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Badami Cave Temples (Karnataka) - History, Architecture

Badami Cave Temples (Karnataka) – History, Architecture

The Badami Cave Temples is a historically significant site located in Badami, in the district of Bagalkot, Karnataka. It showcases a Hindu and Jain cave temple complex that is carved out of sandstone hills. They reflect the ancient rock-cut architecture of India and its rich cultural and religious heritage.

The site was once the capital of the Chalukya Dynasty, known as Vataapinagara.


It is situated on the west bank of a man-made lake. The site displays stunning architectural features and carvings on the structures and pillars. The four rock-cut caves are nestled between two rugged hills, adding to their appeal.

This site is a fascinating destination for history lovers and anyone who appreciates the beauty of such unique art and architecture.

In this article, you will get to know the following points about Badami Cave Temples,

Let’s see each of these points in detail.

Badami Cave Temples timings

The timings of all the cave temples in Badami are,

Everyday09:00 AM – 05:30 PM

Badami Cave Temples entry fee

The entry fee for Badami cave temples is,

Indian CitizensRs. 25 per person
Foreign NationalsRs. 600 per person


Badami Cave Temples location

AddressBadami, Karnataka
Nearest AirportBelgaum Airport
Nearest Railway StationBadami Railway Station
Nearest Bus StandBadami Bus Stand
Distance from Hampi140 km

History of Badami Cave Temples

Badami Cave Temples

The Badami Cave Temples were built by the Chalukya Dynasty between the 6th and 7th centuries AD.

The foundation of the first cave temple was laid by Pulakeshin I and was later completed by his son Kirtivarman I, who also built the second one. After Kritivarman I, his uncle Manhalesha, and later Pulkeshin II (Kritivarman I’s son) added more cave temples to the complex.

If we look deeper into history, we will find that many more rulers took possession of Badami and ruled for years over it. Inscriptions were found inside the caves written in the old Kannada language which had disclosed information about them.


The Badami Cave Temples is considered one of the earliest known Hindu Temples in the entire Deccan region. It was discovered in the year 1924 by Stella Kramrisch. A lot more history is there entwined with the complex and is very intriguing to indulge in.

The architecture of Badami Cave Temples

Badami Cave Temples architecture

The Badami Caves showcase “Chalukyan architecture” or “Karnata Dravida architecture.” This type of architecture evolved in the Bagalkot district between the 5th and 8th centuries. It is also known as the Chalukya style or Vesara style.

The entire complex was carved out of sandstones that were abundant on the hills. Each cave has an entrance, a hall, a small shrine called Garbha Griha, and a veranda or a mukha mandapa. The Mukha mandapas are supported by a series of pillars and brackets.

In total, there are five caves at this complex, of which four are manmade and one is natural. Three of the man-made caves are Brahmanical and one is Jain. To reach the caves, you have to climb 2000 steps.

Let’s explore each of these caves in detail:

Cave 1:

This cave is about 18 meters high and can only be accessed through a staircase. Each step is carved with a figure of one of Lord Shiva’s attendants in a different pose. There is also a veranda along with four columns, each displaying Lord Shiva’s various dance positions. You will also see an image of Lord Shiva with eighteen arms depicting different gestures and having different objects. Few have coiled snakes, few have an axe, while others have drums and tridents. Next to him are the images of Lord Ganesha and Nandi the bull.


The cave walls depict Goddess Durga slaying the demon Mahishasura, as well as Lord Kartikaya, Ganesha, Goddess Parvati, and Lakshmi. The walls also feature the images of Ardhanarishwara and Harihara, who are the composite forms of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, and Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, respectively. These exquisite sculptures are surrounded by animals and birds. This cave is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Cave 2:

This cave is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and displays Vaishnavite influences. To reach the cave, you have to climb 64 steps and the first thing you see is the veranda consisting of four pillars.

Inside the cave, you can see a statue of Lord Vishnu as Trivikrama, as well as another one as Varaha saving Mother Earth. At the entrance, there is a statue of two armed guards holding flowers in their hands.

The cave also features various depictions of Lord Krishna’s avatars and inscriptions from the Puranas. The ceiling is decorated with a wheel with sixteen fish spokes, flying chariots, and swastikas. The hall in the cave has eight square pillars arranged in two rows.

The beautiful Deccan style of architecture is reflected throughout the cave.

Cave 3:

It is the largest among all the caves and is also devoted to Lord Vishnu. The cave can be reached by traversing 60 steps. Inside there are numerous images that comprise Anantasayana, Bhuvahara, Trivikrama, Paravasudeva, Narsimha, and Harihara.

The hall is separated from the Veranda by four pillars and six other pillars are there that provide support to the cave. There are pilasters, columns, and brackets, and every bracket is carved with male and female mythological human figurines.


You will be able to witness the image of Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva, and Goddess Parvati’s wedding, and Lord Vishnu with his different postures. However, the paintings that were on the ceiling have faded with time.

Cave 4:

This cave is dedicated to the Jain Tirthankaras. The entrance of the cave has a veranda with five bays along with four square-shaped columns. Behind the veranda, there is a hall with four pillars. Two of them are connected and two are separate. 

Beyond the hall, there is a sanctuary. In the sanctuary, there is a statue of Lord Mahavira sitting on a lion’s throne with his attendants around him. On the walls, there is also a statue of Parshvanath with a multi-headed cobra on his head.

You can also see the statues of Bahubali and Indravati Gautama, who are covered by four snakes each. Bahubali’s daughters, Brahmi and Sundari, are sitting next to him. The sanctuary has another image of Lord Mahavira.

Cave 5:

This is the last cave of the complex and is very small in size. There is a statue of a Deity inside but it is still unknown whose statue it actually is. Some people think it is Lord Vishnu, some think it is Lord Buddha, and some think it is a Jain god or goddess. 

The statue shows a deity sitting on a throne with an elephant, a tree, and a lion on the sides.

Best time to visit Badami Cave Temples

The best time to visit the Badami cave temples is from October to March.

During this time, the weather is pleasant and the monsoon season has ended. So as you explore the caves, you can admire the serene beauty of the Agastya Lake, the majestic forts, and the scenic landscape of the Malaprabha valley.


Other attractions near Badami Cave Temples

There are many attractions close to Badami Cave Temples that you can visit after visiting Badami Cave Temples. Here are a few of them:

AttractionDistance from Badami Cave Temples
Badami Fort1 km
Banashankari Temple4 km
Agastya Lake1 km
Bhuthanatha Temples1 km

These are some points you must know about the Badami Cave Temples.

They have a lot of history in them and are quite intriguing. As you explore them and the complex, you will be amazed and have an understanding of how the works of art were before and how they influenced other forms of architecture. 

It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts tons of tourists. Visit this site if you want to experience the past and the incredibility that surrounds the place.

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The images used in the article are for representation purposes only.