Chalukyan Caves

Badami Caves

Useful Information

Location: About 75 km north of Gadag, Northern Karnataka.
Open: Adults US$ 5.
Fee: daily 8-18
Classification: SubterraneaCave Church
Guided tours:  
Address: Chalukyan Caves, Tel: +91-, Fax: +91-,
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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6th century caves excavated.


Overlooking the Bhutenatha lake or Agarthya lake, where the mossy green water is considered to cure illness, are the Chaluky Caves. There are five caves, four are artificial and one natural, and they are all connected by flights of steps. The Chalukyans were tolerant of all sects and elements of Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Jainism and Buddhism can be found in the caves.

Cave No 1: One can easily climb to Cave No 1 which is thought to be pre-578 AD and was probably the first to be carved. Climbing the 40 steps one reaches the colonnaded veranda, a hall with numerous pillars and a square shaped sanctum hollowed out in the rear wall. Columns are masterfully crafted and on the ceiling one can see the paintings of amorous couples including Shiva and his consort Parvati, together with a coiled serpent God. The veranda also has a frieze of ganas or comic looking attendants. Shiva as Natraja with 18 arms is seen in 81 dancing poses.

Cave No 2: Going up the sandstone hill one comes across Cave No 2 which is dedicated to Vishnu who is depicted as a dwarf or Trivikrama of awesome dimensions with one foot mastering the Earth and the other the sky. Another form of Vishnu portrayed here is as Varaha or a boar. A frieze endearingly depicts Vishnu as Lord Krishna, Vishnu riding the Garnda, and a lotus surrounded by sixteen fishes.

Cave No 3: This is further on up the hill and is thought to date from 578 AD. The facade of the cave is nearly 21 m wide, and on the plinth one can see the carvings of ganas. The sheer artistry and sculptural genius makes it this cave the highlight of Deccani art. It gives a virtual insight into the art and culture of the 6th century showing costumes, jewellery, hairstyle etc. The other attractions in this cave are the high relief of Vishnu with a serpent, Vishnu as Narasimha (Vishnu as Man-Lion) Varaha, Harihara (Shiva Vishnu) and Vishnu as Trivikrama.

Cave No 4 was first started in the 6th century and completed nearly 100 years later than the earlier three caves. This is the lone Jain cave. Here one can see the carvings of the Tirthankara Parshavnatha with a serpent at his feet; Mahavira in a sitting posture also can be seen in the shrine. It also has a statue of Parshuanatha with two dvarapals or doorkeepers. At the entrance, steps from these cave lead to the south fort.

Text by Tony Oldham (2003). With kind permission.