Badami Fort, a popular attraction of this area, is situated on the top of a hill, directly in front of the Badami Caves. This fort lies 2 km away from the main town and to the east of Bhootnath Temple. It was once the home of the kings of the Chalukyan Empire. Accessible only on foot, this fort has two Shivalaya complexes that were constructed in the 5th century by King Pulakesan II, who worshipped Lord Vishnu.
The upper Shivalaya is dedicated to Lord Shiva; whereas, the lower one is dedicated to Lord Ganesha. Visitors will see carved mythological tales on the exterior walls of upper Shivalaya, such as the elephant and the lion. A 16th century cannon belonging to Tipu Sultan is located to the north of lower Shivalayas that are in proximity of a 14th century watchtower. Counted among the must-see tourist spots of the area, the fort also has large granaries, a private hall, fortified walls and a secret underground chamber.
Banashankari Temple, said to be built by the Chalukyas of Kalyan in the 7th century, is located in proximity of Badami. As per the Skanda Purana and Padma Purana, the main deity of the temple, who killed a demon named Durgamasur at Banashankari, is an incarnation of Devi Parvati, the kuladevi of the Chalukyas. In Banashankari Temple, the idol of the goddess carved out of a black stone is seen seated on a lion with the demon crushed under her foot. The devi can be seen carrying a trishul, a ghanta, a kamaalpatra, a damaruga, a khadg-kheta and Veda scripts in her eight hands.
Though originally constructed in the 7th century, Banashankari Temple was rebuilt in the 17th century by Parsuram Agale, the chieftain of a Maratha clan. The ancient temple showcases the architecture of Dravidian style. It is suggested that tourists should visit this temple during the months of January and February, when locals arrange the festival of the temple car as the Pushya Mass. Located in Tilak Aranya Forest, this temple derives its name from two words, Ban and Shankari. The former word means “forest”, while the latter denotes to the Lord Shiva lover, a reference to Devi Parvati.
Bhutanatha Temple is one of the two major shrines of the Bhutanatha Group of Temples. This sandstone temple is extremely popular among devotees of Lord Shiva, who is worshipped here in his Bhutanatha avatar, God of Souls. The open mantapa (a hall or veranda) that stretches to the lake will remind tourists of the early South Indian Dravidian or North Indian Nagara styles of architecture.
The Badami Chalukyas are credited with building the inner shrine and mantapa in 7th century; whereas, the Kalyani Chalukyas erected the outer mantapa that is located opposite the Badami tank in 11th century. At the back of the temple, Jain figures and Lord Vishnu avatars carved in the rocks are present. This temple was constructed in the 5th century on the eastern side of the Agastya Lake, on top of a small hill; the shrine stands opposite the forts located in the vicinity.
The Mahakuta group of temples ,which is well known for it's Shaiva monastery, is located in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka. The temples date back to the 6th or 7th centuries CE and were constructed by the early kings of the Chalukya dynasty of Badami. Mahakuta is a place of religious and historic significance. The temples here are in the Badami Chalukyan style, reflecting the designs of temples in Aihole. The Mahakuta complex has provided historians two important 7th century inscriptions which makes it a historically relevant spot. The most important temple here is the Mahakuteshwara Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. It has a Shivalinga in the shrine topped by a curvilinear tower. In the temple courtyard, there are several other small temples as well. The walls are beautifully carved with the various forms of Lord Shiva.
Tourists visiting Badami must visit Archaeological Museum, which is among the main attractions of the town. This museum was built by the Archaeological Survey of India in 1979 and was initially used for preserving inscriptions, sculptures and explored material. However, in 1982, it was converted into a museum that exhibits a unique set of local sculptures. While taking a tour of the museum, they can see Lajja-Gauri figures of a fertility cult along with the primeval inscriptions that were made between 6th and 16th centuries.
