Friday, September 2, 2016

Cradle of Temple Architecture

Aihole - Badami - Pattadakal 
along with
Ancient temples of Banashankari, Mahakuta, KudalaSangama
and Almatti Dam

Badami along with Aihole and Pattadakal is known as cradle of temple architecture in India. These were the places where, in ancient times, people from all over India came to learn temple architecture. In that respect it is said that Aihole was for beginners, Badami was for middle levels and Pattadakal for high levels.

I had been to this place once in 2004, so decided to refresh my memories. Last trip was along with friends, Anil, Pundareeka and Ravi Kumar. This times it was only me with myself.

These places are located in and around Bagalkot district of North Karnataka. Convenient place to reach here is via Hubali, which is a big city with trains and roads to different parts of India.

Caution: These places are for people deeply interested in knowing about rich Indian temple sculptures, architectures, history and related details.

Badami itself has a small railway station where a few trains stop. I decided to take a train to be there from Bangalore.

Train was on time and I reached Badami at around 715 AM Saturday morning. I had already blocked on room at KSTDC hotel Mayura Chalukya.

The railway station is about 6 KMs from Badami town center and auto charges something around 100-150 Rs. for reserved one.

Mr. Shankh, the manager of the hotel is very nice person. He helped me with a good room and also educated about different places to visit. He also helped in getting a taxi.

It was a weekend trip and my plan was as below:
Day 1: Visit the temples of Banashankari and Mahakuta. Then explore Pattadaka, Aihole and KudalaSangama.
Day 2: Explore Badami and then take train in evening.

The taxi driver suggested me to add Almatti dam also in day 1 itinerary. I happily agreed but Later I realized that it was a bit hectic so better plan would have been:

Day 1: Pattadakal, Aihole, Kudalasangama and Almatti. (Take Taxi)
Day 2: Visit the temples of Banashankari and Mahakuta and then explore Badami. (Take auto for temples and explore Badami by walk)

I became ready quickly and after a good breakfast of Upma, at about 830AM, took the taxi to start our day of exploration.

First, I went to the temple of mother Banashankari.

Banashankari Devi Temple is located at village of Cholachagudd,very near toBadami town, at distance of about 5 KMs. The temple deity is also called the Shakambhari an incarnation of the goddess Parvati.

The temple has a big pond, infront of it, but at this time, it was completely dry. There was a huge stone chariot, just outside the temple. The temple has a bit of Maratha style architecture.
Shri Banashankari Temple
The original temple was built by the 7th century Kalyani Chalukya kings, who worshipped goddess Banashankari as their tutelary deity.

It is also said that the original temple was in existence even before the reign of the Chalukyas.

There was no rush and peacefully I went into the sanctum.

“Shringaar” or decoration of mother was in progress with flowers and it was very pleasant feeling to be there. I thanked mother to give me opportunity to be in her lotus feet. Some people were sitting just outside main sanctum, perhaps wanted some Pooja to be done. As there was not much rush so I took time, to do prayers to mother and asking for help, mercy and blessings.

The temple is enclosed by a high wall on all sides. The main structure has a mukhamantapa (portico), ardhamantapa (entrance porch/chamber in front of the sanctum) and a sanctum topped by a Vimana (tower). The black stone sculpture depicts the goddess Banashankari seated on a lion trampling a demon under her foot. The goddess has eight arms and holds a trishul (trident), damaru (hand drum), kapaalpatra (skull cup), ghanta (war bell), Vedic scriptures and khadga-kheta (sword and shield).

The scriptures Skanda Purana and Padma Purana state that the demon Durgamasura harassed the people constantly. Answering the prayers of the Devas, the goddess appeared and restored peace by killing the demon.

The call of priest, bring me out of prayers. A few more people were in queue and I was obstructing their path. I bowed to mother again and slowly moved out of sanctum.

The forests around the temple have coconut, plantain and betel leaf plants and trees. It is also said that during a severe famine, the goddess provided vegetables and food for the people to survive and thus, the goddess was given the name Shakambhari.

