Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal near Bijapur
in Karnataka are centers of Early Chalukyan art. Badami is located at a distance of about
500 km from Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka and is well connected by road
Badami or Vatapi was
the center of ancient Chalukyan glory. It was home to several rock-cut
temples and structural temples. Historically, Vatapi suffered defeat at
the hands of the Pallava king Narasimhavarma Pallavan (Mamalla
after whom Mamallapuram is named) and his general Sirutonda
Naayanaar in the year 642 CE. Twelve years later, the Chalukyas
recaptured Vatapi and led a successful attack on Kanchipuram
the capital of Pallavas.
Legend has it there were two demon
siblings Vatapi and Ilvala, who had a trick by which
they could kill and make a meal of mendicants passing by. Their tricks worked until Agastya
muni came by and counter-tricked them and brought an end to Vatapi's life. Two of the
hills in Badami are supposed to represent the demons Ilvalan
There are several temples dating from the Chalukyan
period in Badami.
The first set of temples is a group of four on a
hill adjacent to the Bhutanata tank, connected through flights of stairs.
The first temple dating back to the 5th
century CE has gigantic carvings of Ardhanareeswara and Harira
manifestations of Shiva in bas relief. It enshrines a Shivalingam.
In the adjacent wall there is a carving of the cosmic dance of Shiva Nataraja
depicted with eighteen arms. There are also reliefs of Ganapati, Shanmukha
The second temple bears images of Vishnu
in his Varaha and Trivikrama incarnations. It is reached
through a flight of 64 stairs from the first one. On its celing, are carvings of Vishnu on
Garuda and several other scenes from the puranas.
The third rock cut temple is reached from the 2nd
temple through a flight of 60 steps. It is a 100 feet dep cave, with inscriptions dating
this Vishnu temple to 578 CE during, the period of Kiritivarma
Chalukya. Here there are carved images of the Narasimha
and Trivikrama avataras of Vishnu. There are also murals
depicting the divine marriage of Shiva and Parvati.
Further up, is a Jain rock cut temple
dedicated to the Tirtankara Adinatha with inscriptions dating back to the
Of the structural temples in Badami,
the Dattatreya temple and the Mallikarjuna are noteworthy. The
Mallikarjuna temple dating back to the 11th century is built on a star shaped plan.
There are also temples with the Dravidian style of vimanas.
Badami is noted for two early
inscriptions dating events in history in the 6th century. The earlier one in sanskrit
dates back to 543 CE, from the period of Pulakesi I (Vallabheswara), on a hillock. Near
the Bhutanata temple, on a rock, there is an inscription testifying Mamalla Pallava's
victory over the Chalukyas in the year 642 CE.