This museum has four galleries that showcase Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu sculptures in different forms, Lord Ganpati and several scenes depicting Bhagwad Gita. A beautiful statue of Nandi, the ride of Lord Shiva, is placed at the entrance of the museum. This museum has four galleries; two are open, one in the front and one in the veranda. Shidlaphadi Cave is one of the galleries that reminds visitors of an ancient rock shelter. Along with stone artefacts, this gallery also displays prehistoric art and several inscriptions. There is an open veranda gallery where tourists can see hero stones, an attractive pair of Dwarapalaka images and inscriptions. Several epigraphs and architectural displays are present in the new gallery of the museum.
Malegitti Shivalaya, situated atop a rocky hill at a distance of 2 km from the town, is one of the oldest stone temples, dating back to 7th century. The temple is devoted to the garland maker. A gentle aspect of Lord Shiva and has been built without applying mortar. Its lower Shivalaya has a Dravidian tower, though only the sanctum of that structure is extant now.
Two inscriptions have been found here; one says that Aryaminchi Upadhyaya was the sculptor who created Malegitti Shivalaya, while the other, assigned to 1543, talks of the establishment of a stronghold during the reign of the Vijayanagaras. A large granary, double fortification walls, various architectural marvels and an underground chamber are also present here. Tourists are suggested to visit this temple, which is located inside Badami Fort, while passing by this town.
Shivayoga Mandira is located on the banks of Malaprabha river near Badami. A place with spiritual importance, the Shivayoga Mandir trains and educates the Veerashaiva Mathadhipathis and serves as an important place for the Veerashaiva Lingayats. Established in 1909, Shivayoga Mandira was renovated by His Holiness Mahatapasvi Shri Kumarswamiji. He was a great Yogi of remarkable achievements in the field of Yoga. He preached and propagated Shivayoga–technique of opening the third eye and praying.
Travellers going through Badami must visit the cave temples made of sandstone, which are known for intricate carvings that explain mythological and religious events and teachings. There are four temples, out of which the oldest temple is Cave Temple 1 that was built in 5th century CE. This temple has carvings of Shiva in his Ardhanareeswara and Harihara avatars, as well as his Nataraja incarnation performing the Tandava dance. Lord Shiva has been presented on the right of his Harihara avatar with Lord Vishnu on the left. Travellers visiting this cave temple can also see Mahishasura Mardini and Ganpati, Shivalingam and Shanmukha.
Cave Temple 2 is devoted to Lord Vishnu, who has been depicted in his Varaha and Trivikrama incarnations here. Scenes of Puranas showing Vishnu and his Garuda avatar can be seen at the ceiling of this temple. The 100 ft deep Cave Temple 3 has images of Lord Vishnu in the forms of Trivikrama and Narasimha. Additionally, tourists can see the image of the wedding ceremony of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati in frescoes. Cave Temple 4, a tribute to Jainism, has an image of Mahavira in a sitting position, along with a miniature Tirthankara Parshvanatha figure crafted within the cave.
While visiting Badami, travellers should also a take a trip to Dattatreya Temple if time permits. This 12th century temple is situated at Gandhi Chowk of Dharwad and can be reached easily from all sides. Also called Dattana Gidu, this temple is dedicated to Lord Dattatreya, who is showcased with three heads at the shrine. The deity is believed to be an incarnation of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, the Hindu trinity. It is well known among tourists for its Chalukyan style of architecture, which makes it one of the best structural temples of the region.
Mallikarjuna Temple, a part of Bhutanatha group of temples, is the second most prominent temple of the cluster. Located on the north-east side of Lake Agastya, this temple has a stepped superstructure, a common characteristic of the architectural work of Kalyani Chalukyas. The temple showcases features like horizontal tiers, pyramid superstructures, open mantapa covered by angled eaves and plain walls. It is suggested that travellers passing through Badami should include Mallikarjuna Temple in their itineraries.
It is suggested that tourists should stop by the vista points that are located on top of the north fort near Badami. The vista points offer them an unobstructed view of the entire ancient town from a single point.