The rich past of Badami is closely linked with the ancient Kingdom of Chalukyas which date back to 600 and 700 AD. Chalukayas built number of temples, and other monuments that marked the beginning of the Hindu style of architecture. This new style was the blend of two distinct architecture - the Indo-Aryan Nagara style and the Dravidian style. Known as the Chalukyan style, this style is apparent in many cave temples, dedicated to Brahmanical deities, as well as the many Buddhist and Jain monasteries in the region.
The Chalukyan style of architecture is quite evident in the cave temples of Badami. These famous temples are carved out of sandstone housing a shrine, a hall, an open verandah and pillars. The exquisite carvings and sculptures make these cave temples noteworthy. Badami town also girds a number of carved monuments and other temples located on the bank of the reservoir. Each cave has a sanctum sanctorum, a mandapa, a verandah and pillars. The cave temples also bear exquisite carvings, sculptures and beautiful murals. The caves:
Cave 1: The famous cave dates back to 578 A.D, carved out of red sandstone and was most likely the first to be carved. The cave has 40 odd steps that take one to the covered verandah, a hall with many pillars. Shiva as Natraja with 18 arms is seen in 81 dancing poses. Column beams are exquisitely crafted. On the ceiling one can see the paintings of passionate couples. One also comes across sculptures of the deities of Harihara (half-Vishnu, half-Siva), their consorts Lakshmi and Parvati and, and Ardhanarishwar. The square shaped sanctum hollowed in the control back wall enshrines the Shiva-linga.
Cave 2: The second cave is perched on a sandstone hill. The Lord is depicted in his various incarnations, prominent among which are the incarnations of Varaha (boar) and Vamana (dwarf). Lord is in the position of conquering the Earth by his one foot and rules the sky with his other foot. The temple also showcases Lord Vishnu as a 'Varaha' or as a boar, riding the Garnda all surrounded by beautiful lotus flowers. The ceiling is endowed with carvings of Vishnu in eternal sleep, Shiva, Brahma and the 8 Dikpals, the presiding deities of the 8 directions.
Cave 3: The third cave is about 70 feet wide a masterwork of 6th century. The delicate creativity and image astuteness are the prominence of the cave showcasing the ancient art. The art depicting ancient dresses, jewelry, hairstyle and the lifestyle of the glorious past will leave one mesmerize. The high alleviation of Vishnu manifested in many forms - Vishnu with a serpent, Vishnu as Man-Lion, Shiva Vishnu and Vishnu as Trivikrama are the other attractions of the cave.
Cave 4: Cave fourth is dedicated to Jain Thirthankaras. They are the Jain caves lying towards the east of cave-3. The main attraction of the cave is the sculpture of Lord Mahavira decking the shrine besides the images of Padmavathi and other Thirthankaras. The cave also leads towards the southern part of Badami Fort, after climbing few steps a cranny is formed between Cave II & III, that leads to the fort where an old gun placed by Tippu Sultan is an attraction in itself.