Badami Chalukya Architecture - Badami Cave Temples

Badami Cave Temples

Badami cave temples have rock cut halls with three basic features: pillared veranda, columned hall and a sanctum cut out deep into rock.

Early experiments in rock cut halls were attempted in Aihole where they built three cave temples, one each in Vedic, Buddhist and Jaina styles. Later they refined their style and cut out four marvellous cave temples at Badami.

One noteworthy feature of these cave temples is the running frieze of Ganas in various amusing postures caved in relief on each plinth.

The outside verandas of the cave temples are rather plain, but the inner hall contains rich and prolific sculptural symbolism. Art critic Dr. M. Sheshadri wrote of the Chalukya art that they cut rock like Titans but finished like jewellers. Critic Zimmer wrote that the Chalukya cave temples are a fine balance of versatility and restrain.

The finest structural temples are located in Pattadakal. Of the ten temples in Pattadakal, six are in Dravidian style and four in Rekhanagara style. The Virupaksha temple in many ways holds resemblance to the Kailasanatha temple in Kanchipuram which came into existence a few years earlier.

This is a fully inclusive temple, it has a central structure, nandi pavilion in front and has a walled enclosure that is entered by a gateway. The main sanctum has a Pradakshinapatha and mantapa. The mantapa is pillared and has perforated windows (pierced window screens). The external wall surface is divided by pilasters into well-spaced ornamental niches filled with either sculptures or perforated windows. Art critic Percy Brown says about the sculptures that they flow into the architecture in a continuous stream. It is said that the Virupaskha temple is one of those monuments where the spirit of the men who built it, still lives.

Many centuries later, the serene art of the Badami Chalukya reappeared in the pillared architecture of the Vijayanagar Empire. Their caves include finely engraved sculptures of Harihara, Trivikrama, Mahisa Mardhini, Tandavamurthi, Paravasudeva, Nataraja, Varaha, Gomateshvara and others. Plenty of animal and foliage motifs are also included.

Some important sculptors of their time were Gundan Anivaritachari, Revadi Ovajja and Narasobba.

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