Harihara – Fusion of Shiva and Vishnu
The image shows a large-size sculptural relief depicting Harihara is carved on the wall perpendicular to the sidewall on the right side of the mukhamantapa of Cave -3.
This is one of the most beautiful sculptural reliefs carved in the Badami caves. Adding to its beauty is the red and blue colored texture of the sandstone.
Harihara is a symbolical unification of Vishnu and Shiva and is a single entity made from half of Shiva’s and half of Vishnu’s features. Because of this fusion, the followers of both the Shaiva and Vaishnava traditions worship him.
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. One of the left hands carries a shanka (conch), a signature object of Vishnu, indicating that the left part of Harihara belongs to Vishnu. One of the right hands carries a staff with a serpent, and the right part of his crown has a half-moon, kapala (skull cup), and a serpent, indicating that the right part of Harihara belongs to Shiva.
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