Banashankari Jatre ('jatre' means a “fair”) is held as a cultural festival, at the temple precincts every year on the occasion of the Rath Yatra, for a period of about three weeks. Its starts on 8th day of Paushya masa. Pilgrims, congregate here in large numbers to celebrate the festival.

In the Rath Yatra or car festival, the temple goddess is taken in the chariot in a procession along the streets of the Cholachagudd village.

Outside the temple, there are signs of some old structures etc. Perhaps a little more preservation is required.

Now it was time to take road to Mahakuta ShivaYogi Temple.

The road was not in very excellent condition but ok. A lot of new road construction is in progress around Badami at this time.

The ShivaYogi temple is located in Mahakuta village about 15 KMs from Badami. There are several shrines in the compound and hence it’s called as Mahakuta group of temples. The temples are dated to the 6th or 7th century AD and were constructed by the early kings of the Chalukya dynasty, ruling from Badami.

The dating of the temples is based on the information in two notable inscriptions in the complex:

The Mahakuta Pillar inscription dated between 595–602 AD (written in the Sanskrit language and Kannada script) and an inscription of Vinapoti,dated between 696–733 AD and written in the Kannada language and script.

I visited the main shrine of Lord Shiva, which is at the left side when we enter the complex, infront of small water pond, and paid my prayers to the Lord of universe.

Mahakuta Shiva Yogi Temple
The artisans of the 7th century achieved a distinction in their architecture by combining the basic plan of Dravid style with characteristics of the Nagara style. The dravida style temples have a tiered tower over the shrine which is capped with a dome like structure. The nagara style temples use a curvilinear tower over a shrine which has a square plan, and is capped by a ribbed stone. The development of hybrid style here, achieved by combining the topological features of the two basic architectural styles, is considered a peculiarity of the Karnataka region and defines the beginnings of the Vesara style of architecture.

I took a slow walk across the entire complex, exploring all small and big temples, the sculptured figures and idols and capturing them in my memories with help from my trusted companion, Canon.

Dancing Shiva at Mahakuta Shiva Yogi Temple
A natural mountain spring flows within the temple complex and feeds fresh water into a large tank called the Vishnu Pushkarni ("Lotus pool of god Vishnu") and an ablution tank called PapavinashaTirtha ("Tank of Ablution"). 

Among the several shrines in the complex, the Mahakuteshvara temple and the Mallikarjuna temple are the largest. There is a small shrine in the centre of the Vishnu Pushkarni tank and in it is a Shiva linga (universal symbol of god Shiva) called Panchamukhalinga ("five faced linga"), one face for each direction and one on top.

Many people were taking bath in these two tanks and there were some charges associated for the Vishnu Pushkarni tank.

These all are very old temples and because of rush of pilgrims, are not in very good state of preservation. Perhaps something more needs to be done here to protect these important places of history and faith.

After these two important temples in the region, it was time to explore Pattadakal.

Pattadakal is located about 22 KMs from Badami and is an UNESCO world Heritage site. It is located on the left bank of the Malaprabha River. The river was complete dry when I visited here, as because of paucity of rain or because of many dams, I don’t know. The same Malaprabha river is full of waters at Kudala Sangama. I was a bit confused.

Pattadakal is the historical location where Badami Chalukya kings were crowned (Patta Abhisheka). It was the capital of the Chalukya dynasty between the 6th and 8th centuries.

Pattadakal is a centre of Chalukya art and architecture, noted for its temples and inscriptions.

It was about 10 AM, when I reached there. It was a good progress of things so far. Weather was good with Lord Anshumaan playing on and off with clouds.

As usual, I hired a guide there.

The Chalukya architecture style originated during the 5th – 8th centuries at Aihole in the Malaprabha river basin. Architects experimented with different architectural styles, blended the Nagara and Dravidian styles, and evolved their own distinctive style.

All the different places of interest are housed in one same complex here except one Jain and another Shiva temple. These two temples, who are outside the complex are facing the neglect as hardly tourists go there.

There are numerous Kannada language inscriptions at Pattadakal. Important among them are:

·         One at Virupaksha Temple, which is an 8th (733–745) century on victory pillar.
·         Another is in the Sangameshvara Temple.

