The Badami cave temples are a complex of four Hindu, a Jain and possibly Buddhist cave temples located in Badami, a town in northern part of Karnataka. The caves are considered an example of Indian rock-cut architecture, especially Badami Chalukya architecture, which dates from the 6th century. Badami was previously known as Vataapi Badami, the capital of the early Chalukya dynasty, which ruled much of Karnataka from the 6th to the 8th century. Badami is situated on the west bank of a man made lake ringed by an earthen wall with stone steps; it is surrounded on the north and south by forts built in later times.
The Badami cave temples represent some of the earliest known examples of Hindu temples in the Deccan region. They along with the temples in Aihole transformed the Malaprabha River valley into a cradle of temple architecture that influenced the components of later Hindu temples elsewhere in India.
Caves 1 to 4 are in the escarpment of the hill in soft Badami sandstone formation, to the south-east of the town. In Cave 1, among various sculptures of Hindu divinities and themes, a prominent carving is of the Tandava-dancing Shiva as Nataraja. Cave 2 is mostly similar to Cave 1 in terms of its layout and dimensions, featuring Hindu subjects of which the relief of Vishnu as Trivikrama is the largest. The largest cave is Cave 3, featuring Vishnu-related mythology, and it is also the most intricately carved cave in the complex. Cave 4 is dedicated to revered figures of Jainism. Around the lake, Badami has additional caves of which one may be a Buddhist cave. Another cave was discovered in 2015, about 500 metres (1,600 ft) from the four main caves, with 27 Hindu carvings.
Aihole is a historic site of ancient and medieval era Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monuments in north Karnataka dated from the fourth century through the twelfth century CE. Located around an eponymous small village surrounded by farmlands and sandstone hills, Aihole is a major archaeological site featuring over one hundred and twenty stone and cave temples from this period, spread along the Malaprabha river valley, in Bagalakote district.
Aihole is 22 miles (35 km) from Badami and about 6 miles (9.7 km) from Pattadakal, both of which are major centers of historically important Chalukya monuments. Aihole, along with nearby Badami (Vatapi), emerged by the 6th century as the cradle of experimentation with temple architecture, stone artwork, and construction techniques. This resulted in 16 types of free-standing temples and 4 types of rock-cut shrines. The experimentation in architecture and arts that began in Aihole yielded the group of monuments at Pattadakal, a UNESCO world heritage site.
Over one hundred Aihole temples are Hindu, a few are Jain and one is Buddhist. These were built and coexisted in close proximity. The site is spread over about 5 square kilometres (1.9 sq mi). The Hindu temples are dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, Durga, Surya and other Hindu deities. The Jain Basadi temples are dedicated to Mahavira, Parshvanatha, Neminatha and other Jain Tirthankaras. The Buddhist monument is a monastery. Both Hindu and Jain monuments include monasteries, as well as social utilities such as stepwell water tanks with artistic carvings near major temples.
Pattadakal is a complex of 7th and 8th century CE Hindu and Jain temples in northern Karnataka. Located on the west bank of the Malaprabha River in Bagalakote district, this UNESCO World Heritage site is 14 miles (23 km) from Badami and about 6 miles (9.7 km) from Aihole. The monument is a protected site under Indian law and is managed by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
UNESCO has described Pattadakal as “a harmonious blend of architectural forms from northern and southern India” and an illustration of “eclectic art” at its height. The Hindu temples are generally dedicated to Shiva, but elements of Vaishnavism and Shaktism theology and legends are also featured. The friezes in the Hindu temples display various Vedic and Puranic concepts, depict stories from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Bhagavata Purana, as well as elements of other Hindu texts, such as the Panchatantra and the Kirātārjunīya. The Jain temple is only dedicated to a single Jina. The most sophisticated temples, with complex friezes and a fusion of Northern and Southern styles, are found in the Papanatha and Virupaksha temples. The Virupaksha temple is an active house of Hindu worship.
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