Badami Sightseeing Guide: Tales Carved In Stone

Badami is a town in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka. It was originally known as ‘Vatapi’ and was the capital of the Badami Chalukyas dynasty from CE 540 to 757. At the height of their power, this dynasty reigned over Karnataka and the majority of Andhra Pradesh. Today, the town is known for its historical monuments carved out of red sandstone. They include many interesting structures and carvings, mostly of Gods, and exhibit the immense creativity and ingenuity of people from the early centuries. Find out more about them with our Badami sightseeing guide.

Must-Visit Places On Your Badami Sightseeing Tour:

1. Badami Cave Temple

2. Agastya Lake

3. Bhutanatha temples

4. Akka Tangi Falls

5. Archaeological Museum

6. Badami Shivalaya

1. Badami Cave Temples

This is a complex of caves inside a cliff. These caves contain Hindu and Jain temples and are one of the oldest examples of grand Indian rock-cut architecture. Yes, the entire complex is carved out of red sandstone! There are a total of 6 caves here. Four of these caves are numbered and have been thoroughly studied. 

The other two caves were discovered much later and they are equally interesting, but not a lot of concrete information is discovered about them. All of the caves feature intricately carved figures on their walls and pillars. There is a different kind of peace in them. The insides of the caves feel disconnected from the world and it is as if time hasn't passed here for several centuries. 

Cave 1: It has sculptures of many Hindu Gods, but the most prominent is of Shiva. He is considered the supreme god in Hinduism and is known to be born on earth in numerous avatars. This cave shows him in his Natraja form performing the Tandava dance. 

Cave 2: It is dedicated to lord Vishnu and his avatars, Vamana and Varaha. Vishnu is also one of the supreme gods. It is believed that this cave is created in the late 6th or in early years of the 7th century. 

Cave 3: This is the biggest cave in this complex and even this one is dedicated to Vishnu and his forms. You will find huge sculptures of Vasudeva, Harihara, Anantasayana, Narasimha, Varaha, and Trivikrama. This is the only cave whose exact date of inauguration was found- 1st November 578! 

Cave 4: This one is all laden with highly respected Jain figures- Mahavira, Parshvanatha and Bahubali. Tirthankaras are also present here. The date of its creation could not be confirmed but studies suggest it could have been built in the 7th, 8th, 11th or 12th century. 

These cave temples along with the temples from the nearby villages were some of the oldest Hindu temples in India. Their beautiful design and architecture influenced many of the temples across the country that were created in the later years.

Also Read: 7 Offbeat Caves To Experience In India

2. Agastya Lake

Next to the cave temples and surrounded by the splendid red hills of Badami, lies Agastya, a huge man-made lake. It is believed that this lake was formed in the 5th century and its water has holy powers which can heal people and also wash away their sins. We don’t know how magical this water really is, but we know that the lake looks enchanting. The famous ancient Bhutanatha group of temples is next to the lake. 

There is a legendary tale that says once there were two demons, Vatapi and Ilvala. Vatapi had the power to become a goat which Iivala would cook and feed to their enemy. While feeding your enemy a delicious meal of mutton doesn’t sound diabolical, Vatapi’s other half of the ploy was to form again as himself inside his enemy's stomach, killing them gruesomely in the process. This is so dark, the writer of Game Of Thrones would love it.

The two demons tried to kill the great powerful sage Agastya, but ingestion and digestion were two of his many superpowers. While Vatapi was inside Agastya’s stomach, he was unable to form again and died. It is believed that Agastya ended the demon in Badami hence the lake is named Agastya lake.

Badami Sightseeing Guide: Tales Carved In Stone 

3. Bhutanatha temples

These are a collection of ancient temples built on the eastern corner of Agastya lake and they are called the Bhutanatha main group or East Bhutanatha group temples. They have been sitting there and providing a spiritual haven to their visitors for centuries. They were constructed all the way back in the 7th century and modifications were made to them later on. Exploring these historical monuments of Badami might feel like you are living the life of Indiana Jones, but don’t worry, there won’t be any booby traps here. But you are surely going to be captivated by the charms of this structure. 

These temples used Dravida architecture which flourished in South India and was built using striking red sandstone that was used for the cave temples. While most of the Bhutanatha temples are dedicated to lord Shiva’s avatar of Bhutanatha, you will also find carvings of Jain gods and Lord Vishnu’s avatars in them. 

