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Cave Temple 3, Badami, Karnataka | by Mukul Banerjee (www.mukulbanerjee.com)
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Cave Temple 3, Badami, Karnataka

Badami (Kannada: ಬದಾಮಿ), formerly known as Vatapi, is a taluk in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka, India. It was the regal capital of the Badami Chalukyas from 540 to 757 AD. It is famous for rock cut and other structural temples. It is located in a ravine at the foot of a rugged, red sandstone outcrop that surrounds Agastya lake.

 

The name Vatapi has origin in the Vatapi legend of Ramayana relating to Sage Agastya. There were two demon siblings Vatapi and Ilvala. They used to kill all mendicants by tricking them in a peculiar way. The elder Ilvala would turn Vatapi into a ram and would offer its meat to the guest. As soon as the person ate the meat, Ilvala would call out the name of Vatapi. As he had a boon that whomsoever Ilvala calls would return from even the netherland,[citation needed] Vatapi would emerge ripping through the body of the person, thus killing him. Their trick worked until Sage Agastya countered them by digesting Vatapi before Ilvala could call for him, thus ending the life of Vatapi at the hands of Ilvala. Two of the hills in Badami represent the demons Vatapi and Ilvala.

 

Badami was the capital of the Early Chalukyas, who ruled much of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh between the 6th and 8th centuries. It was founded in 540 AD by Pulakesi I(535-566 AD),[citation needed] an early ruler of the Chalukyas. His sons Kirthivarman (567-598 AD) and his brother Mangalesha I (598-610 AD) constructed the cave temples. The greatest among them was Pulakesi II (610-642 AD) who defeated many kings but failed to capture Pallava's capital Kanchipuram.

 

The rock-cut Badami Cave Temples were sculpted mostly between the 6th and 8th centuries. The four cave temples represent the secular nature of the rulers then, with tolerance and a religious following that inclines towards Hinduism,[citation needed] Buddhism and Jainism. cave 1 is devoted to Shiva, and Caves 2 and 3 are dedicated to Vishnu,[citation needed] whereas cave 4 displays reliefs of Jain Tirthankaras. Deep caverns with carved images of the various incarnations of Hindu gods are strewn across the area, under boulders and in the red sandstone. From an architectural and archaeological perspective, they provide critical evidence of the early styles and stages of the southern Indian architecture.

 

The Pallavas under the king Narasimhavarman I (also called Mamalla Pallava) seized it in 642 AD. Vikramaditya I of Chalukyas drove back Pallavas in 654 AD. and led a successful attack on Kanchipuram, the capital of Pallavas [This statement needs reference]. The Rashtrakutas absorbed karnataka including Badami around 757 AD and the town lost its importance. The later Chalukyas of Kalyani defeated them and were able to keep region from 973 AD to 1189 AD, when it was occupied by the Hoysalas.

 

Then it passed on to Vijayanagara empire, The Adil Shahis, The Savanur Nawabs, The Marathas,[citation needed] Hyder Ali. The Britishers made it part of the Bombay Presidency.

 

Badami has eighteen inscriptions, among them some inscriptions are important. The first Sanskrit inscription in old Kannada script, on a hillock dates back to 543 CE, from the period of Pulakesi I (Vallabheswara), the second is the 578 CE cave inscription of Mangalesa in Kannada language and script and the third is the Kappe Arabhatta records, the earliest available Kannada poetry in tripadi (three line) metre. one inscription near the Bhutanatha temple, on a rock, testifies to Mamalla Pallava's victory over the Chalukyas in the year 642 CE. It also has inscriptions dating back to the 12th century in Jain rock-cut temple dedicated to the Tirtankara Adinatha.

 

In the Karnatic music and Hamsadwani raga the Vatapi Ganapatim Bhaje by the composer Mutthuswamy Deekshitar.[4] The idol of Vatapi Ganapati is now in Tiruchenkaatankudi near Thanjavur of Tamilnadu.

In 7th century, Vatapi Ganapati idol was brought from Badami (Vatapi - Chalukya capital) by Sirutondar(General of Pallavas) who defeated Chalukyas.

 

The Badami cave temples are a complex of temples located at Badami, a town in the Bagalkot District in the north part of Karnataka, India. They are considered an example of Indian rock-cut architecture, especially Badami Chalukya Architecture. Badami, the capital of the Early Chalukyas, who ruled much of Karnataka in the 6th to 8th centuries, lies at the mouth of a ravine with rocky hills on either side and a town tank in which water from the ravine flows. The town is known for its ancient cave temples carved out of the sandstone hills above.

 

The Badami cave temples are composed of four caves, all carved out of the soft Badami sandstone on a hill cliff in the late 6th to 7th centuries. The planning of four caves is simple. The entrance is a verandah (mukha mandapa) with stone columns and brackets, a distinctive feature of these caves, leading to a columned mandapa – main hall (also maha mandapa) and then to the small square shrine (sanctum sanctorum, garbhaghrha) cut deep into the cave.[3] The temple caves represent different religious sects. Among them, two (cave 2 and 3) are dedicated to god Vishnu, one to god Shiva (cave 1) and the fourth (cave 4) is a Jain temple. The first three are devoted to the Vedic faith and the fourth cave is the only Jain temple at Badami.

 

The cave temples date back to 600 and 700 CE. Their architecture is a blend of North Indian Nagara Style and South Indian Dravidian style. As described above each cave has a sanctum sanctorum, a mandapa, a verandah and pillars. The cave temples also bear exquisite carvings, sculptures and beautiful murals.

Important part of historical heritage at Badami cave temples are inscriptions in old Kannada script.

There is also the fifth cave temple in Badami – Buddhist temple in natural cave which can be entered only on all fours.

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Taken on March 10, 2010