Badami Caves – Rocks That Speaks
Situated in the once mighty capital of Chalukya Empire, Badami; the caves are the most stupendously carved caves in South India. Carved on top of a hill, there are four major caves. These are not just plain caves; they are temples dedicated to different religions. They generally are temples dedicated to Hindu and Jain temples. All the four caves are carved out of Deccan sandstone. They were built by the Chalukya Empire around 6th century. The architecture of these caves shows a mixture of North Indian Nagara style and South Indian Nagara. Apart from the caves, there are many temples on the banks of an artificial lake, on which Badami town is located. The lake is named ‘Agasthya Tirtha’. Some of these temples were built at the same time along with caves and date back to 7th century. The temples are dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and Lord Mahavir Swamy. There is an archaeological museum maintained by ASI, which shows many sculptures of the Chalukyan era. However the main attraction without a doubt are the four magnificent caves.
Carved in 578 AD, this is probably the oldest of the four caves. As you climb 40 odd steps, you come across a hall full of pillars and a square shaped sanctum. From top to bottom, the cave is filled with splendid carvings and paintings that will mesmerize you, the moment you get a glimpse of them. Apart from the walls, even the ceilings have some exceptional art work. The ceiling has painting of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Verandah has a painting of Lord Shiva as Nataraja. The Lord is shown with 18 hands and in 81 dance poses.
Cave 2 is situated just above cave 1 and is a cave temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. You will find different forms of Lord Vishnu portrayed here. Lord Vishnu is shown as Trivikrama. The image is shown with one foot conquering the earth and the other covering the sky. There is another image of Lord Vishnu in incarnation as Varaha, ‘a boar’. Then there is one that is in form of Lord Krishna, riding a Garnda and the lotus encircled by 16 fishes.
Few more steps above Cave 2, is the biggest and most attractive caves of the four caves. Dating back to 578 AD, the cave has paintings and sculptures of both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. You also get to see some inscriptions that tell us that the cave was built by Mangalesha. The front of the cave is nearly 70 feet wide with some exquisite carvings. Inside, there are images of Trivikrama, Narasimha, Shankaranarayana, Bhuvaraha, Anantasayana, Harihara and many carvings of Ganas.
This is the only Jain Temple among the four Badami Caves. It is situated to the east of other three caves and its construction was completed nearly 100 years after the other three were completed. There is a magnificent image of Lord Mahavira inside the sanctum. There is an image of Lord Parsvanath with a serpent at his feet. Images of Padmavathi and tirthankaras can also be seen inside the cave. Near the cave, are the steps that lead to Badami Fort, another interesting attraction of the town.
Badami as a town has become a great tourist spot in Karnataka. Apart from the magnificent caves, there are many other attractions inside the town like temples, forts and the artificial lake; all deserving your attention and accolades.