Created 2-Aug-14
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Vatapi or Badami is located in the Bagalkot District of Karnataka State and was he capital of the Chalukya dynasty from 540 to 757 AD. The famous rock cut temples are located here. The Chalukyan Empire covered most of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka from the 6th to the 8th centuries. The dynasty reached its height during the reign of Pulakeshin II. After the Chalukyas, Badami lost its prominence. A mythological tale explains that a wicked Asura called Vatapi was killed by the sage Agasthya here. A lake in the vicinity of the caves is called the Agasthya Lake.

History of Badami can never be separated from the kings who ruled here and hence a short narration is presented on the various kings and the highlights of their reign.

Pulakeshin I: (544 – 567). He was the founder of the Chalukya dynasty and was also known as Vallabheshwara. The selection of Badami as the capital of the Chalukyas is of strategic importance since it is surrounded on three sides by sandstone cliffs and a lake on the fourth side. Pulakeshin I and his immediate successors were worshipers of God Vishnu and many icons of the Varaha (Boar) avatar of Vishnu are to be seen here

Kirttivarman I (567 – 598). After the demise of Pulakeshin I his son Kirttivarman I ascended the throne and was also referred to as the “First maker of Vatapi” and also the “Knight f Death” to his enemies. He embarked upon a mission for the expansion of the Chalukya empire through the Deccan.

Mangalesha (598 – 610). After the demise of Pulakeshin I his brother Mangalesha ascended the throne since Kirttivarman’s son – Pulakeshin II was still very young. Like any other king Mangalesha wanted the throne for his own son and this lead to a war between Mangalesha and Pulakeshin II who eventually vanquished Mangalesha and ascended the throne of Badami.

Pulakeshin II (610 – 642). During his time he was able to effectively take on Harshavardhana- one of the greatest kings from North India and was also successful in subduing the defiant chiefs from Andhra. However, his attempt to take on the Pallavas at Kancheepuram did not succeed.

Pallava Invasion (642 – 655). This is the period of Pallava invasion led by Narasimhavarman I who fought Pulakeshin II and nothing much is heard of him thereafter. The Pallavas took over Badami and ruled over Badami till about 655.

Vikramaditya I (655 – 681). A fairly long rule and is credited of having driven out the Pallavas from Badami. He prepared to attack the Pallavas and in his absence Badami was under the care of his son Vinayaditya. It is said that during the reign of Vikramaditya I there was a gradual shift of the Chalukyas from following God Vishnu to God Shiva (Vaishnavism to Shaivism)

Vinayaditya (681 – 696). A peaceful reign and lot of affluence was to be seen during his reign.

Vijayaditya (696 – 734). One of the longest rule and also one of the most prosperous. Like his farther Vinayaditya, Vijayaditya involved his son – Vikramaditya II in the day to day activities.

Vikramaditya II. (734 – 745). Perhaps one of the most successful Chalukya kings. Well known for his successful campaign against the Pallavas at Kancheepuram. His achievements have been inscribed on a pillar at Pattadakal by his son Kirttivarman II about the temples erected by him – Vikramaditya II and his father Vijayaditya. The two sister queens of Vikramaditya II - Lokamahadevi and Trilokadevi were responsible for the construction of two temples – The Virupaksha Temple (also known as Lokeshwara temple) and the Mallikarjuna temple (also known as Trilokeshwara temple) in honour of his successful campaign against the Pallavas. The magnificent temples in Pattadakal were during the reign of Vikramaditya II.

Kirttivarman II (745 – 757). He continued with the work of his father and was responsible for the erection of the famous pillar in Pattadakal with the inscriptions of the achievements of his father Vikramaditya II and grandfather Vijayaditya.

The Chalukyas were well known for their rock cut art and architecture and were unquestionably the masters of this art and architecture of the rock cut temples which are famous in Badami. Thus four caves were established to show case this aspect of their specialty.

The first cave temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The highlight is a five foot image of Nataraja, with 18 arms, depicting several dancing poses or mudras. This cave also has a fine carving of Mahishasuramardhini.

The second cave temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Large images of Bhoovaraha, Trivikrama, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Ananthashayana and Ashtadikpalakas adorn this cave.

The third cave temple is considered to be the most magnificent display of the cave temple architecture and sculpture of this period in Badami. It has wonderfully executed figures of many Hindu gods and an inscription found here dates this temple to 578 AD.

The fourth cave temple is a Jain Temple. The main figures here are that of the two Jain Saints, Mahavira and Parashvanatha. This shows that the Chalukyas were very tolerant of other forms of religion and were respectful to other cultures as well.

A mind boggling sight of temples dug into large rocks with intricate carvings on sandstone and awesome architecture. It shows that they were not only great artists but also very competent engineers to have perfected the rock cut art of temples that are so stable and standing in all their majesty and glory even today – after more than 1200 years.

Enjoy the pictures.

Shankar Adisesh

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Categories & Keywords
Category:Architecture and Structures
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Keywords:Architecture, Badami, Chalukyadynasty, Dravidian, I, I, I, II, II, II, Kirttivarman, Kirttivarman, Mangalesha, Pulakeshin, Pulakeshin, Rockcutcavetemples, Vatapi, Vatapi., Vijayaditya, Vikramaditya, Vikramaditya, Vinayaditya