The place is very well maintained by ASI. One should also see the Information Gallery which is just next to the ticket counter. It depicts in pictures the state of temple complex, before and after the conservation efforts.

My guide took me to the entire nook and corner of the complex, explaining about different temples, architecture style, different sculptures and idols and their history.

Sangameshwara Temple is said to be the oldest temple in Pattadakal, built by Chalukya King Vijayaditya Satyashraya in the 7th century. The temple is in Dravidian style and consists of a sanctum, inner passage and navaranga. The sanctum and inner passage are enclosed by a path way for pradakshina, which has several lattices of different design; sculptured on the outer walls are various figures like Ugranarasimha and Nataraja. 

To the left of the Sangameshvara is the small Chandrashekhara Temple. This small shrine consists of sanctum with a Shivalinga and a small hall. Only one idol of doorkeeper remains now.

Every time I visit such historical place, more and more I realize the great culture that we have inherited and how the the time brings everything to dust!

Galaganatha Temple contains a sculpture of Lord Shiva killing the demon Andhakasura. Perhaps this is the theme of this temple. The Chalukyas of those perios were devotees of Shiva. It is good to see how the spear of Shiva is carved out. It is shown as piercing through the demon. In several niches are small figures of Kubera, Gajalakshmi and others. 

There is only temple in entire complex, where it’s still in worship. This is Virupaksha Temple.

Virupaksha temple is the largest and grandest of all temples in Pattadakal, built in 8th century, by queen Lokamahadevi to commemorate her husband's victory (Vikramaditya II) over the Pallavas of Kanchi. The Virupaksha temple is rich in sculptures. There are inscriptions and imposing stone carved figures inside the stone mantapa. There is a four-pillared Nandimantapa, which has a fine large stone Nandi bull. It is said that the famous Kailasa temple at Ellora and the Kailasantha temple at Kanchipuram were built based on the model of Virupaksha temple here.

At the Nandi Mantapa, I was greeted by the priest and another old gentleman. The guide told me about the old gentleman, who was a retired primary school teacher with 96 years of age, still fit enough to be on his own feet.

With modern life style, only a few can reach this number and even with this fitness.

There was a tourist couple outside the temple, perhaps from Japan. They were hesitating to enter the sanctum, but I invited them inside and they happily came and were wowed to see the carvings on pillars, walls and roof.

The hair styles of different figures, both of males and females are good to see here. Guide told me that a total of 16 different hair styles have been carved.

Mallikarjuna Temple is a smaller version of the Virupaksha temple and was built by Vikramadiyta's second queen Trilokyamahadevi. The porch has a beautiful image of Narasimha killing Hiranyakashipu and two female idols. The pillars of the navaranga have figures pertaining to Ramayana and Mahabharata. On the ceiling are beautiful figures of Gajalakshmi and Shiva-Parvathi with Nandi. On the external walls are sculptures like Shiva, Nandi, Nataraja, etc.

There are many small temples in the complex, where nothing much has left. The time has taken its toll badly.

I walked slowly with my guide through entire complex capturing moments in my ever hungry Canon. As the stones here are of a bit red in color so in ancient time this place was also known as “RaktaPura”. I am not sure if this name is because of the colors of stone or if this name meant some war and associated bloodshed.

Kadasiddeshvara temple is a small one, which has a sculpture of Shiva holding a trident or trishul in his hands and the Jambulinga Temple nearby were built in Nagara style.

There is a damaged victory tower close to Virupaksha Temple. Not sure how it got broken, was it vandalized or time took its toll.

Papanatha Temple is located to the south of the Virupaksha Temple. At the doorway of the inner hall are idols of door-keepers, Nandi and Virabhadra. On the external walls are figures of lion and elephant riders and Ramayana scenes.

Kasivisvesvara Temple was the last to be built in early Chalukya style. This temple was built by the Rashtrakutas in the 8th century.

After the defeat of the last Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar empire in 1565 AD, it is said that the victorious Muslim armies damaged the temples here.

After covering the complex, I was ready to take leave. I thanked my guide for precious information and the interest and patience with which he explained my numerous questions.

