Badami hidden cave #5

Ancient Cave Temples Of Badami: A Photo Journey

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Between the 6th and the 8th century, Badami was the capital of the kingdom ruled by the Chaukyan dynasty. During their reign, the capital city was filled with an abundance of craftsmen and artisans whose work can be seen even today. The four cave temples of Badami are quite underrated but are one of the most intriguing places historians or explorers can visit in India. The caves stand out in terms of their location, intricate architecture, and significant history. The graceful sculptures and the fine paintings in this region are a site to behold.

In 1964 Stella Kramrisch discovered the Badami caves. Situated on the South Sandstone Fort Hill near Agasthya Lake, the place has a lot to offer. Don’t believe us? Well, let us take you through the different facets of these cave temples while also helping you plan your trip to this ancient city. 

Badami Cave Temples

Badami Picture Map of all the places

How To Reach Badami?

Roadways and railways are the best ways to reach Badami, Karnataka.

By Air

Although Hubbali Domestic Airport (Airport code: HBX, 99 Km) is the nearest airport, Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru (Airport code: BLR, 428 Km) has good connectivity to flights all over the world. From the Bengaluru Airport, you have to go to Kempegowda Bus Terminus and then board another direct bus to Badami.

By Rail

Badami Railway Station (Station code: BDM, 4 Km) is the nearest railway station. Tuk-tuks and buses are available from the station to the cave temples. Trains from nearby cities such as Bangalore and Vijayapura stop here for a few minutes for the passengers to board and get down.

By Road

Buses are available from different cities and towns in Karnataka. A few of them include Bangalore, Hospete, and IIlkal, to name a few. However, these buses aren’t frequent. So you must ask for bus timings and the first and last buses that reach/leave Badami. After reaching the Badami Bus Stand, you’ve to walk for about 1 Km to the ticket counter near cave temple #1. Alternatively, you can hop onto a tuk-tuk from the bus stand to the site.

If you have your own vehicle, just mark Badami on Google Maps and head straight toward the destination.

Languages Spoken

Since Badami resides in Karnataka, the locals’ primary language is Kannada. However, most people also speak Hindi. Very few people communicate in English.

Network Availability

You need not worry about the signal strength as Airtel and Jio has excellent network connectivity in Badami.

ATM Availability

There are a few ATMs spread across Badami. Although the entry fees could be paid online or by cash, having some cash with you is best. Most shops in the region accept digital payments via UPI apps.

Best Time To Visit Badami

Cave temples of Badami

The best time to visit Badami and its rock-cut cave temples is between September and December. During summer, you might get drained and fatigued quite easily; during monsoons, the terrain will be slippery and dangerous. So, the post-monsoon season is the best time to visit the cave temples.

Where To Stay?

There are very few accommodations available in Badami. We stayed at Rajsangam International ($). The rooms were good but had poor WiFi. A few other recommended stays in Badami include:

 

Where To Eat?

Many eateries are available opposite the bus stand. We ate at the same hotel where we stayed. The quality and taste were good, and we had a decent meal. You can also try different eateries that are located nearby.

Parking Facilities

A huge parking space is available near the ticket counter.

Restroom & Cloakroom Availability

Well-maintained restrooms are available opposite the ticket counter near Cave Temple #1.

Cost

Entry fees can be paid by cash or online payments. For the latter, you must scan the QR code at the ticket counter near cave temple #1. You can also visit https://asi.paygov.org.in and follow the simple steps given on the portal.

  • Entry Fee for cave temples: INR 25 for Indian citizens, INR 25 for SAARC/ BIMSTEC citizens, INR 300 for foreign citizens, FREE for children below 15 years of age
  • Entry fee for Archaeological Museum: INR 5
  • Photography for personal use (without a tripod): Free 
  • Videography for personal use: INR 25
  • Film shooting: INR 50,000 per day and security deposit of INR 10,000

Please note that the tickets purchased are valid only on the date of purchase.

Twin’s tip: If the tickets are purchased online, Indians and foreigners can get a discount of INR 5 and INR 50 respectively.

Timings

  • Cave temples: 6 AM – 6 PM, open on all days
  • Archaeological museum: 9 AM – 5 PM, closed on Fridays

Guide

You can hire a licensed guide for about INR 1000 near the ticket counter. If you want to delve deep into the history and the architectural significance of the cave temples, you can get a guide for the aforementioned fee.

