The Rock Cut Monuments of Badami

Badami collage

Quick Facts

Heritage MonumentThe Rock Cut Monuments of Badami
LocationBadami, Karnataka, India
Heritage TypeSacred & Religious Site
Commencement of construction of first monumentMid 6th Century CE
Completion of construction of last monument8th Century CE
Architectural TypeRock Cut Cave Temples
Architectural StyleVesara (Karnata Dravida) – mix of Nagara & Dravida
Royal PatronageMangalesha and other Chalukya kings
Ruling DynastyBadami Chalukya
Religious AffiliationHinduism & Jainism
Religious Dedication toHindu gods and Jain Tirthankars
SpecialtyRock cut temples with massive sculptures and intricate carvings
UNESCO World Heritage SiteNo, (In Tentative List)

Your Guide to Badami:

About The Rock Cut Monuments of BadamiPhoto Gallery – The Rock Cut Monuments of Badami
Attractions at BadamiNear by Attractions
Geographical LocationHow to reach Badami
Tourist InformationMaps & Others
Badami – the regal capital of the ChalukyasTale of the Chalukyas of Deccan

About The Rock Cut Monuments or Cave Temples of Badami

  • The Badami cave temples are a complex of rock cut cave temples located in Badami, a town in the Bagalkot district in northern part of the state of Karnataka, in southern India. The caves are situated at the exit point of a ravine between two steep mountain cliffs, which looks like red sandstone outcrop that surrounds Agastya Teertha lake, a man-made lake ringed by an earthen wall with stone steps.  it is surrounded on the north and south by forts built in later times.
  • Badami was the regal capital of the Chalukya dynasty (sometimes also known as the Badami Chalukya or Early Chalukya) which ruled much of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra from the 6th century (540 CE) to the 8th century (757 CE) and the town was then known as Vatapi, Vatapipura, Vatapinagari and Agastya Teertha.
  • Badami along with Pattadakal (23 km) and Aihole (35 km) forms a cultural triangle and centerpiece of Chalukyan architecture. Badami represent some of the earliest known examples of Hindu temples in the Deccan region. UNESCO has described, that Badami along with the temples in Aihole as having transformed the Mallaprabha River valley into a cradle of temple architecture that influenced the components of later Hindu temples elsewhere in India.
  • Four cave temples in the escarpment of the hill to the south-east of the town were carved into the cliff’s monolithic stone face. The escarpment is above a man-made lake called Agastya Teertha, created by an earthen dam faced with stone steps. To the west end of this cliff, at its lowest point, is the first cave temple. The largest and highest cave is Cave 3, which is further to the east on the northern face of the hill. The fourth cave, Cave 4, is a few steps down further east.
  • Of the primary 4 caves, the first 3 belongs to Hindu gods and goddesses also called Brahmanical temples while the 4th is dedicated to Jain Tirthankaras. Around the lake, there are some additional caves of which one may be a Buddhist cave. Another cave was discovered as late as 2013, about 500 metres (1,600 ft) from the four main caves, with 27 Hindu carvings.
  • The caves are considered to be earliest example of Indian rock-cut architecture and while the architecture style is popularly known as Badami Chalukya architecture, they are also known as ‘Karnata-Dravida’ style which is essentially a mix of Nagara & Dravida styles of architecture.
  • Cave 3 which is the largest and highest cave and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is firmly dated to 578 CE (due to an inscription found which clearly mentions the date) and this makes it the oldest firmly-dated cave temple in India. Based on the refinement achieved in the planning of the caves and the sculptures, it has been deduced by historians that cave 2 and cave 1 – which also belongs to Hinduism – dates from a later period than cave 3, probably few decades later. Cave 4 which is a Jain cave and is likely to have been added a century later.
  • Cave 3, the first of the caves was constructed by Mangalesha, son of Pulakeshin I – who was the first sovereign ruler of the Chalukyan dynasty. Mangalesha took up the construction during the reign of his brother Kirtivarman I, the immediate successor of Pulakeshin I and father to Pulakeshin II, the most famous of the Chalukyan rulers. Mangalesha himself ruled as a regent of Pulakeshin II between 597 CE and 609 CE.
  • The cave temples are carved out of soft sandstone on a hill cliff and the 4 cave temples are linked by a causeway inclined up the face of the cliff with intermediate terraces overlooking the south-east side of the town and the lake.
  • In their general appearance and interior styles, all the 4 caves are similar in that they include 3 features – an entrance with a pillared Mukha Mantapa (verandah), which leads to a columned Mantapa or main hall (also Maha Mantapa), and third is the small, square cell or Garbha Ghriya (sanctum sanctorum) cut deep inside into the rock.
  • As mentioned by noted historian, late Percy Brown, “there is no outstanding architectural effect attempted in the exterior, the façade shows merely the range of pillars forming the verandah, save that a running border of ganas (gnomes or earth-spirits) is carved in the relief of the stylobate of each. In contrast to this unassuming yet serviceable frontage, is the treatment of the interior, on the enrichment of which the rock-carver has concentrated his skill, so that the spectator, passing from the bright sunlight outside into the darkened pillared halls, finds himself bewildered by the wealth of symbolism and mystical imagery which surrounds him on all sides, and appears to  extend indefinitely into the interior gloom.