Aihole is about 10 KMs from Pattadakal. The road was good with greenery and small mountains on both sides.

Aihoḷe has about 125 stone temples dating from 5th century AD to 12th century AD. It lies to the east of Pattadakal, along the Malaprabha River, while Badami is to the west of both.

Aihoḷe was earlier known as Ayyavoḷe and Aryapura in its inscriptions. It was established in 450 AD as first capital of Chalukya kings. Most of the temples here were constructed as experimental structures by student artisans of Chalukyan period.

According to mythology Aihole is where Parashurama washed his axe after killing the Kshatriyas. The waters of Malprabha river became red and the women washing their cloths some distance away, shouted in fear as “Ayyavoḷe”.

The first phase of temple building in Aihole dates back to the fifth–sixth century,the second phase up to the 12th century.

It is difficult to visit all the temples. Most of the temple complex does not have any idols or sculptures, as they were carved by artisans as practice. The few good to visit are:

Durga temple complex which includes the Lad Khan Temple

      Hucchimalli temple complex
      Ravanaphadi rock-cut temple
      Meguti Jain temples on hill

This above is not any particular list. There are many other temples, which can be visited as the time permits. The Meguti Jain temple on hill takes an excursion to the top of hills, which I avoided due to afternoon Sun and time.
Durg Temple
Although ASI is doing its best to save the temples here, but many of them are badly encroached. Some of them like Meguti Jain Temple on hill is not very convenient to go particularly if one is with females and kids.

Aihole did not got the world Heritage Status because of the encroachment of temples by people. I saw many small temples are being used as houses or extension of houses by people.

The entire village is full of mud and dust. ASI should work with local administration to clean up the encroachment and to update the civic amenities. The local people should understand that tourism is a big income and if they don’t protect these monuments, it will be a great loss, not only to them but to the entire India and world.

I hired a guide at the Durga Temple complex. This one is must to be seen at Aihole.
Durga temple or fortress temple is the best known of the Aihole temples. Its plan is along the lines of a Buddhist chaitya, a high moulded adhisthana and a tower (curvilinear shikhara). A pillared corridor runs around the temple. All through the temple, there are beautiful carvings. The temple appears to be of the late 7th or early 8th century.

People gets confused this temple to be of Goddess Durga, but as the guide told me this shrine belonged to Sun god. Its actually “Durg” Temple or the Fortress temple.

One interesting thing which I came to know is that for most of the temples, the name was given by British, depending upon who were living in them. By 19th century the temples were converted as houses by locals. Example is Lad Khan Temple and Hucchimalli temple.
Lad Khan Temple
Lad Khan Temple consists of a shrine with two mantapas in front of it. The shrine has a Shiva lingam. The temple is built in a Panchayat hall style, indicating a very early experiment in temple construction. The Ladkhan temple, so named, as person of the name had lived here in 19th century, when the British were doing the census for the first time. The west, south and north walls have beautifully carved stone lattices. In the center Nandi is installed, and just above Nandi, there is a damaged Nagara shikhara. The period of this structure is about 450 A.D.

Besides these above two temples, there are many small shrines in the complex. Most of them are very simple without any carvings and indicate the beginning of era of temple architecture in India.

The Museum and Art Gallery is a sculpture gallery maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India in the Durga Temple complex. It is a must visit.
Huchimalli temple was built in the 7th century and shows an evolution in the temple plan, as it has an ardhamantapa or an ante-chamber annexed to the main shrine. It is in this temple the shukanasa or the vestibule was introduced for the first time.
RavanaPhadi Caves
Now we took the road to RavanaPhadi caves. Except me, no one was there!

RavanPhadi Cave temple dates back to the 6th century, with a rectangular shrine, with two mantapas. There is a Shivalinga in the inner room or sanctum sanctorum. The walls and sides of the temple are covered with large figures including dancing Shiva. This rock-cut shrine has a fine figure of Nataraja dancing, surrounded by Saptamatrikas, engraved in elegant styles. 

