23 km from Pattadakal is Badami that occupies an important place in the heritage history of Karnataka. Badami is picturesquely nestled at the mouth of a ravine between two rocky hills. The exquisite sculptures and sandstone cliffs of Badami bring forth many a tale from the yesteryears. Four rock-cut caves adorned with ancient carved pillars and bracket figures cut out of red sandstone is just a flight of steps away. The caves overlook the Agastya Theertha Lake, its banks dotted with a group of Bhutanatha Temples. Dedicated to Shiva’s form as the god of souls, spirits and ghosts, the Bhutanatha Temple dates back to the 7th century with the outer mantapa added in 11th century during the late Kalyani Chalukyan age. The caves are best seen at sunset when the evening sun captures the rust-red tint of the sandstone. A visit to Pattadakal is coupled with the visit to Badami and Aihole.
The first Badami cave temple is dedicated to Nataraja (Lord Shiva). Lifesize 18 handed Nataraja image striking 81 dance poses welcomes the visitors here.
This Badami cave temple is flanked by celestial guardians and dwarf statues. This cave shows several of Lord Vishnu’s avatars. Four ornate pillars with carvings of the mythical lion Yali support this temple
This is the finest as well as the largest of the group. It has giant-sized images of Lord Vishnu seated on a coiled serpent along with other images of the Vaishnava pantheon. As in other caves, every inch of the roof and pillars are carved.
This cave temple is dedicated to the Jainism. A small cave with images of Jain Tirthankaras, the sanctum holds a large sculpture of Lord Mahavira. This temple leads to the fort and the top of the hill.
On the northern banks of Agastya Theertha Lake and the other side of the Cave Temples, a series of elegant temples and carvings await those who complete an arduous climb through a stony chasm and fortified gateways. The Upper Shivalaya Temple still has some friezes and sculptures depicting legends relating to Lord Krishna. Perched on a rock, the Malegatti Shivalaya is an example of the ancient southern style of architecture. Badami was formerly known as Vatapi and served as the capital city of Badami Chalukyas.
Do not miss visiting the archaeological museum and granary in the premises of Badami caves.
Places to visit near: A visit to Badami is often clubbed with a visit to Pattadakal (20 km) and Aihole (35 km)
How to reach: Badami is 450 km from Bengaluru. Hubballi is the nearest airport (105 km). Badami has a train station and good bus service and road connectivity from Bengaluru and other parts of Karnataka.
Places to stay near: KSTDC runs Hotel Mayura Chalukya, as well as several private hotels, are available in Badami town.