Badami in Northern Karnataka, was the capital of the Chalukyan empire. During the 5th to the 8th century, skilled artisans cut caves in the mountainside and decorated the insides with stunning craftsmanship.
The four caves are dated to 578 CE. The first cave is dedicated to Shiva and you saw some impressive high relief figures of Nataraja and Ardhanareshwara in my earlier post. I hope you did not miss the cute Ganapati providing mridangam support for Shiva’s dance! In a prominent niche in this cave, is also housed a beautiful sculpture of Durga Devi in the form of Mahisasuramardini, which I previously used in a Dussehra greeting.
Cave two is dedicated to Vishnu. Near the entrance is an impressive carving of Varaha Murthy representing the avataar of Vishnu. He is accompanied by the king Naga (lower right). He is holding goddess Prithvi, representing the earth, which he rescued from the deluge.
Opposite is the figure of Trivikrama, celebrating another of Vishnu’s avataar. You can see the dwarf form Vamana with an umbrella, and Bali offering his head for Trivikrama’s third step!
Note, both figures are accompanied by a frieze of dwarfs amusing themselves – reminding us that temples provided sacred, yet jovial social forums. The artisans’ sense of humor extended to providing puzzles carved on pillars for the devotees. In the first image on one of the pillars, can you make out three unique boys in the jumble of three heads and four arms? The second and third carvings provide the answer!
Even the ceilings had elaborate carvings, like this ‘wheel of dharma’ decorated with fish for the spokes!
Writeup and pics from the other Cave Temples of Badami:
- Cave Temples of Badami – 1
- Durga as Mahisasuramardhini, also from Cave 1
- Cave Temples of Badami – 3
- Cave Temples of Badami – 4