From here, one can have a good view of Megutijain Temples on the hill as well as 6th century two-storied Buddhist Cave temple which is a partly rock-cut structure. 
Meguti Jain temple stands on a hillock. The temple sits on a raised platform, and a flight of steps leads one to the mukhamantapa. There is another shrine on the roof, directly above the main shrine. On one of the outer walls is found the famous Aihole inscription dated 634 A.D. recording the construction of the Jinendra temple by Ravikeerti, who was a commander and minister of Pulakeshin II. To the south-east of Meguti is a small Jaina cave, which houses a five-foot tall-Bahubali figure and other Tirthankaras engraved in other parts against walls.

Happy to visit the precious monuments that our ancestors have left for us and equally sad and a bit frustrated how we are handling these, I took the road to Kudala Sangama. 

Buddhist Caves and Meguti Jain Temple
It was quite hot and humid now. I was badly thirsty but there was no shop on roadsides. I was fuming on my mistake of not carrying water.

Finally, about 45 minutes later, about 35 KMs from Aihole, I got water at KudalaSangama. 
Sangameshwara Temple
Kudalasangama is an important center of pilgrimage, particularly for people of the Lingayat faith. The Krishna and Malaprabha River rivers merge here and flow east towards Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh. The Aikya Mantapa or the holy Samadhi of Basavanna, the founder of the Lingayat faith along with Linga, which is believed to be self-born (Swayambhu) is here. 
Aikya Mantapa
There are two shrines in the same complex, one is Sangameshwara and another is Aikya Mantapa.

The Sangameshwara temple consists of a porch, navaranga and the main shrine. The idols of Basaveshvara, Neelamma, Nandi and Ganapathi have been placed in the navaranga. In the shrine is the linga famous as Sangameshvara or Sangamanatha.

In front of the temple, in the midst of the river, at the point of confluence of Krishna and Malaprabha, is a small stone mantapa with a Shivalinga in it, lofty cement concrete dry well has been built around it to protect it from submersion. This is AikyaMantapa, the Samadhi of Guru Basvanna.

To reach Aikya Mantapa, one has to walk towards the confluence on the constructed pathway and then a flight of steps, takes one down to the Samadhi Place. 

The place is very peaceful and I felt blessed to be there. It is easy to go into meditation here on the banks of mighty rivers under the blessings and ever presence of Guru Basvanna and Lord Sangamanatha.

I spend some good moments there.

I had not taken lunch, but was not feeling to take it either. Perhaps because of heat and humidity, my body was not willing for it. I just kept on taking water as much as possible. 

Now it was late afternoon and time to take road to the last destination for the day, the Almatti Dam. It is about 30 KMs from Kudalasangama.

The Almatti Dam is a hydroelectric project on the Krishna River in North Karnataka. 
Rock Garden
Many gardens have been developed as a picnic spot in the dam area. Interesting ones are, the Rock Graden and then the Mogul garden, Italian garden and the French Garden. There is also a Musical Dancing Fountain (MDF), which starts at 6 PM.
Rock Garden
There is also a beautiful structure called "Entrance Plaza" is being constructed there and is about to complete.
Lots of walking required here. First I went to Rock Garden. Its like a beautiful small forest with many animals as well as village life sculpted in ceramics. It may be of great interest to Kids. There is also a food court.

Mogul Garden
A further about a KM away are the different gardens and Musical Dancing Fountain (MDF).

These three Gardens, Mogul, Italian and French and very beautiful. The Italian and the Mogul have the water flowing in midst of them with colorful lights, whereas French Garden is full greenery.

Italian Garden
I visited both Italian and Mogul gardens and walked from one end to other, but I was not able to find the French Garden. One Gentleman from Vaishali, Bihar, who was employed here, took me to this garden. It was on the other side of the artificial water stream leading to Musical Dancing Fountain (MDF).
Mogul garden and the Krishna River
Musical Dancing Fountain (MDF), was closed at the time and was planned to be started at 6 PM. Badly tired, I was in no mood to wait till then.

French Garden
It was about 440 PM and Badami is about 70 KMs from here. I asked my cab driver to start for Badami.

