Badami is a small town that is situated in Bagalkot District of Karnataka state. The town was once the royal capital of the Chalukya Dynasty and is a place filled with various temples, monuments and cultural heritage.
The town is covered in red, as the city is surrounded by red arenaceous rocks and is heavily a red-soiled land.
The Chalukyas made Badami their capital while they ruled Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh during 610-642 AD. The Chalukyas are considered to be the best architects of their time, and they had built some incredible temples which are inspired by the Dravidian style of architecture.
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At present, one can find 4 cave temples with sacred tanks which were built out from big red rocks found in the region. Various festivals are held here to attract tourists. For a person who loves to explore the place with its architecture, cultural diversity and traditional arts, Badami provides all of these.
The best time to visit Badami is during the months of September to February.
The place is well connected by road, train and by air. The nearest airport is Belgaum, which is about 150 km from here and several flights operate to Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Chennai along with other major cities.
The nearest railway station is about 5 km from the town and has trains which operate to major cities such as Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Solapur to name a few.
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There are several buses which are run by the KSRTC and private tour operators that ply regularly from Bengaluru (449 km), Hubli (105 km) and Belagavi (155 km).
Badami was formerly known as Vatapi. As per the stories of the Puranas, it is said that a wicked asura by the name Vatapi was killed by the sage Agastya and from then on the place was called Vatapi.
The famous Carnatic song of "Vatapi Ganapathim Bhaje" is dedicated to the Ganesha which was brought from Badami to Thanjavur by the Pallavas after defeating the Chalukyas in the 7th century.
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The rock-cut cave temples were mostly sculpted between the 6th and 8th centuries. The four cave temples stand as a representation of the secular nature of the rulers, with high tolerance and religious following that incline towards Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
Cave 1 in Badami is dedicated to Shiva, Caves 2 and 3 are dedicated to Vishnu and Cave 4 is dedicated to the Jain Tirthankaras.
Badami is famous for its four sandstone caves.
This cave may be considered as the oldest amongst the four caves in Badami. Made out of red sandstone, it has a hall with numerous pillars and a square-shaped sanctum hollowed into the back wall.
One can find erotic paintings on the ceiling and carvings of Shiva and Parvathi with a coiled serpent and the 18 armed Nataraja in 81 different dancing poses.
In the front of the second cave, one can find the Dwarapalakas or the guards who can be seen holding lotuses in their hands. The cave is dedicated to Vishnu in his avatar of Trivikrama or Vamana, with one foot over the earth and the other over the sky. One can also notice that there are carvings of Varaha and Krishna.
The third cave is also dedicated to Vishnu, it is the biggest and the best out of the lot and has splendid figures of Paravasudeva, Bhuvaraha, Harihara and Narasimha.
All the statues are engraved in a very fine style. An inscription found here states that Mangalesha was the patron of the cave and it was constructed in 578 AD.
Also Read : Historic Town Of Badami
The fourth cave is Jaina and lies in the eastern side of cave 3. The sanctum has an idol of Mahavira, the pedestal has an old Kannada inscription which dates back to the 8th century AD. There are many images of Jain Thrithankaras engraved in the inner pillars and walls.
In addition, there are idols of Bahubali, Yakshas and Yakshis.
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This group of temples are a cluster of sandstone shrines dedicated to the deity Bhutanatha. There are two major temples here, the temple No. 1 on the east side of the lake is called the Bhuthanatha temple.
This temple is a structure that resembles the early South Indian style of temple architecture with its open hall which extends into the lake.
Also Read : Tranquil Vistas Of Bhutanatha Temple In Badami
The temple No. 2 is smaller and is on the Northeast side of the lake and is called the Mallikarjuna group of temples, which has a stepped structure that is a common feature found in the Kalyani Chalukya constructions.
The inner shrine and mantapa at temple No. 1 were constructed in the late 7th century during the reign of the Badami Chalukyas, while the outer mantapa, which faces the lake, was completed during the rule of Kalyani Chalukyas in the 11th century.