Karnataka Badami Cave Temple
The Badami Cave Temples are a complex or network if caves located in the ancient town of Badami, in the northern part of Karnataka in the district of Bagalkot. The caves are located in the hills overlooking the city and have been cut out of the solid sandstone of the hillside. The temples in these caves honor mostly Hindu and Jain gods and are also considered to be a fitting example of Indian rock-cut art and architecture.
Badami is an ancient city with a colorful history starting from being the capital of the Chalukya Empire during the beginning CE centuries, right into the times of Tipu Sultan and the Colonial Era in India. It is believed that the caves were constructed between the 6th and the 8th centuries CE by the Chalukya kings Kirthivaram and Mangalesha I; when the town was known as Vatapi, based on the Vedic legend of Agastya Sage. The name ‘Badami’ means ‘of or like almond’ and indicates to the soft and almond colored Badami sandstone that makes up the cliffs into which the caves are built in.
How to Reach
Bangalore is the closest international airport at 454 km from Badami, however the domestic airport at Belgaum is closer at 190 km. The Belgaum airport is reached conveniently from Mumbai via domestic flights. From the airports, it one can head to either the railway station or hire a car to get to Badami.
Hubli is the closest major railway station connecting Badami to rest of the Indian railway network. It is around 100 km from Badami and is a major stop for trains from Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata crisscrossing the area. The railway station at Badami is 5km outside the city center where there auto-rickshaws and taxis are easily available.
The city of Badami is well connected to the surrounding big cities like Hubli and Bijapur with state and national highways. Regular buses are operated for Badami from these cities, by the state government (KSRTC) as well as private tourist bus services.
The Badami Caves are made up of four different caves, each a different shrine. The first cave honors Lord Shiva, one of the Hindu trinity and the second and third caves are devoted to Vishnu, also a part of the Hindu trinity. The fourth cave however, is dedicated to Parsvanatha, the 23rd Tirthankar of the Jain religion. There is also a small Buddhist shrine, which is only accessible by crawling through a narrow tunnel, considered by some as the fifth cave.
Significance of The Temple
The architecture and the art in the sandstone of Badami caves is uniquely early South Indian style. The inscriptions in these caves are in an archaic Kannada script and are perhaps the most significant heritage of the region. A special feature of these caves is the unique blend of the Nagara Architecture from North India and the Dravidian Architecture from South.
Weather and Time to Visit
The town of Badami lies in North Karnataka where the summers are harsh and monsoon rains are heavy. The period between September and February or winter, is the best time to visit the Badami Cave Temples. Lately visits during monsoon have also been encouraged due to the natural beauty of the surrounding region during the rains.
The city of Badami has many hotels for tourists and travelers, due to it being a popular tourist destination, known for its temples and other historic sites. Most of these hotels are huddled close to the city center that remains the busiest part of town
Tips For Devotees
The Badami cave temples are mostly popular as sites of ancient art and architecture and have a predominantly archeological air about them.
Rules and Rituals of The Temple
The shrines in the Badami cave temples are no longer used for religious purposes and there are no such rituals or rules of these temples. There are however regulations regarding tourist conduct as it is an important archeological and heritage site.