I was back to hotel at about 6 PM. One refreshing tea helped me to get relaxed. My legs were paining badly because of long walks for exploration at Badami, Aihole and then at Almatti. I needed rest as next day was to explore Badami, and there is no better way to do excursion than to do it by walk!

I took dinner at around 730 PM, a delicious south Indian Thali.

There was first T20 match going on between India and West Indies. It has become very interesting in the end. I enjoyed it though India lost by 1 run!

Next day morning I wake up at around 6 AM and quickly got ready. At around 8 AM, I was done with breakfast and was on the way to Badami Caves, which is about 1 KM from hotel Mayura Chalukya.

One caution here. In and around the Badami Caves as well as Badami fort, the monkeys are a menace. Don’t carry any food items or water bottles openly. It’s better to carry a small stick to keep them away.

I took one stick from Hotel. Ibrahim helped me get one.

Badami, formerly known as Vatapi, was the capital of the Chalukyas from 540 AD to 757 AD. It is famous for its rock cut structural caves and temples.

The Puranic story says the wicked demon Vatapi was killed by sage Agastya, the area in which the incident happened so named as Vatapi.

There were two demon siblings Vatapi and Ilvala. They used to kill unsuspecting people by tricking them in a peculiar way. The elder Ilvala would turn Vatapi into a ram and would offer its meat to the guest. As soon as the person ate the meat, Ilvala would call out the name of Vatapi. As he had a boon that whomsoever Ilvala calls would return from even the netherland, Vatapi would emerge ripping through the body of the person, thus killing him. Their trick worked until Sage Agastya countered them by digesting Vatapi before Ilvala could call for him, thus ending the life of Vatapi at the hands of Ilvala. Two of the hills in Badami represent the demons Vatapi and Ilvala.

There is an Agastya Lake in the town and a small cave in the Bhoothnatha temple complex. This cave is said to be sanctified by Sage Agastya who did meditation here.

This cave is mentioned as Badami Cave number 5. It is a small natural cave and one needs to crawl to enter into it.

Badami was founded as capital in 540 AD by Pulakeshin I, an early ruler of Chalukyas. An inscription record of this king engraved on a boulder in Badami records the fortification of the hill above "Vatapi" in 544 AD.

The rock-cut Badami Cave Temples were sculpted mostly between the 6th and 8th centuries. cave 1 is devoted to Shiva, and caves 2 and 3 are dedicated to Vishnu, whereas cave 4 displays reliefs of Jain Tirthankaras.

Cave 5 is a natural cave at the end of Bhootnatha Complex. It is still unclear that the sculpture in this belongs to whom? The face of this sculpture was intact till 1995, but has been defaced now.

Nobody knows, who did it, but we all lost over fifteen centuries old craftsmanship.

There have been a total of eighteen inscriptions found in Badami.

In the Carnatic music and Hamsadhwani raga the Vatapi Ganapatim Bhaje by the composer Muthuswami Dikshitar is very famous. The idol of Vatapi Ganapati brought from Badami by Pallavas, is now in the Uthrapathiswaraswamy Temple, near Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu.
Badami Caves (Cave no. 1 is seen here)
Badami caves are man-made, all carved out of soft sandstone on a hill cliff. The plan of each of the four caves (1 to 4) includes an entrance with a verandah (mukhamandapa) supported by stone columns and brackets, leading to a columned mandapa, or main hall (also mahamandapa), and then to the small, square shrine (sanctum sanctorum, garbhaghrha) cut deep inside the cave. The cave temples are linked by a stepped path.
MahishasurMardini, Cave 1
 I walked from my hotel to these caves, about a KM or so. Not many moneys I found there. There were a few peoples in the cave. I tried to hire a guide, but as the charges were very high, I decided to explore myself, with help from Wikipedia.

Cave temple 1 may be the oldest in Badami. It is made of red sandstone and has a hall with many pillars and a square shaped sanctum. There are sculptures of Shiva and Parvati with a coiled serpent and the 18 armed lord Nataraja in 81 dancing poses.

Dancing Shiva (81 poses of Bharatnatyam?)
Alice Boner – a Swiss art historian and Indologist, says is a time division symbolizing the cosmic wheel. Shiva has his son Ganesha and the bull Nandi by his side.

