In the town of Badami, located in North Karnataka in India, there is a complex of cave temples which are one of the most exquisite of Indian rock-cut architecture. In the 6th-century, the town was known as Vatapi and it was the Capital of the ancient kingdom of Chalukyas.
The whole town is surrounded by forts which were built from the 6th to the 8th-century. The construction of the forts with the caves was made by the Chalukyas in Chalukya style.
The caves temples were carved out of the soft sandstone from the cliffs and they are one of the earliest known examples of Hindu temples. Each of the caves has an open verandah, a sanctum, and pillars. The main hall of each temple, which is called maha mandapa, is standing on massive columns. One of the most important features of the caves are the ancient inscriptions in Kannada writing and Sanskrit languages.
The oldest cave was built in 575 AD and is about 59 feet above ground level on the northwestern part of the hill. The main hall of this cave contains pillars and a square shaped shrine at the back wall. It is carved with magnificent reliefs; the most impressive ones include the god Shiva shown in 81 dancing positions.
The third cave is also dedicated to Vishnu and is the largest and most renowned cave temple in Badami. It is the highlight of Deccani art and it has giant figures of Trivikrama, Harihara, and Varaha.
Lying to the east of cave three is cave four, situated higher than the other caves. It is the only Jain temple in the complex with an image of Mahavira adorning the sanctum.
Made in the late 6th century, this cave is the newest cave in the complex. People from all over the world come to Badami to visit these remarkable shrines because of their beautiful architectural style of the ancient times.
The Badami caves are the first example of later Hindu temples in the region and the whole complex is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.