Cave Temple

The capital of the early Chalukyas, Badami is, rather picturesquely located at the mouth of a ravine, between two rocky hills. Badami is famous for its four cave temples - all hewn out of sandstone on the precipice of a hill. In its ancient temples and forts, Badami preserves an important chapter in the history of architecture, in Karnataka.

Situated in North Karnataka, Badami was the capital of the Chalukya empire, founded by Pulakesin I in the 6th century A.D. The Chalukyas are to be credited with pioneering a new architectural style, examples of which can be seen in Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal and other neighbouring areas. They built a number of temples, and other monuments that marked the beginning of the Hindu style of architecture. This new style combined the best of two distinct styles - the North Indian, Indo-Aryan Nagara style and the South Indian Dravidian style. Known as the Chalukyan style, this style is manifested in many cave temples, dedicated to Brahmanical deities, as well as the many Buddhist and Jain monasteries in the region.

The cave temples of Badami which date back to 600 and 700 A.D. are carved out of sandstone hills. Each has a sanctum, a hall, an open verandah and pillars. What makes these cave temples remarkable, are the large number of exquisite carvings and sculptures. In the skilful hands of the Chalukyan artisans, the sandstone seems to have become as pliant as putty. There are many beautiful murals as well. The free standing stone temples in Badami, provide enlightening information about the development of the Chalukyan style of architecture, as many seem to have been experimental constructions. The early temples appear to be like large court halls to which shrines were attached. The Ladkhan temple at Aihole belongs to this early phase. The next phase of development is visible in the Gowdaragudi temple which is a more complex structure. 

One of the many masterpieces to be found in these caves is the famous, 18-armed Nataraja (Shiva) who if observed closely, strikes 81 poses. Cave 4, the last cave, is the only Jain Temple in Badami. The 24th Tirthankara- Mahavira, is seated in a uniquely comfortable pose here, against a cushion in the inner sanctum. On the other bank of the ancient Bhutnatha lake, astride whose shores the caves stand, is the shrine of Nagamma, the local serpent goddess, within a massive tamarind tree. Nearby, are two Shiva temples, which deify Him as Bhutanatha, God of Souls. Within the inner sanctum, on the edge of the water, He sits in a rare pose, leaning back, in all his awesome majesty.

In route to Pattadakal, one comes across Banashankari, the goddess the village is named after.The goddess is black, riding a ferocious gold lion, eight-armed, sheer magnetism emanating from Her. Outside the shrine is the tank the goddess is said to have been transformed into. Further ahead, in Mahakuta, at the famous Mahakuteswara Temple, is Kashi Tirtha, a natural spring, the cold and clear waters of which are said to cleanse one's sins.

It is said that the better known caves of Elephanta and Ellora were modelled on the ones in Badami. The Kailashnatha temple at Ellora, has been hewn out of an entire hillock, cut out from the parent hill and combines the best of cave and free-standing temples. 

Some of the places of worship
Ajanta & Ellora, Maharashtra
Aurangabad, Maharashtra
Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh 
Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh
Orchha, Madhya Pradesh
Shivpuri, Madhya Pradesh
Belur, Karnataka
Badami, Karnataka
Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh 
Elephanta Caves, Maharashtra
Bhojpur, Madhya Pradesh 
Mandu, Madhya Pradesh 
Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh 
Halebid, Karnataka 
Hampi, Karnataka 
Buddhist Relics, Orissa