About The Rock Cut Cave Temples Of Badami

Badami cave temples - full view
  • The first four caves are located close to each other, while the recently discovered cave #5 is 500 m away.
  • Paved staircases connect the first 4 caves. Cave #5 can be reached by a short hike from behind the Sri Bhootanaatha Gudi.
  • Descriptions about each cave are kept at the entrance in Kannada, Hindi, and English.
Rock cut cave temples of Badami - cave 1
  • These cave temples consist of a rectangular pillared verandah (Mukha-Mandapa), a square-ish pillared hall (Maha-Mandapa), and a small square-like cell (Garbha-Griha) at its rear. All these co-exist in an axial plane, are entirely rock-cut, and comprise flat-roofed mandapa-type temples. The facade opening is wide and sufficiently high. The facade pillars are tall, massive, and often carved.

Now that you have a brief idea about the cave temples let us dive deeper and look at each cave temple closely. Believe it or not, you will stumble upon several fascinating facets of these temples.

Cave #1

Badami Cave temple #1

Excavated around 550 CE, Cave #1 is dedicated to Lord Shiva in his linga form. The temple has an open porch, a pillared wall, and a sanctuary excavated into its rear wall.

Sculptures at the caves of Badami - Arthanari Shiva

The side walls of the porch have massive sculptures of Harihara on the left and Ardhanari-Siva on the right. These are elevated on pedestals sculpted with dwarf ganas in various moods. The ceiling is adorned with deeply cut stone that depicts the snake-king Nagaraja.

The pillars that divide the porch from the inner hall are fluted with beautiful cushion capitals. Pillars carry low-relief sculptures of deities and are decorated with pearl festoons, foliations, medallions with mythical creations, rows of swans, etc. 

Bull and elephant single headed sculpture

Other interesting themes include a two-armed Saiva-Dvarapala on the left flank of the porch entrance, a Vrishabha-Kunjara (bull and elephant in one), and Siva-Parvati mounting on Nandi. On the right side, following the rock’s front contour, a small cave facing East is excavated.

Mahishasuramardhini

On its rear wall, you will see Durga-Mahishamardini. On the flanking walls, you’ll see Kartikeya on a peacock and a seated Ganesha. Besides this, there’s also a unique sculpture of eighteen-armed Siva-Natasha, the ‘King of Dancers.’ Over the cave’s facade, you will find signatures of craftsmen such as “Aychasvami-Kalkutti”

Cave #2

Badami cave temple 2

Cave #2 was excavated for Lord Vishnu in the 6th century CE. Like cave #1, it comprises an open porch and a pillared hall with a sanctuary cut into its rear wall. Two-armed, calmly disposed, meditating door guardians flank the entrance to the porch. Major sculptures on the porch include panels of Vamana-Trivikrama to the right and Bhu-Varaha to the left, with friezes of Ganas (dwarfs) carved on their pedestals. 

Matsya Chakra

The beams carry continuous friezes of Puranic episodes of Samudra-Manthana and Krishna’s exploits. The ceiling panel features a central Matsya-Chakra (Fish wheel) flanked by Svastika patterns. Brackets supporting the cornice resemble lions, elephants, and humans emerging from the mouths of Makaras and aquatic creatures. Furthermore, you will also find carvings of Brahma, Vishnu, Durga, Kartikeya, Lakulisha, and several other gods. Besides these, decorative Medallions with Vidyadhara couples and foliations on pillar faces will also captivate your attention. 

Bhu Varaha

The sanctuary doorframe carries on its architrave models of northern-style temple towers. The sculpture style is homogeneous and resembles sculptures in the 8th-century Brahmanical caves at the Elephanta and Ellora. Craftsmen ‘Vachya,’ ‘Buru,’ and ‘Duttoja’ have signed their names over the facade of the cave.

Cave #3

Badami temple - Cave 3

Cave #3 was created in 578 CE by Chalukya Mangalesha, during his stepbrother, Kirtivarma’s reign. The cave is dedicated to Lord Maha-Vishnu and is similar to the previous two caves of Badami. The plan comprises an open verandah and a pillared hall with a sanctuary cut into its rear wall. However, cave #3 is designed and constructed in a far more majestic manner. It is the largest and the most ornate cave in the lot.