There is also figure of Mahishasuramardini and several other rock –cut dwarf images of kubjaganas, Nagaraja or snake king, Vidhyadhara couple etc. are on the ceiling. Ganesha and Kartikkeyare seen in one of the carved sculptures on the walls of the cave, with Kartikeya riding a peacock.

The cave also has carved sculptures of the goddesses Lakshmi and Parvati flanking Harihara, a sculpture that is half-Shiva and half-Vishnu. To the right, toward the end of the wall, is a relief sculpture of Ardhanarishvara, a composite androgynous form of Shiva and his consort Parvati along with a female decorated goddess holding a flat object in her left hand; Nandi, the bull and Bhringi, a devotee of Shiva.

On the ceiling are images of the Vidyadhara couples.

Move further and there is second cave, quite similar to first one.

Cave 2
This cave is dedicated to Vishnu (as Trivikrama) with one foot mastering the Earth and the other the sky. On its front are the guards or dwarapalakas holding lotus in their hands. East and West walls of the cave have large images of Bhuvaraha and Trivikrama. On the ceiling are engraved Ananthashayana, Bramha, Vishnu, Shiva and Asthadikpalakas.

Similar as Cave 1 in terms of its layout and dimension, the cave 2 entrance is a verandah divided by four square pillars. The cave is adorned with reliefs of guardians. 

Cave 3
The adjacent side walls and ceiling have traces of colored paint, suggesting the cave used to have fresco paintings. The columns show battle scenes; the churning of the cosmic ocean (SamudraManthan); Gajalakshmi, Vishnu asleep on Shesha; illustrations of the birth of Krishna; Krishna's youth; Krishna with gopis etc.

The ceiling of Cave 2 shows a wheel with sixteen fish spokes in a square frame along with swastikas and flying couples. The end bays have a flying couple and Vishnu on Garuda.

As I go further up, towards the third cave, I noticed one big cave on right side, just after second cave. Not sure, if it is natural one, but there is nothing of interest in this. A few steps up, I crossed the fort wall to reach the third cave.

The third cave is dedicated to Vishnu, and is the best and the biggest, and it has splendid giant figures of Harihara and Narasimha. An inscription found here records the creation of the shrine by Mangalesha in 578 AD. There are some paintings on the ceiling but has lost its original color. These are among the earliest known surviving evidence of fresco painting in Indian art.

Cave 3

There is a carving of the Tirthankara Parshavnatha. Mahavira is depicted in a sitting posture. The pedestal contains an old Kannada inscription of the 8th century A.D. Scores of Jain Thirthankara images have been engraved in the inner pillars and walls. 
This cave is most beautiful one, among all the caves here. The stones pillars have been carved and chiseled out beautifully. 

Further up, there is a small cave dedicated to Jain Tirthankars.

Cave 4
In the sanctum, Mahavira is represented sitting on a lion throne; he is flanked by bas-reliefs of attendants with chauri (fans), sardulas and makara's heads. In addition there are idols of Yakshas and other Tirthankaras. 

Bhootnatha group of Temple (Cave 5 is next to it)
From these caves the view of north hill temples as well as Agatya Lake with Bhootnatha Temple complex are very beautiful.

After visiting fourth cave, I started back. While returning again I went to each cave and give my mind and camera, another dose of beautiful ancient sculptures!

Another cave was discovered in 2015, about 500 metres (1,600 ft) from the four main caves, with 27 Hindu carvings. I could not find a way to go there, neither anyone around knew that.
Cave 4 and 3 (left to right)
I descended and then walked towards the Museum.

On the way to Cave 3 and 4
The narrow path to Museum goes just infront of the caves. Right side is the Agastya Lake and a few step up, is an ancient Temple. Perhaps for Dattatreya?

