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Badami Karnataka

Badami, formerly known as Vatapi, is a town and headquarters of a taluk by the same name, in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka. It was the regal capital of the Badami Chalukyas from 540 to 757 AD. It is famous for rock cut and other structural temples. It is located in a ravine at the foot of a rugged, red sandstone outcrop that surrounds Agastya lake. It is also believed that name Badami has come from colour of its stone (badam - Almond).

Badami was the capital of the Early Chalukyas, who ruled much of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh between the 6th and 8th centuries. It was founded in 540 AD by Pulakesi I (535-566 AD), an early ruler of the Chalukyas. His sons Kirtivarman I (567-598 AD) and his brother Mangalesa (598-610 AD) constructed the cave temples. The greatest among them was Pulakesi II (610-642 AD) who defeated many kings but failed to capture Pallava's capital Kanchipuram.

Agasthya-Tirtha Lake : The Lake located beneath the cave temples is considered holy due to the healing powers of its water. The eastern banks of the Agasthya-Tirtha Lake are dotted with a cluster of Bhoothanatha temples. This tank, situated adjacent to the temple, is highly sacred. It is the birth place of Ganga (Ganges), Yamuna and other sacred rivers.

The Badami temples reflect the emergence of the Chalukyan style of temple architecture - reputed for its classical rock-cut creations. Their style is an intricate blend of the North Indian Nagara style and the South Indian Dravidian style. Situated in a ravine at the foot of a red sandstone outcrop, the Badami caves extend to a large height with layers of rocks. The area surrounds the Agastya Lake, with distinct greenish-tinged water, adding to the contrast of the red sandstone.

Badami caves are the world's first monolithic shrines of the Vedic tradition, against the long tradition of such Jaina or Buddhist creations. The noteworthy four caves with four temples of rare sculptural excellence offer a thrilling trek to reach them. Of the four temples, three are dedicated to Hindu gods, and the fourth is a Jain temple. This goes to represent the secular nature of the Chalukyan rulers with tolerance and religious beliefs inclined towards Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism

The cave temples date back to 600 and 700 CE. It also bears exquisite carvings, sculptures and beautiful murals.Important part of historical heritage at Badami cave temples are inscriptions in old Kannada script.

Cave 1 : Right inside the first cave is the figure of Shiva of about five feet height and in the tandava dancing pose with 18 arms. Besides him are the Nandi, dancing Ganapati, etc. There is a neatly carved perfect figure of Mahishasuramardini and several other rock cut dwarf images of kubja ganas, Nagaraja or snake king, Vidhyadhara couple, etc.

Cave 2 : In the second cave on its front are the guards or dvarapalakas holding lotus in their hands. East and West walls of the cave have large images of Bhuvaraha and Trivikrama. On the ceiling Ananthashayana, Bramha, Vishnu, Shiva and Asthadikpalakas are engraved.

Cave 3 : The third cave is dedicated to Vishnu. It is the best and the biggest, and it has splendid giant figures of Vishnu, Paravasudeva, Bhuvaraha, Harihara and Narasimha. All these statues are engraved in a vigorous style. There are some paintings on the ceiling and the style indicates maturity but has lost its original dazzling colour.

Cave 4 : The fourth cave is Jaina which lies a little east of cave III. The sanctum is adorned by the image of Mahavira. The pedestal contains an old Kannada inscription of the 12th century A.D. which registers the death of one Jakkave. Scores of Jaina Thirthankara images have been engraved in the inner pillars and walls. In addition to it, there are some idols of Bahubali, Yakshas and Yakshis

Banashankari temple is a Hindu shrine located at Cholachagudd near Badami. The temple deity is also called the Shakambhari an incarnation of the goddess Parvati. The original temple was built in the 7th century by Kalyani Chalukya kings, who worshipped goddess Banashankari as their tutelary deity. The current 18th century structure was built by a Maratha chieftain. 

The temple was built initially in the Dravidian architectural style. The rebuilt structure is in the Vijayanagara architectural style. The temple is enclosed by a high wall on all sides. The main structure has a mukha mantapa (portico), ardha mantapa (entrance porch / chamber in front of the sanctum) and a sanctum topped by a Vimana (tower). The main sanctum of the temple has the image of goddess Banashankari deified in it. The black stone sculpture depicts the goddess seated on a lioness trampling a demon under her foot. The goddess has eight arms . There is a 360 ft (109.7 m) square water tank in the forefront of the temple at the entrance, which is locally called as Haridra Tirtha. Lamp towers (Deepa stambhas) are seen in the foreground of the temple on the west bank of the pond and also at the entrance

Malegitti Shivalaya, situated at the top of a rocky hill, is one of the oldest stone temples, dating back to 7th century. The temple is devoted to the garland maker, a gentle aspect of Lord Shiva. Two inscriptions have been found here; one says that Aryaminchi Upadhyaya was the sculptor who created Malegitti Shivalaya, while the other, assigned to 1543, talks of the establishment of a stronghold during the reign of the Vijayanagaras. A large granary, double fortification walls, various architectural marvels and an underground chamber are also present here.

The Bhutanatha group of temples is a cluster of sandstone shrines dedicated to the deity Bhutanatha, in Badami town of Karnataka state. There are two major temples here. Temple No.1, on the east side of the lake, called the Bhutanatha temple has a superstructure that resembles early South Indian style with its open mantapa (hall or Veranda) extending into the lake, while the smaller Temple No.2 on the north-east side of the lake has a stepped superstructure, commonly found in Kalyani Chalukya constructions. The inner shrine and mantapa (hall) of Temple No.1 were constructed in the late 7th century during the reign of the Badami Chalukyas while the outer mantapa, facing the Badami tank, was completed during the rule of the Kalyani Chalukyas of the 11th century. On either side of the foot of the shrine doorway is an image, that of goddess Ganga on her vehicle, the makara, on the right, and on the left, that of goddesses Yamuna riding the tortoise. To the north of the hall is a small shrine which was originally consecrated for Vishnu. Following later Jain modifications, the temple was eventually taken over by the followers of Lingayatism who built an outer hall and installed a Nandi (vehicle of Shiva), and a Shiva linga inside the sanctum.  The Mallikarjuna group exhibits topological features popularised by the Kalyani Chalukya architects, including plain walls, angled eaves over the open mantapa (hall) and pyramid shaped superstructures made of closely spaced horizontal tiers.

Badami fort lies east of the Bhuthnath temple. The entrance to this temple is right through the Badami museum. It is a steep climb with many view points and dotted with little shrines. The path is laid with neatly cut stone, the same that adores all the architecture around. Badami Fort, a popular attraction of this area, is situated on the top of a hill directly in front of the Badami Caves. It was once the home of the kings of the Chalukyan Empire. Accessible only on foot, this fort has two Shivalaya complexes that were constructed in 5th century by King Pulakesan II, who worshipped Lord Vishnu. The upper Shivalaya is dedicated to Lord Shiva, whereas the lower one is dedicated to Lord Ganesha. Visitors will see carved mythological tales on the exterior walls of upper Shivalaya, such as the elephant and the lion. A 16th century cannon belonging to Tipu Sultan is located to the north of lower Shivalayas. The fort also has large granaries, a private hall, fortified walls and a secret underground chamber.