The Gupta dynasty and its successors had declined by the end of the 6th century and several changes took place in the Deccan and Southern India. By the time the Vakatakas had collapsed the early Kaluchuris dynasty established itself around 520 A.D and flourished till 600 A.D. The Kaluchuris are noted for Pasupata Saivism, a religious movement in the Deccan and South Asia. They excavated the Jogeswari caves,Mandapeshwara,Elephanta and the Dhumar Lena at Ellora. They were overtaken by the Western Chalukyas of Karnataka. The Kadambas of Banavasi ruled in South Karnataka and were also overtaken by the Western Chalukyas, who were Dravidian and ruled from Badami (ancient Vatapi) and called Badami Chalukyas. Their ruler Pulakesin I fortified the area of Badami in 543 A.D. Pulakesin II was its most notable ruler. He defeated Harsha on the banks of the Narmada. He expanded the kingdom to the northern limits of the Pallava kingdom. However in 642 A.D Pallava king Narasimhavarman occupied Badami for some time. Pulakesin died fighting. However the Chalukyas regained power under Vikramaditya I. Later Vijayaditya (696-733) ruled for 37 years and built many temples. Vikramaditya II ruled 733 – 744 A.D and was victorious over Pallava king Nandivarman II. He was a kind ruler, made temples at Kanchipuram too. Thus this early Chalukyan dynasty ruled most of the Deccan for 200 years; from mid 6th century to mid 8th century. They were overthrown by the Rashtrakutas.This dynasty is remembered for it rock-cutting sculpture and later structural temples. The rock cut tradition is found at Aihole and Badami in Karnataka. The Ravana Pahadi Cave at Aihole was excavated in 550 A.D.
The Badami caves were excavated under the Chalukyas who were patrons of art. Badami was the capital of the Early Chalukyas. Badami is 5 km from the Malaprabha river.The rock is sandstone and the caves are next to an artificial lake, Lake Agastya. There are four main caves.
Badami Caves, 6th century,Karnataka.
By SUDHIR KUMAR D – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28398778
Badami Caves,6th century, Karnataka.
By rajeshodayanchal (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Cave 1 is Saivite. The forecourt of the cave is barely there. A mandapa with pillars and a small shrine are part of the cave. The facade has frieze of dwarfs. The sculpture of Nataraja with Ganesha and a drummer is seen at this cave. The image is 5 feet tall. The different arms are in different mudras and holding different objects. Nandi, the bull, the vehicle of Shiva can also be seen. Adjoining the Nataraja is Goddess Durga as Mahisasuramardini. This cave also has Ganesha, Kartikeya sculptures carved on its walls. There is also Harihara (half Vishnu, half Shiva) with Goddesses Lakhsmi and Parvati. There is also a relief sculpture of Shiva as ardhanarishwara, the androgynous Shiva along with consort Parvati. The verandah which is 75 feet by 65 feet has four columns with various carvings of Shiva. two dwarapalas guard the entrance. The carvings of this cave are ornate with the figures having borders around them with more reliefs of birds and animals. The ceiling has Vidyadharas. Lotus motifs have been much used. The roof has five carved panels with shesha, yaksha figure, apsara and lotuses.
Nataraja at Badami caves, 6th century,Karnataka.
By Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France – Temple troglodytique dédié à Shiva (Badami, Inde), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37213652
Harihara,Badami Caves,6th century,Karnataka.
By Ismoon (talk) 21:54, 10 June 2013 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Cave 2 is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Steps lead to this cave which lies west of Cave 3. The entrance verandah is divided by four pillars with brackets further having sculptures. many Hindu deities are carved in this cave. Lord Vishnu as Trivikrama or Vamana is depicted in this cave. One foot is on the earth and one is directed north.Vishnu as Varaha too is depicted in this cave. The dwarapalas of this cave are shown holding flowers. the columns are sculpted too showing mythological scenes including those from Lord Krishna’s life. The ceiling has a wheel with 16 fish spokes along with flying couples and swastikas.
Cave 3 is again a Vaishnavite cave with giant figures of Lord Vishnu as Trivikrama,Anantasayana,Varaha,Paravasudeva,Harihara and Narasimha. The cave faces north and is sixty steps away form Cave 2. The verandah is 70 ft. by 65 ft. and has four free standing pillars with carvings. this cave is fifteen feet high. There are fresco scenes on the ceiling,mostly mythological. Lord Brahma, the wedding of Lord Shiva and Parvati are depicted. The roof of the verandah has seven panels with paintings in circular compartments of Hindu deities and images of dwarapalas.
Lord Vishnu,Badami Caves,6th century,Karnataka.
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Sculpture,Vaishnava cave temple,Badami Caves, 6th century.
By Dineshkannambadi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Carvings,Badami caves,6th century,Karnataka.
By Naane.naanu (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Lord Vishnu as Trivikrama,Badami Caves,6th century,Karnataka.
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Cave 4 is located to the east of Cave 3, higher than the other caves. It is dedicated to Jaina deities. Like the others this cave is also richly carved. The entrance to the cave has five bays with four columns having brackets. The verandah of this cave is smaller compared to the other caves.A hall behind the verandah has two free and two joined pillars. The sanctum sanctorum is reached through steps where Lord Mahavira is depicted seated on a lion throne. On two sides are attendants holding fly whisks. Parshvanatha is carved with a snake hood. This cave has Indrabhuti Gautama, Bahubali,Padmavati and also yaksha and yakshi figures.
Lord Mahavira,Badami Caves, Karnataka.
By Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France – Temple troglodytique jaïn (Badami, Inde), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37213634
Tirthankaras,Badami Cave 4, Karnataka.
Cave 5 is not yet dated, small natural cave and can be approached only by crawling with a sculpted figure seated on a throne.
Badami caves, 6th century,Karnataka.
By Raamanp (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
- The art of ancient India/Huntington,Susan,New York : Weatherhill,1985.