Located on a hilly slope atop a flight of about 200 steps, the Badami cave temple complex comprises four ancient rock-cut caves. Of the four temples, three are Brahmanical temples while the fourth one is a Jain cave.
The earliest of the Badami caves, the first cave was probably carved
way back in 578 AD. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this cave houses a
magnificent sculpture of the 18-armed Lord Nataraja (Dancing Shiva),
resplendent in 81 different Mudras or hand movements. One also comes
across sculptures of the deities of Harihara (half-Vishnu, half-Siva),
their consorts Lakshmi and Parvati and, and Ardhanarishwar. The square
shaped sanctum hollowed in the control back wall enshrines the
The presiding deity of the second cave temple of Badami is Lord Vishnu.
The Lord is depicted in his various incarnations, prominent among which
are the incarnations of Varaha (boar) and Vamana (dwarf). The ceiling is
endowed with carvings of Vishnu in eternal sleep, Shiva, Brahma and the
8 Dikpals, the presiding deities of the 8 directions.
The grandest among the Badami caves, the third cave is dedicated to
Lord Vishnu. This 70 feet wide cave boasts of a profusion of sculptures
of Vishnu in different avatars, Narasimha (Vishnu as Man-Lion), Varaha,
Harihara (Shiva Vishnu) and as Trivikrama. The elegantly decorated cave
embodies the sculptural dexterity of ancient craftsmen.
The solitary Jain cave among the lot, the construction of this cave
achieved completion 100 years after that of the other three caves. The
cave enshrines a number of statues of the Jain Tirthankaras in different
postures. While Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara, is depicted in a sitting
posture, Tirthankara Parshwanatha is carved with a serpent at his feet.