Stone compositions in Badami ๐Ÿ‘‘

Cave 3 in Badami is the largest and the most elaborate among the four cave temples. An inscription on the wall of the cave details that the cave was created under the auspicious of the king’s (Kirttivarman I) brother Mangalesha Chalukya in 578 CE. The cave is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the sculptures and carvings display the Vishnu avatars.

Vishnu as Vaikuntha seated on the coils of serpent Anantha-Sesha in Cave 3 Badami
Front verandah of Cave 3 with the ornate pillars, leading to the sculpture of Vishnu as Vaikuntha
Varaha, the third avatar of Vishnu carrying Bhudevi in Cave 3 Badami
Pairs of dwarfs or ganas adorn the base of the temple and many of the sculptures
Harihara – with part Shiva and part Vishnu in Cave 3 Badami

Both the Varaha avatar of Vishnu and Harihara are seen in Cave 2 also ๐Ÿ‘‰ Vishnu avatars in Badami ๐Ÿ›• In this Harihara sculpture, the consorts of Shiva and Vishnu are missing, but Shiva is identified with matted hair and axe in hand; while Vishnu wears half crown and holds a conch in hand.

Narasimha, the fourth avatar of Vishnu in Cave 3 Badami
Trivikrama and the dwarf Vamana (figure damaged), the fifth avatar of Vishnu in Cave 3 Badami

Our guide Basavaraj pointed out to the various couple figures carved on top of the pillars; they have been given modern twists by the guides.

Gaze up to the ceiling and there are more carving there !! There is a plethora of Gods and Goddesses depicting various scenes from Hindu mythology, it’s difficult to understand and identify them all unless you are already familiar with the narratives. But you can’t help but marvel at the centuries old handcrafted creations. I am not familiar with all the stories of Hindu mythology, so I was delighted to get a crash course on as many tales as I could.

As George Michell in his book on Badami says “The charm of these compositions is unsurpassed in the whole of Early Chalukya art.” See them for yourself !!

Till next post, take care !


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