is known as Badam in south India.
Chalukya dynasty was established by Pulikeshin I, who reigned from 543–566 AD. He chooses Vathapi as the capital of his newly established kingdom. He built the fort on the hill top.
Pulikeshin II was the most powerful Chalukya king. He was the grandson of Pulikeshin I. He defeated his uncle Mangaleswaran in a war and became the ruler of the Chalukya dynasty. He extended his kingdom across the south and central India, from Maharashtra to Tamilnadu. Chalukyas reigned over two decades, across most of the Deccan plateau. Keerthi Varman II was the last Chalukya king who was defeated in a war in AD 757.
How I Go to Badami Cave Temples?
Badami is accessible by road, train, etc. You can book train tickets to Badami Railway station in the official Indian Railway ticket booking web site, irctc.co.in. The station code for Badami is BDM. Badami town is around 5 kilometers from the Badami railway station. Auto rickshaws are available for hire in front of the railway station. Shared autos are also available.
Badami is a small town. You can walk from your hotel room to the caves. The roads are not that neat and a lot of pigs roam around the roads. If you want to avoid this, hire an auto-rickshaw and go to the cave temples.
It is advisable to hire a guide, as it helps in knowing full details about the cave temples, its history, etc.
The nearest town Hubli is at around 97 kilometers away. The Nearest Airport is at Belgaum.
A word of cation; money near the caves may snatch your bags, water bottles, eatables, etc.
Hotels near Badami Cave Temples
Mayura Chalukya is a hotel owned by Karnataka state tourism development corporation in Badami. It is a budget hotel with a good restaurant.
There are many other hotels also in this small village.
Are you going to Badami, to see the magnificent cave temples there? Please leave your comments below.