Ancient Cave temples ( 6th and 7th C) of Badami, Karnataka,

Badami temples.

Above image:  Deep caverns with carved images of the various incarnations of Hindu gods are strewn across the area, under the hills made of red sandstone......

India, that belongs to the oldest civilization in the world, is endowed with thousands of monuments of sculptural wonder, artistry, and craftsmanship,  representing the multi-faceted Indian culture.  These  monuments dotted across India  are the reminders of our past heritage and zenith of our long nourished  civilization. The ruined temples of Badami are of particular interest.

Badami was the capital of the early Chalukyas rulers who ruled much of the regions that now come under Karnataka and  Maharastra, besides few parts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh between the 6th and 8th centuries. It was founded by Pulakesi I in 540 A. D. Later on,  his son, Kirthivarman (567-598 AD) and his brother Mangalesha I (598-610 AD) built amazing  rock-cut cave temples during their reign. The Chalukya kings were  not only great patrons of literature, arts and philosophy but also builders of beautiful temples that today stand as great  monuments of their glorious past and their heydays.

Previously known as Vatapi, Badami  was the capital of the Chalukyas from 540 to 757 AD and  is situated at a distance of about 500 km from Bangalore in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka. Once the center of ancient Chalukyan glory, it was  founded by Pulakesi, in the midst of rocky hills, the town has fascinating rock cut temples of artistic beauty   in a ravine at the foot of a rugged, red sandstone outcrops that surround Agastya lake. .Badami has been selected as one of the heritage cities for HRIDAY - Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana scheme of Government of India. The cave temples date back to 600  and 700 CE.

There are four   rock-cut  caves temples that were built between 6th and 8th centuries that showcase the secular nature of the rulers and the fusion of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.  They were all carved out in a huge rock cliff made of red  sandstone, a variety of  sedimentary rocks. Unlike igneous, volcanic and metamorphic rocks rocks, they are easily susceptible to weathering and erosion. However, here the sculptures are fairly in good shape despite their old age.The  first cave is dedicated to Lord Shiva, two and three to Lord Vishnu and the fourth one to  Jain Tirthankaras, those who conquer Samsara -the cycle of birth and death and help guide others to Moksha (liberation). There are numerous carved images of various incarnation of God

 Shiva Temple

 Above image: Cave 1 (543 AD) is a Shiva Temple and was the first to be excavated. The temple walls depict the family of Shiva including Durga Mahishamardini......

Upon entering the cave one can encounter a huge veranda with four rock columns beautifully sculpted.The first cave temple cut into the sandstone bed is made of a hall - Mandapa with several pillars and a square-shaped hallowed sanctum.

Here lord Shiva and his consort Parvathi are  seen with a coiled serpent. There are numerous paintings on the walls and ceiling, including those of amorous couples. Here, Shiva is represented by Lord Nataraja with 18 arms, each one carrying a weapon 
and some  have serpents coiled around them. The Goddess Mahishasuramardini is very interesting. She is fiery-looking, carrying a trident. There are carved images of God Ganesa and lord Subramaniya or Karthikaya.

Vishnu, Badami cave temples, Badami, Karnataka.en,

The second cave temple, built in the 6th century exemplifies the omnipresence of Lord. He is the master of the universe. Here, Lord Vishnu occupies the entire universe by stretching one  stride between the sky and the earth and the second stride between earth and the under world.On the ceiling are engraved Ananthashayana, Bramha, Vishnu, Shiva and Asthadikpalakas. At the entrance of the second cave there are two sentinels (Dwara Balakas) on either side with weapons in their hands.

Badami caves, third cave
The third one is devoted to Lord Vishu who is  various  incarnations - There are numerous carved images, depicting puranic events and of various incarnations - huge  figures of Paravasudeva, Bhuvaraha, Harihara and Narasimha. This cave emphasizes that Lord Vishu and Lord Shiva are one and the same -Sankaranarayana

Jain caves. with Tirthankaras.

Here the hall and the  veranda are dug up to 14.5 meters into the mountain. The front part is 21 meters wide and there are six strong columns in a row supporting the roof.

The fourth  cave, smaller among them, is dedicated to  Jaina saints; in the sanctum there is a huge image of Mahaveera. Also noticeable  are the Scores of Jaina  Thirthankara images engraved in the inner pillars and walls.

Mahavira. Badami temple cave
This 8th century caves also have idols of Bahubali, Yakshas and Yakshis.