Cave Temples of Badami: Cave – 2

Matsya Chakra - A wheel with fish spokes carved on the ceiling of Cave - 2 located on a soft sandstone hill near Badami in Karnataka, India.

Located on the red sandstone hills of Badami in Karnataka, India, the cluster of four rock-cut cave temples are and impressive work of religious art and a show case of Chalukya temple architecture.

This page describes Cave -2. Check these pages for a detailed explanation of the other three caves:

  1. Cave – 1: Shiva Temple
  2. Cave – 3: Maha Vishnu Temple
  3. Cave – 4: Jaina Temple

Cave -2: Vishnu Temple

Cave – 2 is at a higher elevation than Cave – 1, and the approach to Cave – 2 is through steps that are on the left side of the Cave – 1 entrance. The access to the temple is through a flight of stairs from the courtyard.

Facade and Entrance of Cave - 2 located at Badami in Karnataka, India
Facade and Entrance of Cave – 2
Ground plan of Cave - 2 located at Badami in Karnataka, India
Ground plan of Cave – 2

No inscriptions exist regarding the date of excavation or completion of this cave. The cave temple was most-likely completed in the late 6th century or early 7th century.

Cave-2 is comparable in size and similar in design to Cave – 1, but unlike Cave – 1, it is dedicated to Vishnu. Just like Cave – 1, it has a garbhagriha at the back, sabhamantapa in the middle, and an open mukhamantapa in front.

Varahavatara

Sculptural relief depicting Varahavatara, Vishnu's third avatara, carved on the left side wall of Cave - 2 in Badami, Karnataka, India
Sculptural relief depicting Varahavatara carved in Cave – 2

The image shows a sculptural relief depicting the story of Varahavatara, the third of the ten avatars of Vishnu, carved on the left sidewall of the mukhamantapa (verandah). Varaha in Sanskrit means wild boar. In this avatar, he assumes the form of a wild boar and rescues Bhudevi (Mother Earth) from an evil demon named Hiranyaksha, who was tormenting her.

As you can see from the image, Vishnu as Varaha is lifting Bhudevi while Hiranyaksha lay dying on the ground killed by Vishnu.

The story of Varahavatara is a popular theme in both the Chalukya and Holysals temples. Cave – 3 of this cave complex also has the Varahavatara relief carved on its wall.

Vamanavatara

The image shows the sculptural relief depicting the story of Vamanavatara, the fourth of the ten avatars of Vishnu, carved on the left side wall of the mukhamantapa (verandah) of Cave – 2. Vishnu takes two forms in this avatar:

  1. Dwarf brahmin holding a wooden umbrella
  2. Gigantic Trivikrama taking a giant stride. In this avatar, Vishnu curbs the powers of the asura king Mahabali and relegates him to Patala (Netherworld).
Vamanavatara relief depicting Mahabali, Vamana, and Trivikrama in Cave - 2 in Badami, Karantaka, India
Vamanavatara relief depicting Mahabali, Vamana, and Trivikrama in Cave – 2 in Badami.

Mahabali is seen clinging to Trivikrama’s leg as he takes a giant stride. Vamana, who is holding a wooden umbrella, is seen standing under Trivikrama’s extended leg at the site where Mahabali is performing yagna to please Vishnu. Attending him are the other brahmins who are holding materials to offer them as sacrifices at the yagna pyre.

Note: Yagna is a Hindu religious ceremony performed by the priests (brahmins) in front of a ritual fire. It includes the ritual in which sacrificial materials are poured into the fire as priests chant hymns from the sacred texts.

Cave – 3 of this cave complex also has the large-size Vamanavatara relief carved on its walls.

Matsya Chakra (Fish Wheel)

Matsya Chakra - A wheel with fish spokes carved on the ceiling of Cave - 2 located on a soft sandstone hill near Badami in Karnataka, India.
Matsya Chakra – A wheel with fish spokes

This eye-catching relief, known as Matsya Chakra (Fish Wheel), is carved on the ceiling of the mukhamantapa. The Matsya Chakra is a wheel consisting of a hub at the center and 16 spokes of fish enclosed by a rim carved with patterns of flowers and leaves. The hub is a medallion carved with the lotus flower pattern. Surrounding the Matsya Chakra are the two concentric square frames carved with intricate patterns.

Flanking the Matsya Chakra relief on the left and right sides are the reliefs consisting of swastika patterns.

Maze of Swastika Patterns

Swastika patterns and the Samudra Manthana frieze carved on the celing of Cave - 2 located at Badami in Karnataka, India
Swastika patterns and the Samudra Manthana frieze

The image shows a pattern consisting of swastikas carved on the ceiling of the mukhamantapa. As you can see from the image, it is situated above a beam carved with the Samudra Manthana story and next to the Matsya Chakra relief (not visible). There is a similar relief with the swastika patterns on the other side of the Matsya Chakra relief.

Proceed to Cave – 3

Related Pages
Badami
Badami Cave – 1, Badami Cave – 3, Badami Cave – 4

Copyright © 2019 by Lawrence Rodrigues. All rights reserved.

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