Eight armed Vishnu

The cave has a stone structural enclosure. A Sanskrit inscription carved beside the great Varaha relief in the Verandah details its dedication, date, and gift of village Lanjisvara (=modern Nandikesvara) by Mangalesha.

Lion headed Narasimha statue carved on the rocks of Badami

The temple’s verandah accommodates major super-human size figural compositions: eighth-armed Vishnu, Vishnu seated on the Ananta and Bhu-Varaha on the left side, and Harihara, standing Narasimha and Vamana-Trivikrama on the right. Side faces of beams carry narrative frizes of the episodes of Mahabharata and Puranas: Samudra-Manthana (Churning of the ocean), Krishna’s exploits, and Parijata-Harana. 

Ceiling of Brahma surrounded by Indra, Varuna, Kubera, and Karthikeya

The verandah ceiling bears medallion reliefs of Vishnu (center), Shiva, Indra, Varuna, Brahma, and Yama. The front row of verandah pillars has bracket figures of loving divine couples, like Siva-Parvati, Kama-Rati, Naga-Nagini, and Nayikas, under trees. The hall’s ceiling bears reliefs of Brahma at the center, surrounded by Indra (east), Varuna (west), Kubera (north), and Kartikeya (south). 

Nelavalke, an artist, has also portrayed the image of Garuda, Vishnu’s vehicle, on the verandah’s eave. The cave is beautifully painted, and a surviving fragment beside the Garuda relief depicts a royal couple witnessing dance. The image of Maha-Vishnu is missing from the sanctuary. Craftsmen Kolimachi, Ingimanchi, Aju-Acharasiddhi, etc., have signed on the sides of the facade.

Cave #4

Badami cave temple 4

Cave #4 is a Jaina cave temple, the smallest among the cave temples at Badami, and dates back to the early 7th century CE. The cave seems unfinished and comprises an open Verandah and an oblong antechamber with a sanctuary piercing its rear wall. The verandah walls accommodate relief ‘sculptures of Bahubali’ (also called Gommata) in penance and Parsvanatha in penance overcoming the obstacles of his demonic enemy Kamatha. 

Sculptures of Bahubali Gomata

The sanctuary doorframe depicts Kama as the door guardian. On the rear wall of the structure, you will find relief sculptures of a Jain Tirthankara (Perhaps Mahavira) delivering a sermon. You will see a halo behind him as he sits on a lion’s throne under a Chaitya tree and a triple umbrella. Besides these, you will also see Vidyadharas offering flowers and divine drums beating by themselves. 

Tirthankara Statues

There are several smaller and larger figures of Tirthankaras in the antechamber. The small lady, seated beside a Tirthankara, carved at the right side of the entrance to the cave, is Jakkave, a pious votary who attended salvation according to the Jaina vow called Sallekhana. Kolimanchi is among the craftsmen who have signed on the boulder of the cave. The cave was originally accessed from the east side and separated from cave #3 by a stone wall.

Cave #5

Cave 5 can be reached through a short hike from behind the Sri Bhootanaatha Gudi. Unlike the mandapa-like structures visible in the first four caves, cave 5 has roofed rocks. En route to the caves, you can also see a few sculptures carved on the rocks (below image).

Rock carved sculptures of Badami

There are numerous Hindu god statues carved in the cave with a mandapa/room beside it. These 7th-century rock carvings include Anantashayana Vishnu, or reclining Vishnu with Lakshmi and Garuda as he folds his hands.

Badami hidden cave #5

The sculpture depicts Vishnu restarting the cosmic cycle by giving birth to all of existence. Above the reclining carved relief are the ten avatars of Vishnu – Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parashurama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, and Kalki. Between the Narasimha and Vamana is shown relief of the Brahma cord connected to Vishnu’s navel. To the left of the relief is depicted the Trinity – Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma, while to the right is a human couple and a mother cow with a calf feeding.

The 5 caves are truly unique and comprise so much detailing. The pictures can’t do justice to these beauties. Go see them for yourself. The true stories behind each sculpture remain a mystery. However, the guide will help you with valuable insights to the best of your abilities.

Other Activities To Do In Badami

Beyond the cave temples in Badami, we found other fascinating activities you shouldn’t miss. Check them out here. You can also visit Pattadakal and Aihole, which are located nearby.

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