Cave Temples of Badami- Masterpieces of Chalukya Temple Art
Carved out of the red sandstone hills overlooking the beautiful Agastya Lake, the four caves temples of Badami standout among the cave temples in India – including Ajantha-Ellora caves, Karla caves, Elephanta caves, and Barabar caves – because of the stunning scenic beauty around them, colorfulness of red sandstones in which they are carved, and the beauty of the carvings.
The cave temples were constructed by meticulously carving out the stone material from rock to create beautiful structures, sculptures, and sculptural reliefs. They are an impressive work of art, and visiting them is a fascinating experience. It is mind-boggling how the ancient Indians were able to create such magnificent structures without the aid of sophisticated machinery or tools.
The cluster of four caves are next to each other and connected via flights of steps and labeled accordingly as Cave – 1 to Cave – 4 based on the sequence of approach to the caves. In other words, you would visit Cave – 1 first and Cave – 4 last.
The chronological order of their construction is not known because of the lack of inscriptions. Only Cave – 3 has inscription detailing its dating. However, it is generally believed that they were constructed in the same sequence as their approach.
This page is about Cave – 1. Check the following pages for a detailed explanation of the other three caves:
Cave – 1: Shiva Temple
Dated approximately 550 CE, Cave – 1 is the first of the four rock-cut caves on the Badami hills. It is a
Excavated from the massive red sandstone boulder at 60ft from the
The ground plan of Cave -1 shows
Nataraja performing Tandava Nritya
This sculptural relief shown in the image is carved on the right side of the entrance and depicts Nataraja (Dancing King), a form of Shiva, performing the Tandava Nritya, a vigorous cosmic dance of creation, preservation, and destruction.
As you can see, Nataraja is standing with a dancing pose on a lotus flower pedestal, and his 18 hands carry a variety of objects, including a
Dwarapala with Shiva-Parvati and Vrishabha-Kunjara
The image shows a left-side view of Cave – 1. The carving in the middle is a
To the right of dwarapala are the pillars of the mukhamantapa (verandah) and to the left are the flights of steps to Cave – 2.
Ardhanarishvara and Sage Bhringi
The image shows a sculptural relief depicting the story of Ardhanarisvara carved on the right-side wall of the
Standing with the Tribhanga stance (i.e., body bent in three places, neck, waist, and knee) is Ardhanarishvara with man-like features on the right half and woman-like features on the left half. Ardhanarishvara appears to be playing a musical instrument.
Standing behind with the folded hands (i.e., namaste gesture) is Bhringi, a sage who appears like a skeleton with three legs, and Nandi, Shiva’s vehicle. To his right is an unidentified female figure carrying a bowl with her left hand. Flying above Ardhanarishvara are two Vidyadhara couples.
Harihara – Fusion of Shiva and Vishnu
This beautifully carved sculptural relief depicting Harihara is on the left wall of the
As you can see from the image, Harihara is carved with Shiva’s features on the left side and Vishnu’s features on the right side. Shiva’s wife Parvati and his vehicle Nandi are standing on the right side of Harihara. Likewise, Vishnu’s wife Lakshmi and his vehicle Garuda are standing on the other side.
The image shows a beautifully carved relief on the ceiling of the
The image shows an interior view of Cave – 1. At the far end, it shows the entrance to the
Proceed to Cave -2 …
Copyright © 2019 by Lawrence Rodrigues. All rights reserved.