Return: Guide to Badami

Read here: Badami – the regal capital of the Chalukyas

Read here: Tale of the Chalukyas of Deccan

Attractions at Badami

Cave 1:

Badami Cave Temple 1

First of the caves as we approach the Badami Cave temples and probably the latest of the 3 Hindu cave temples, this is a Shaivite (follower of Lord Shiva) cave with number of exquisite sculptures of gods and goddesses adorned with carved ornaments and bordered with reliefs of floral garlands, animals and birds.


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Cave 2:

Badami Cave 2

Cave 2 is the smallest of the three Brahmanical caves and is dedicated to Hindu god Vishnu. As we go up the stairs (about 64 steps) from cave 1 towards the east, is cave 2 facing north. While the floor plan of cave 2 is very similar to cave 1 with a verandah, pillared main hall and a shrine; the walls, ceilings and pillars are carved and sculpted with various forms of Lord Vishnu.


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Cave 3:

Badami Cave 3

Cave 3 dedicated to Vishnu and his avatars; is the largest, oldest and most intricately carved cave in the complex. It is further up from cave 2 (about 60 steps) and faces north and though the primary religious theme of cave 3 is Vaishnavism but has a sculpture of Harihara (half-Vishnu & half-Shiva) thus making it important for Shaivites also. Cave 3 has well carved, giant figures of Trivikrama-Vamana, Ashthabhujar, Anantasayana, Paravasudeva, Bhuvaraha, Harihara and Narasimha.


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Cave 4:

Badami Cave 4

Cave 4, unlike the first 3 caves which were dedicated to Hindu Gods and Goddesses, this is a Jain cave dedicated to Jain Tirthankaras. To the right (east) of and at a level lower (about 10 feet) than cave 3 is the smallest of the main 4 caves at Badami, is Cave 4. The cave is also dated to have been constructed about a century later towards the end of 7th century CE under the patronage of Hindu kings. Some additions and refinements were made in later centuries till 11th or 12th century CE.


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Other Caves:

Apart from the main 4 caves, there many other cave monuments at Badami around the Agastya Teertha Lake.

On the other side of the lake, near the Bhutanatha temple is a small cave from the Chalukyan period, probably from 7th or 8th century CE but not accurately dated yet. This cave, marked as cave 5 is a natural cave of small dimensions that is approached by crawling due to its narrow opening. Inside there is has a carved statue seated over a sculpted throne with reliefs showing people holding chauris (fans), a Pipal tree, elephants, and lions in an attacking pose. The statue is seen wearing lots of jewellery and has chakra on one side and a conch shell on the other. As the face of the statue is damaged and the iconography of the statue is very confusing, the identity of the statue has not been able to establish by scholars. The statue can be that of Buddha or a Jaina figure or even an ancient King.

Near cave 5 is a small shrine consisting of a 7th-century rock carving of Anantashayana Vishnu, or reclining Vishnu with Lakshmi and Garuda in namaste posture. The sculpture shows Vishnu is restarting the cosmic cycle by giving birth to all of existence. Above the reclining relief of Vishnu 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 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 Bhutanatha Group of Temples:

Bhutanatha Temple & Agastya Lake

The Bhutanatha group of temples comprises of a bunch of sandstone temples from the 7th to 12th century CE dedicated to Hindu god Shiva. The group of temples are located to east and north-east side of the Agastya Teertha lake at Badami, the one to the east of the lake are called the East Bhutanatha group or Bhutanatha main group and the other to the north-east of the lake is called the North Bhutanatha group or Mallikarjuna group of temples.


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Badami Fort:

Badami Others

Badami Fort is strategically located on top of a hill that stands at a distance of about 2 km from the main town of Badami in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka. The origin of the fort dates back to 543 CE. The fort encloses large granaries, a treasury and 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. The lower Shivalaya has a Dravidian tower of which only the sanctum remains now.

A steep climb up some steps cut in a crevice between Cave 2 & 3 leads to the southern part of Badami Fort & to an old gun placed there by Tippu Sultan.

Badami Others
Archaeological Museum:

There is an archaeological museum and granary in the premises of Badami caves.

Please scroll down to checkout other nearby attractions.

