Precisely was my mood when I boarded the bus after long painful wait of 5 hrs.It was not any different when I woke up later in the morning and looked outside to see the dusty dry countryside which seemed to reflect my mood. My dim mood changed as the small bustling town of Badami made its appearance with huge red boulders in the backdrop. I saw the famous rock-cut temples from afar and could not wait to explore them. Freshened and on my way to the ruins, my rumbling tummy directed me towards khanavali (small tiffin rooms).
With a filled stomach I reached the temple complex. The weather seemed surprisingly cool and I was welcomed by troop of monkeys.The temple complex consists of 4 distinct caves – 1 dedicated to Shiva, 2 to Vishnu and 1 to Jainism.I am not a fan of monuments or any man-made structures but our age-old temples have always been a fascination.Hence this place was no different and I set to explore the caves one by one.
Cave 1: This is the oldest and is dedicated to Shiva. The sculpture of Nataraja (Dancing Shiva) with 18 hands is one of the main attractions in the cave. It is not only beautiful but the permutations represent the various poses of the classical dance.
Cave 2: This cave is dedicated to Vishnu and you see carvings dedicated to him. The carvings are not only detailed in nature but also has an elaborate story behind each. The carving in the picture below is Bhudevi (Mother Earth) being held on a lotus by Vishnu in Varaha Avtar. When she was kidnapped and taken to hell,he intervened to release her. Varaha is the symbol of Chalukyas as well.The ceilings are filled with symbols related to Vishnu and Swathiks, a Hindhu symbol.
Cave 3: This is also dedicated to Lord Vishnu and again one can see carvings of various avatars of Lord Vishnu. The pillars here have beautiful carvings and the main attraction here is the that of Vishnu seated on Adi Sesha (serpent) with his eyes closed in deep meditation.
The Vishnu avatars here are more distinct and in better condition. The new addition was Narasimha Avatar(half man-half lion) of Vishnu who is in a standing position saving Prahlad, his ardent devotee born to the Asura King Hiranyakashyap.
I walked out of the caves still immersed in the fascinating stories I had heard and I found myself looking at the almond kissed town of Badami. You get a fantastic aerial view of the small town, bustling market, fort and the lovely Bhutanath temple from this point. Enjoying the city views I proceeded towards the last cave.
Cave 4: This cave has elaborated carvings of Jain Tirthankaras, all in Digambara Jain style.There is one where Parswanath is in meditation with Adisesha , 5 hooded serpent watching over him.
After 3-4 hours of learning more history than I had ever in my school I was in awe of the ancient and medieval carvings of the craftsmanship of 6th century.
- Badami is best visited during October- March when you can escape the scroching heat.I personally think monsoons will also be good.You can stay in Badami where there are hotels to suit every budget located in and around the Badami Bus Stand.
- The caves get crowded during the day and are apt to be visited early mornings or afternoons (when the sun is at peak).