Monday, April 27, 2009

Badami, Karnataka

The Badami Cave Temple Complex
The Badami Cave Temple Complex. View Large

Badami (Kannada: ಬದಾಮಿ), formerly known as Vatapi, is a taluk in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka, India. It was the regal capital of the Badami Chalukyas from 540 to 757 AD. It is famous for rock cut and other structural temples. It is located in a ravine at the foot of a rugged, red sandstone outcrop that surrounds Agastya lake.

The rock-cut Badami Cave Temples were sculpted mostly between the 6th and 8th centuries. The four cave temples represent the secular nature of the rulers then, with tolerance and a religious following that inclines towards Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. cave 1 is devoted to Shiva, and Caves 2 and 3 are dedicated to Vishnu, whereas cave 4 displays reliefs of Jain Tirthankaras. Deep caverns with carved images of the various incarnations of Hindu gods are strewn across the area, under boulders and in the red sandstone. From an architectural and archaeological perspective, they provide critical evidence of the early styles and stages of the southern Indian architecture.


We had reached Badami the previous night and acquired rather expensive air conditioned accommodation. The 'suite' was the only thing available, the manager had assured me. In the morning we left for the cave temple complex. The approach road is yet to be acquired, I think, by the govt. It passes through some extremely shoddy slums - so bad that I had turned back thinking I am on the wrong road. I ran over a black pig on this road and the kids gathered to watch it die.

Once inside the gates of the complex it is a different world. Here too, the complex was clean and immaculately maintained. But beware the monkeys. The caves are large and in very good shape with the sculptures intact. After the destruction we had seen in Hampi, this, with Aihole and Pattakdal, was good news.

It takes all morning to see the complex. There are 4 main caves. The Agastya lake at the bottom of the hills looked like a green jewel. We kept near other groups for fear of the monkeys.

It was good fun.

Shesasahi Vishnu, Badami
Shesasahi Vishnu View Large

Sheshnaag, Badami

Cave carvings, Badami

Varah, Badami
Vishnu in the Varah avatara

Mahivir as Vishnu, Badami
Mahivir as Vishnu

Mahavir, Badami

Mahavir, Badami

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