Return: Guide to Badami

Geographical Location:

District: Bagalkot
State: Karnataka
Country: India

Location of Karnataka in IndiaBadami in Karnataka map

The Badami cave temples are located in the town of Badami (in Bagalkot district) in the north-central part of Karnataka, in southern India. The temples are about 110 km (70 miles) north-east of Hubli-Dharwad, the second-largest metropolitan area of the state. The Malaprabha River is 4.8 km (3 miles) away and Badami railway station is only 5 km away.

Badami is located in a ravine at the foot of rugged, red sandstone outcrop surrounding a man-made tank called Agastya Teertha Lake, contains several structures from the first millennium CE but is most famous for its rock cut monuments, the Badami Caves.

The current town of Badami though small but is a bustling and quite densely populated town (as with most Indian towns and cities) and is well connected to larger cities of Karnataka and Maharashtra by both road and railways.

Coordinates: 15°55′12″N, 75°40′49″E
Elevation: 586 m (1922.57 ft)
Pin/Post/Zip Code: 587201
Telephone Code: ISD 91; STD 08357
Nearest big town: Bagalkot

How to reach Badami:

  • By Road: Badami can be reached by road from Bangalore, Hyderabad or Pune, each of which are between 400 and 500 km. It can also be reached from other popular tourist spot like Panaji, Hampi or Bijapur.
  • By Air: Nearest domestic airports are at Hubli & Belgaum. Nearest International airports are at Dabolim (Goa), Bangalore & Hyderabad.
  • By Rail: Badami railway station is 5 km from Badami town and is well connected to major cities in South & West India.

Tour Info:

Timing: The Caves are mostly open from 6 am to 6 pm.
Best time to travel: August to February
Weather: Monthly; Current
Languages spoken: Kannada, Hindi & a bit of English

Journey & Photography notes:

One can wear shoes while going up the stairs from one cave to another, however you would need to open your shoes before entering a cave temple. Photography is allowed. Try to take photograph in the natural light and shade of the caves which gives a better effect than using flash. Do visit the Bhootnath temple beside the Agastya Teertha Lake which will give a lot of photography scope, mainly during sunset.

Our suggestion:

For Quick Trip: Make a quick tour from Hampi/Hospet or Bijapur by car for a day tour of Badami, Pattadakal & Aihole and return by night or take the 4 night 5 day North Karnataka bus tour conducted by Karnataka Holidays from Bangalore.

For Comfort Tour: Travel by air to Belgaum/Hubli and then hire a car to Badami or take a direct train to Badami. Stay over at Badami for 2 full days at least. Hire a car to visit Aihole (farthest) the first day and Pattadakal on the second day. Visit the Badami caves on the second day after returning from Pattadakal.

There are no luxury hotels at Badami (as of writing), however ‘Hotel Badami Court’ is comfortable with some decent food available at it’s restaurant. It also has a swimming pool for the guest.

For Budget Tour: Travel by train to Badami and stay over at Badami for 2 full days at least. Hire an auto rickshaw (Tuk Tuk) or take a local bus from Badami to visit Aihole (farthest) the first day and Pattadakal on the second day. Visit the Badami caves on the second day after returning from Pattadakal (if you want you can walk to the caves without hiring a vehicle).

There are quite a few budget hotels available at Badami including the KSTDC run ‘Hotel Mayura Chalukya’.

Return: Guide to Badami

Near by attractions:

Group of monuments, Pattadakal (UNESCO World Heritage Site):

Monuments of PattadakalMonuments of PattadakalJain Rock Cut Temple, Pattadakal

Pattadakal, site where Badami Chalukya kings were coronated, was the capital of the Chalukya dynasty of Karnataka in Southern India between the 6th and 8th century CE and they built many temples here between the 7th and 8th century CE. There are ten temples at Pattadakal, of which nine are Shiva temples and one Jaina basadi (called Jain Narayana temple built in the 9th century CE by the Rashtrakutas), situated along the northern course of the Mallaprabha river. The group of 8th century CE monuments in Pattadakal are the culmination of the earliest experiments in the Vesara style of Hindu temple architecture.

Monuments of Pattadakal

Take a virtual tour of Group of Monuments at Pattadakal here
22 km from Badami
Group of monuments, Aihole:

Durga Temple, AiholeLad Khan Temple, Aihole
Aihole also known as cradle of Indian temple architecture, was established in 450 CE as first capital of Chalukya kings and has about 125 stone temples, some which were constructed as experimental structures by artisans of Chalukyan period. Aihole along with Badami and Pattadakal forms a cultural triangle and center piece of Chalukyan architecture.

Aihole, located around an eponymous small village surrounded by farmlands and sandstone hills in the northern region of the South Indian state of Karnataka, India along the Malaprabha river valley, is about 447 km from the state capital Bangalore.

