Badami, the once upon a time capital of the Chalukyas , is noted several temples, some structural and other rock-cut, of the 6th and 7th Centuries. The foundations of Badami, or Vatapi as it was called, were laid by Pulakeshi I (535 - 566 AD) his son Kirtivarman I (567 - 598 AD), beautified the town with temples and other buildings.
Mangalesha (598 - 610 AD) brother of Kirtiavarman I, completed the construction of the cave temples and endowed the temples with the village on the occasion of the installation of the image of Vishnu. The greatest ruler of the dynasty was Pulakeshi II (610-642 AD) who among others defeated the Pallava King Mahendra Verman I. The Pallava later captured and destroyed Badami to avenge their defeat. Badami was also in the possession of the Vijayanagar Kings, The Adil Shahis, The Savanur Nawabs, The Marathas, Hyder Ali and finally the British who made it part of the Bombay Presidency.
Chalukya Architecture Excellence in Badami Caves
During 450, the Chalukya style originated in Aihole and was perfected in Badami and Pattadakal. The Chalukya artists experimented with different styles, blended the Indo-Aryan Nagara and Dravidian styles, and evolved Chalukya style. Their style includes 2 types of monuments.
1. The rock cut halls (caves)
2. Structural temples
These group of 4 cave temples have been carved out of the hill opposite Badami fort (1 km). The Chalukyan king, Mangalesa (598-610 AD) was responsible for the completion of these cave temples. Of the four, three are Brahmanical, while the fourth is Jain.
This is Shaivite cave. The important carvings in this cave are an 18-armed dancing Shiva (Nataraja), a two-handed Ganesha, Mahishasura Mardini, Ardha Nareeshwara & Shankarnarayana. The ceiling is adorned by a serpent motif and other carved figures.
This cave has Vaishnavite influence with panels of Trivikrama & Bhuvaraha. On the ceilings are carvings of Anantasayana, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and other Ashtadikpalas
Another flight of steps takes one to the third cave which is the largest. This cave has carvings pertaining to both Shaivite & Vaishnavite themes. Panels of Trivikrama, Narasimha, Shankaranarayana, Bhuvaraha, Anantasayana & Harihara are engraved in a vigorous style. An inscription found here records the creation of the shrine by Mangalesha in 578 AD. There are some fine bracket figures on the pillars of this cave
Lying to the east of cave three, the fourth cave is Jain. There is an image of Mahavira adorning the sanctum. Other carvings here are of Padmavathi & other Thirthankaras. Asteep climb up some steps cut in a crevice between Cave II & III leads to the southern part of Badami Fort & to an old gun placed there by Tippu Sultan.
Strategically situated on top of the hill, the fort encloses large granaries, a treasury impressive temples on top of the northern end of the hill.
Malegitti Shivalaya, perhaps the oldest temple of the lot, is dedicated to the benign aspect of Shiva as the garland maker. Placed on the summit of a rocky hill, the temple is built of stone, finely joined without mortar and with Dravidian tower. The lower Shivalaya has a Dravidian tower of which only the sanctum remains now.
There are some more temples like Bhoothanatha temple, Sri Dattatreya temple in Badami town & several of them dotting the banks of a well-built tank locally called the Agasthya Tirtha.
Museum & Art Gallery
A sculpture gallery is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India on the Bhutanatha Temple Road.
View of Bhutanatha temple and Agasthya Tirtha during monsoon