The cultural heritage of India is an incredible combination of many varied features, and has been influenced by several dynasties like Pallavas, Pandyas, Chalukyas, and Hoysalas, etc.

The most prominent element of Indian culture is its diversity. Badami, a town in the Bagalkot District of Karnataka is a place where you can experience the exquisite rock-cut architecture, unique of India. Badami (also called as ‘Vatapi’) was the capital city of the mighty Chalukya Empire.

badami vatapi cave temples-rock cut architecture

This photo, “Looking at Badami caves and Agatsya lake” @Flickr from
Ankur P made available under a Share-Alike, Attribution license

The cave temples at Badami are spectacularly carved and spellbinding. The whole temple complex is situated near the mouth of a ravine and has been carved of soft sandstone. All the caves face the alluring ‘Agastya’ lake. A panoramic view of the lake can be seen from the temple complex.

badami caves temple karnataka-Panaromic view

This photo, “Badami Cave” @Flickr from
Arun katiyar made available under a Share-Alike, Attribution license

There are four cave temples; three belonging to Hinduism and one belonging to Jainism. Each temple has a similar kind of design. They have a sanctum sanctorum (central place where deity is kept, also called garbhagriha), a mandapa (main hall), a verandah and several pillars. Let us see the significance of each cave temple.

Cave 1:

This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It has beautiful figures of Lord’s Dwarapalakas (guards), a five feet carved idol of Nataraja (Lord Shiva in a dancing pose) with 18 arms. Next to him, there are sculptures of Nandi, Lord Ganesha in a dancing form, Goddess Parvati, Lord Kartikeya and some other dwarf figurines. Also there is a special idol of Ganesha called as “Vatapi Ganapathi”. There is a famous Carnatic song starting with the line “Vatapi Ganapathim”.

Cave 2:

This cave is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.  It has figures of Dwarapalakas (guards) holding lotus in their hands, Sculpture of Varaha (Lord Vishnu in half human – half boar form) with his consort Goddess Bhudevi, Magnificent Sculpture of Vamana (Lord Vishnu in another form). There are some excellent engravings on the ceiling.

Cave 3:

The third cave is the oldest and biggest among all caves. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Splendid giant statues of Paravasudeva, Bhuvaraha, Harihara and Narasimha (Lord Vishnu in various forms) are found here.

Cave 4:

This is dedicated to Mahavira (Founder of Jainism). Several images of him can be found on the inner pillars and walls. There are some other idols of Bahubali (A renowned King and devotee of Lord Vishnu), Yakshas and Yakshis (A divine sect of people).

Another fifth cave temple, dedicated to Buddhism is also present in Badami.

All the cave temples are enthralling. The fact that they have withstood several natural calamities till today is astounding.

badami cave temples in karnataka- Five Caves

This photo, “Badami” @Flickr from wildxplorer made
available under an Attribution license

A visit to this temple complex reminds us of the Chalukya’s dedication towards religion and demonstrates the faith of early civilisations.

Nearby Sterling Holidays Resort: Karwar – Emerald Bay

Distance from Emerald Bay: 274 km, 4 hours 47 mins

Closest City: Belgaum

Other nearby attractions in Bagalkot

  • Pattadakal21.6 km, 27 mins
  • Aihole – 33.5 km, 38 mins
  • Kudala Sangama65.3 km, 1 hour 25 mins
  • Lad Khan Temple – 33.9 km, 39 mins