A similar set of temples are built on the north back side of the Agasthya lake, these are known as the Mallikarjuna or North Bhutanatha temples. Their creation dates back to the 11th to 12th century and are crafted using the Nagara architecture. Even these temples are dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu.

Also Read: Trekking In Karnataka

4. Akka Tangi Falls

Badami is all about historical monuments and holy sites, so this will feel like an unexpected entry on your itinerary. But it will be a fun experience and it’s not very far from Agastya Lake. The Akka Tangi falls start from the top of a towering red hill and spills into a pond that’s nestled in lush greenery. It’s a sheer delight to watch it and it’s even better to stand underneath it. But you have to be really lucky to enjoy Akka Tangi because this waterfall only occurs during heavy rains. 

Also Read: Top 9 Things To Do In Karnataka

Badami Sightseeing Guide: Tales Carved In Stone

5. Archaeological Museum 

Badami was much more than a holy site made of a rich collection of temples. The Badami Chalukyas dynasty used it as their capital from the year 540 to 757. This is why this region was a treasure trove of ancient items. A lot of these are preserved and exhibited at Badami Archaeological Museum. Their collection includes sculptures, inscriptions, stone tools and more from the period of the 6th century to the 16th century. These items are spread across four galleries and an open-air gallery. 

Some of the historically significant items you will see here are sculptures of the lord Shiva in his multiple forms and sculptures of Lord Vishnu and Lord Ganesh. This museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm every day except Friday. 

6. Badami Shivalaya

There are three Shivalayas (temples dedicated to lord Shiva) near Badami caves. 

Upper Shivalaya: It is built on the tall Northern hill of Badami from where you can see the Agastya lake, the town, and its neighboring areas. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and its walls are carved with scenes from the epic tale of Ramayana. 

Lower Shivalaya: This temple is dedicated to the Lord Ganesha and sadly, majority of this temple was not able to survive the tides of time. Only a towered sanctuary remains now, but it is more than enough to satisfy its visitors.

Malegitti Shivalaya Fort And Temple: Just like every other temple here, this one is also made of red sandstone. But what makes it unique is that it is the oldest surviving structure which is an example of the Chalukya and Dravida style of architecture. This temple features a Shiv linga and also sculptures of Surya, the sun god. The temple sits on a large boulder in Badami’s north part of the town, so you will be treated to an amazing view from here.

Also Read: Karnataka Travel Guide

Badami Sightseeing Guide: Tales Carved In Stone

How To Reach Badami:

Nearest Airport: Hubli Airport (around 99 km away) and Belagavi Airport (around 127 km away)

Nearest Railway station: Badami railway station (5 km away)

Nearest Bus stop: Badami Bus Stop (950 mt away)

Summing Up

Badami is a place stuck in limbo. All of its sculptures, carvings and caves are beautiful beyond expectations. You can’t help but wonder what this place would have looked like during its glorious days. It also shows us how far we have come and how much has changed in all these centuries. Visiting this site is a surreal experience that everyone should have at least once.


How Many Days Do You Need In Badami?

As all the attractions are close to each other one day will be enough to cover Badami. 

Which Is The Best Time To Visit Badami?

October to March, because the temperature will be on the colder side and your trip will be more comfortable. The rainy season is alright too, but it could create some issues. Avoid making this trip during summer as the heat might be too much to handle. 

Who Is The First King Of Badami?

The first sovereign king of Badami was Pulakeshin I. He was from the Chalukya dynasty and his reign lasted from the year 540 to 567.

What Can You Buy In Badami?

It is a great place to shop for handicrafts made from sandalwood and rosewood.

Is Hampi And Badami Same?

They are not the same. Hampi is in the Vijayanagara district and Badami is in the Bagalkot district. You will have to travel 144 km from Badami to reach Hampi.

Which God Is There In Badami?

Most of the temples in Badami are dedicated to Lord Shiva. But you will also find temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu and one temple of Ganesh. Some of the temples also have sculptures of Jain deities. 

What Are The Most Popular Hotels In Badami?

Krishna Heritage, Clarks Inn Badami and Hotel Badami Court are some of the popular hotels in Badami.