Mallikarjuna Temple Complex, AiholeRavana Phadi, Aihole

Take a virtual tour of Aihole here.
34.4 km from Badami
Banashankari Temple:

Banashankari Temple (or Banashankari Amma temple) is a Hindu shrine located at Cholachagudda near Badami. The temple deity is also called the Shakambhari, an incarnation of the goddess Parvati.

While the original temple was built by the 7th century Badami Chalukya kings, who worshiped goddess Banashankari as their tutelary deity, the current structure is built in 18th century CE in the Vijayanagara architecture style.

The temple celebrates its annual festival called Banashankari jatre, in the months of January or February. The festival comprises cultural programs, boat festival as well as a Rath yatra (chariot festival), when the temple goddess is paraded around the city in a chariot.
6.2 km from Badami
The Mahakuta group of temples, Mahakuta:

The Mahakuta group of temples is located in Mahakuta, a village near Badami. The temples date to 6th or 7th century CE and were constructed by the early kings of the Chalukya dynasty of Badami. Among the several shrines in the complex, the Mahakuteshvara temple, built in the Dravida style and the Mallikarjuna temple are the largest.

A natural mountain spring flows within the temple complex and feeds fresh water into a large tank called the Vishnu Pushkarni (“Lotus pool of god Vishnu”) and an ablution tank called Papavinasha Tirtha (“Tank of Ablution”). There is a small shrine in the centre of the Vishnu Pushkarni tank and in it there a Shiva linga (universal symbol of god Shiva) called Panchamukha linga (“five faced linga”), one face for each direction and one on top.
Mahakuta Mahakuta
6.4 km from Badami
Group of monuments, Hampi (UNESCO World Heritage Site):

Hampi the erstwhile capital of the great Vijayanagar kingdom and perhaps the last great sovereign Hindu kingdom of India was a fabulously wealthy city considered to be amongst the largest and richest of it’s time in the world, had many a great monument built by its rulers until Vijayanagar lost the decisive battle against Deccan Muslim Confederacy in 1565 CE after which the city was pillaged over a period of 6 months to the state it had to be abandoned and it’s monuments became ruins.

The monuments of Hampi, some of which are living temples others in ruins is one of the most popular UNESCO World Heritage site in India and remains amongst the must visit heritage site in India.
140 km from Badami
Adil Shahi Monuments, Bijapur:

Gol Gumbaz:
Gol Gumbaz or Gol Gumbad, the mausoleum of Muhammad Adil Shah (CE 1626 –56) located in Bijapur, District Bijapur, Karnataka State is an important monument of Indo-Islamic architecture aptly known for its amazing dimensions and unique acoustic features. The construction of this building was completed and the deceased king was interred in this building in 1656 CE and contains the sepulchre containing the tombs of Muhammad Adil Shah (reign 1626 CE to 1656 CE), the seventh Sultan of the Adil Shahi dynasty, his wives and daughters. Soon after his accession to the throne in  1626 CE, the Sultan started constructing this edifice for burying his mortal remains. He was buried in the vast vault beneath the floor along with other family members. The exact position of the real tomb is indicated by the wooden canopy kept on the high platform at the middle of the floor of the hall.

Ibrahim Rouza:
Ibrahim Rouza was a Mausoleum & Mosque built by “Ibrahim Adil Shah II” (1580 CE to 1627 CE), the fifth king of the “Adil Shahi” dynasty, consists of his and his wife, Taj Sultana’s tomb and a mosque within a square compound, both rising face to face from a common raised terrace, with a tank and fountain between them.
123 km from Badami

Return: Guide to Badami

Badami Maps

Birds Eye View of Badami

Badami-birds-eye-view map

Detailed view of Badami

Badami detailed map

Badami circuit map: Badami – Pattadakal – Aihole

Badami-Pattadakal-Aihole circuit map

Local cuisine:

A typical local meal in Badami revolves round three staple items-rice, ragi (finger millet) and jowar (sorghum). The food is mainly cooked in coconut oil and has an affinity towards being sour. The preparations highly depends on rice, coconut and jaggery.

Art, Craft & Festivals:

Major Religious Festival: Apart from the more common Indian festivals of Diwali, Eid-ul-Fitr, Dussera, Ganesh Chaturthi etc. the Banashankari temple which is about 6 km from Badami, holds an annual festival called Banashankari jatre, in the months of January or February. The festival comprises cultural programs, boat festival as well as a Rath Yatra (chariot festival), when the temple goddess is paraded around the city in a chariot.

External Links & References

Tour Packages:

Reference Links:

Reference Books:

Indian Architecture – Buddhist & Hindu by Percy Brown


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