The Badami cave temples at Badami, a town in the Bagalkot District in the north part of Karnataka, are considered an excellent 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 both sides and a large 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 called maha mandapa) and then to the small square shrine (sanctum sanctorum, garbhagriha) cut deep into the cave. 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.
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.
These caves will give you a glimpse of how architecturally advanced India was in the past. These caves are an absolute must see if you are on a Karnataka tour.