People as well as local authorities should work together to keep this narrow path clean. Small children taking nature’s call on these narrow street was a common site. There are also a lot of dogs and pigs roaming freely here. 
ASI Museum, Badami
The ASI Museum is quite good. I always appreciate museums and make a point to visit them whenever I get time. The sculpture of “Lajja Gauri “ was quite interesting who is still worshipped in some parts of India as Goddess of fertility. Her head is of lotus and she carries lotus in both her hands.
Fort Gate (North Hills)
Just next to museum, there are steps which go to the fort. There were not many people and I was a bit hesitant to go up, because of monkeys, but then I held my nerves and took the steps.

It is a relatively easy climb with many view points and dotted with little shrines. The path is laid with neatly cut stone. 

Famous bollywood movie “Rowdy Rathore” as well as many other movies have been shot here.

There are two temples, the “Lower Shivalaya” and the “Upper Shivalaya”. Both are said to be from 6th Century AD.

There were a few people there. It was quite peaceful. The sound of breeze and the distant sound of civilization were making the place quite soothing.
Lower Shivalaya
There was not much to see in the Lower Shivalaya. Just behind that there is a Gun directed towards the town. It has been marked as 1550. Heard that Tipu Sultan, put it there, but what does this number indicates. In those days, those people were not using the english calender and scripts.

There was a gang of monkeys on the way up to the "Upper Shivalalya". I hesitated a little bit. Two more gentle men, wanted to go up, but were unsure of monkeys. A few sconds of thoughts, and I moved ahead with determination. Monkeys gave us the way and moved aside.
Upper Shivalaya
The "Upper Shivalalya" is at the top of the hill and enjoys the commanding view of surrounding. It is also little more beautifully sculptured than the Lower Shivalaya and also bigger than that.

Very close to the "Upper Shivalaya" temple, there is a small room with white plaster. 

Tourists have defaced it with their names. Not sure when we will get the travel sense and will make sure that we leave these places intact for the coming generations.
This place has two underground chambers, now filled with dirty water bottles and other filth that tourists of our age has put in those. It is said that they were made to keep the treasury of Tipu.

In between both the Shivalayas, there are three granary's. These were made to store grains for the fort residents.

Enjoying the view and breeze from there, I descended from fort and walked towards the Bhootnatha group of Temples.
Rowdy Rathore was shot here
It is close to Fort, on our left side as we come out.

The Bhutanatha group of temples is a cluster of sandstone shrines dedicated to the deity Bhutanatha. There are two major temples here. Temple No.1, on the east side of the lake, called the Bhutanatha temple resembles North Indian style with its open mantapa, while the smaller Temple No.2 on the north-east side of the lake, called Mallikarjuna group of temples, has a stepped superstructure.

Sculptures at the other side of Lake
In the inner hall of the Bhutanatha temple, a heavy architrave above the columns divides the hall into a central nave and two aisles. Perforated windows bring dim light into the inner mantapa. On either side of the foot of the shrine doorway is an image, that of goddess Ganga on her vehicle, the makara, on the right, and on the left, that of goddesses Yamuna riding the tortoise.

Mallikarjun Group of Temples
To the north of the hall is a small shrine which was originally consecrated for Vishnu.

Sculptures on the way to Cave 5 from Bhootnatha Temple
Mallikarjun Temples is a little cluster with few temples with similar sculptures as dominated in the area. Beautiful gardens around it has been established by ASI.

Behind these temples, there is small Cave 5, which I mentioned earlier. On the big rock, as we go towrds the cave, there are many bas-reliefs. Just behind this rock, there is small shrine, with vishnu lying as Ranganatha.

The cave 5 is infront of this. Be careful to notice it.

Cave 5
Inside, there is bas-relief of one sage, I guess Agastya. Though the main sculpture is damaged. It might be shiva in yogi pose or Jain Tirthankar. Still the archaeologists and Historians are not sure.

I started back to my hotel, clicking wherever I see any good view.

It was noon time, I took south India Thali for lunch. The very helpful Manager Mr Shankh and his staff member Ibrahim, allowed me to be there on a sofa to wait till evening. I was badly tired with lot of walk in two days.

Evening, it started raining. I asked help with Mr Shankh and he helped to get an auto for me to drop to Railway Station.

Though the train was late to start with, but I reached almost on time on Monday morning to my home, sweat home!


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