A Visit to the Past
Badami, a proverbial secret country, is tucked away in a gorge between two hills. Badami today is what remains of a once glorious past, that of the Chalukyan Empire. The town thus exhibits some of the finest examples of Dravidian architecture in its temples, in the rock-cut caves. Badami, thus, would be the paradise of the historian and the art lover. The cave temples are no less than wonders in stone; ordinary and unassuming from outside, the dark interiors are replete with long rows of carved figures, imposing pillars and much more. Step into one of them and you will find yourself transported to another age, and another world altogether.
The name Badami originated from the old name of the city - Vatapi. Badami was the capital of the Chalukyan Empire between the 4th and 8th centuries. Once upon a time, Badami was the hub of all business and activity, where gold and precious stones were sold in busy bazaars. Following the Chalukyas, many others like the Rashtrakutas, the Pallavas and the Marathas invaded and occupied Badami, as evidenced by the architecture and sculptures. Many of the temples thus exhibit touches of the South Indian temple architecture and the North Indian Nagara styles. With the invasion of the Muslim armies, the area fell to ruins.
Badami is famous for its inscriptions some of which date back to 543 CE. Some of these are Sanskrit in Kannada script, while some are Kannada poetry speaking about Mamalla Pallava’s victory over the Chalukyas. The temples are distributed in four sets of caves, all of sandstone, in four different levels. The oldest is the most magnificent, with exquisite carvings of the Nataraja in a variety of Thandava postures. Lord Shiva is also depicted here in the Ardhanareeshwara (half man - half woman) position. You can also find the figure of Harihara - the future Avatar of Shiva.
The second and third caves are dedicated to Vishnu. You can find Vishnu in his Varaaha, Trivikrama and Krishna Avataars. The fourth cave has sculptures exclusively of the Jain Thirthankara- Adinath. There is a reservoir overlooking the caves where there are other temples again dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. There is an archeological museum as well here where you can find several rare and precious sculptures.
Belgaum (150 km) is the nearest airport
There are bus services to Bijapur, Bangalore, Hubli, Gadag and Ilkal
Badami has a railway station of its own, though small