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The Caves of Badami

First Online: February 01, 2002
Page Last Updated: May 09, 2017

About eighty miles on the Hubli-Sholapur route is located the picturesque town of Badami with lakes and sandstone hills. But what is truly noteworthy about Badami, are the four rock cut temples of rare sculptural excellence.

© K. L. Kamat
Shiva and his bull vehicle Nandi
Shiva and his bull vehicle Nandi

Cave 1

Dedicated to Lord Siva , it has pillars with square bases with carvings on the upper parts. Among the figures are Ganas, the dwarf attendants of Siva. There is a fine carving of Nataraja (dancing Siva) as the cosmic dancer with 16 arms suggesting the rhythm of the dance. The magnificent display of the Hindu Pantheon shows Vishnu with  four arms; Ardhanarinateshwara, the divine androgyny who is half Shiva and half Parvati; Nandi, Shiva's bull; Bhringi, a skeleton; Durga vanquishing the buffalo demon; Ganapati, the elephant headed God and Skanda, both sons of Shiva and Parvati; a large cobra's head and a Lingam.

Cave 2

Dedicated to Vishnu and his avatars (incarnations) the temple door is guarded by two stone door-keepers (dwarapalakas, see also: Gate-keeper in Indian Art). The avatars include --Varaha the boar who rescued earth from deluge; Vamana, the dwarf who dominated the entire universe to rescue earth from a demon; Vishnu the four-armed deity riding his mount Garuda (the king eagle) and  at the top of the wall Krishna, the cowherd prince. The  ceiling panels incorporate swastika and fish wheel motifs.

Cave 3

This temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is located at the foot of a rock face and has a carved facade. Inside, on the pillars are carved the same gods as in the first cave temple plus many others, Narasimha, the half lion avatar of Vishnu; Hari-Hara, the composite god who is half Siva and half Vishnu; Vishnu-Narayana depicted sitting as well as reclining on the snake, Shesha or Ananta (eternity). All the carvings are dated back to 578 A.D. There are some excellent frescoes which, though faded, speak of their past glory.

Cave 4

This is believed to be a later construction and is dedicated to Jain deities. The front of the cave is an overhanging cornice, hewn from the rock. On the left of the vestibule is a huge figure of the Jain saint Parshwanatha. On the right is another sage surrounded by snakes. In the shrine is a figure of Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, in a meditative pose.

See Also:


The Chalukyas

Chalukyan Art
A Pattadkal sculptureRomance of Shiva and ParvatiMan Offers Ring to GirlfriendRomance of Shiva and Parvati
Lad Khan Temple, AiholeUnique Temple of Aihole, 7th Century A.D.Shiva and his bull vehicle NandiA Chalukyan Miniature Painting
Shiva with his bullShiva Killing an Asura, Badami SculptureDesigns from a Pattadakal TempleA rural couple sitting on a cot caress each other

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