Badami Caves- A breathtaking Chalukyan Marvel

If you ever have a chance to visit the interior Karnataka, then please do never retreat without paying a visit to the wonderful Chalukyan architecture-Badami caves. I, along with my family, had a golden opportunity to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of these carefully architectured caves. About 1500 years ago, the Chalukyans chose Badami (initially called Vatapi), a small town in Bagalkot district of Karnataka, to establish their kingdom. Embedded between mountains and lakes, one can find their stupendous imagination at work which can make an everlasting impression on you.    
On one side of a water reservoir called the Agastya tirtha, which shone like a green jewel to us in the bright sunshine, there were towering cliffs with stone steps which led to the four exquisite rock cut cave temples. One may be amazed to note the religious tolerance of the Chalukyas as one cave structure was dedicated to Shiva, two to Vishnu and the another one to Mahavira. 
Cave Structure 1: About 40 steps leading to this structure of Shiva, it is the oldest of all the caves(built at around 578 AD). Carved out of red sandstones, there were innumerable dancing poses of the deity to whom the cave the structure is dedicated. One may be astounded on watching the sculptures and paintings all around the cave, even on the ceiling. The entrance of the cave has a verandah which is of about 21m in length and 20m in width. It has four columns with various sculptures embedded on it. The sanctum is empty and so there is no worship.
Cave Structure 2: Access to this cave, dedicated to Vishnu, is through 64 rock cut steps from the first cave. The dimensions and the structure of this cave are similar to cave 1 with the walls embedded with the sculptures and paintings of various forms of the presiding deity. Built at around 6th century AD, this cave has ceiling embedded with the most exquisite and intricately designed wheel with the spokes resembling that of fish and some inscriptions which, I am sure, would take you to the Chalukyan era. As in the case of the first cave, since the sanctum is empty, there is no worship.
Cave Structure 3: About 60 steps away from the first cave, this is the biggest cave amongst all of them, with Vishnu as the presiding deity. The records here say that this enormous structure was the Chalukyan King Mangalesha’s creation during 578AD. He was considered the father of Chalukyan architecture. With a 21m long verandah, going about 15m deep in to the hill, this cave structure is about 4.6m high. Supported by 6 massive pillars, beautifully designed, this structure provides valuable information about the clothing and culture of the people of the Chalukyan era. Rich with murals, paintings and sculptures, one would be compelled to visit this destination again and again to give a deeper study.
Cave Structure 4: Located above the rest of the caves is this cave structure dedicated to Jainism. Probably the latest and the smallest of all the cave structures, it is no short of the other caves in its architectural marvel. One can find large sculptures of Mahavira and Gomatesvara here along with other Jain saints. As I had already mentioned, the Chalukyas’ religious tolerance is truly commendable.
The Boothnath temple: At the other end of the Agastya Tirtha Tank lies the famous Boothnath temple. Built at around 5th century AD, the hall of this temple complex extends into the water reservoir. The view of the Badami caves from down the Boothnath temple and vice versa, is really picturesque and beyond our imagination.
Reaching Badami: By air: The nearest airport from Badami is 145Kms away at Belgaum. From there one can hire a taxi to Badami. By train: Access to Badami via train is easier as it has its own railway station. One can catch the Guntakal express from Hampi which takes 4 hours to reach the destination. By road: By taking the NH 4(410 km) from Bangalore to Hubli and then going via NH 218(106 km), one can reach these exquisite cave temples. Comfortable accommodation is available within about 2 kms.

                               The magical aura this place creates will remain etched in our memories for a long time to come. If you are an adventure seeker or architecture or a nature lover then this beautiful historical place is going to be your perfect destination.