Badami Shivalaya

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Upper Shivalaya

Badami Shivalaya is located in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka, India. It was the regal capital of the Badami Chalukyas known as 'vatapi' then, from 540 to 757 AD. It is famous for rock cut architecture and other structural temples. It is located in a ravine at the foot of a rugged, red sandstone outcrop that surrounds Agastya lake. Badami is surrounded in the north and south by forts built in later times, from the ramparts that crown their summits.[1]


The north fort which is on the opposite side of the town is penetrated by deep canyon-like crevices, through which climbs a straight path. The first features to be seen along this path are two freestanding, multi-storeyed mandapas, seemingly unconnected with any temples. They are possibly vestiges of an early ceremonial complexes. Lower Shivalaya stands on a nearby rocky terrace, surveying the houses beneath. At the summit of north fort, upper Shivalaya is sited majestically overlooking the town beneath. Both these were probably erected in the early 7th century, but appear to have partly dismantled mostly by conquering pallava forces; and maybe they have been pillaged for building blocks to strengthen north fort by later occupiers.

The ruinous condition of this monument contrast with the comparatively intact Malegitti Shivalaya, which crowns on an isolated boulder beneath the western flank of the North fort. This temple is also dated to the first half of the 7th century and is of historical interest for its well-preserved cravings.[2]

Lower Shivalaya[edit]

Only the towered sanctuary of the temple does exist today; its outer walls have been dismantled. The sanctuary was originally surrounded by a passageway on three sides, possibly with a mandapa extension to the east which can be predicted by observing the broken roof slabs set into its walls and the stumps of beans with friezes of ganas. The temple’s doorway is framed by bands of lotus ornament. An unusual, elliptical shaped pedestal is seen within which happens to be empty now. The outer walls have flat pilasters but there are no signs of projections or sculptures niche. The roof is an octagon to dome topped by a tiny amalaka finial. It is framed by corner model elements topped by kuta roofs containing miniature nidhis.[3]

Upper Shivalaya[edit]

The outer walls of the temple create a rectangle containing a sanctuary with a passageway on three sides, opens into a columned mandapa on the east, missing all its internal columns. The walls are built on a basement with a central recessed course containing foliate ornament and narrative scenes. On the south face, Ramayana episodes are pictured, like, waking of Kumbhakarna, Rama fighting with forest enemies. Panels on the west face depict the birth and childhood of Lord Krishna, including Krishna sucking Putana’s breasts. Though there are no narratives seen on the north. The walls above have narrow projections by pilasters carried up into the parapet, four on the south and three on the west. The central pilastered projections have panels depicting Krishna lifting Mount Govardhana (south), Narasimha disemboweling his victim (north), etc. These support miniature eaves and kudus, the latter intruding in the kapota eaves. The square tower over the sanctuary has pilastered walls. It is crowned by a large kuta, without finial, the earliest and best preserved example of this type of Dravida styled roof in Early Chalukya architecture.[4]

Malegitti Shivalaya[edit]

This temple is the earliest surviving example of the Dravida style in Early Chalukya architecture. It consists of a sanctuary, without passageway, opening into a triple aisled mandapa. Walls of sanctuary and mandapa have a curved course and a central recessed portion, divided into panels, some filled with gana musicians, dancers and warriors. The mandapa walls have three projections on the north and south, among which the middle one accommodates panels portraying Shiva (south) and Vishnu (north). Each god is accompanied by a pair of diminutive companions. The mandapa walls, beside the porch, have a corner pilastered projection and a single niche containing a swaying dvarapala. The sanctuary and mandapa walls are overhung by continuous kapota eaves on a frieze of ganas. Two recessed moldings support a parapet, with a set of corner kutas and central shalas over the mandapa walls, and a similar, kuta-shala-kuta parapet over the sanctuary walls. There is a tower rising over the sanctuary, above which rises the octagon-to-dome roof, exactly like that of upper Shivalaya, but without amalaka finial. The mandapa interior has a central east-west aisle, defined by raised floor strips linking the free-standing and engaged columns. Two additional columns define a small bay in front of the sanctuary doorway. Transverse beams carried on open-mouthed makara brackets carry the raised and horizontal roof slabs, with vishnu on flying Garuda carved onto the central bay. The sanctuary doorway is framed by jambs, including those with serpent bodies culminating in a flying Garuda over the lintel, with male and female figures beneath at either side. A linga on a pedestal, perhaps replacing a sculpted icon, is seen within the sanctuary.[5]


  1. ^ Michell, George (2014). Temple Architecture and Art of the Early Chalukyas. India : Niyogi Books. p. 37. ISBN 978-93-83098-33-0.
  2. ^ Michell, George (2014). Temple Architecture and Art of the Early Chalukyas. India : Niyogi Books. p. 37. ISBN 978-93-83098-33-0.
  3. ^ Michell, George (2014). Temple Architecture and Art of the Early Chalukyas. India : Niyogi Books. p. 65. ISBN 978-93-83098-33-0
  4. ^ Michell, George (2014). Temple Architecture and Art of the Early Chalukyas. India : Niyogi Books. p. 66. ISBN 978-93-83098-33-0
  5. ^ Michell, George (2014). Temple Architecture and Art of the Early Chalukyas. India : Niyogi Books. p. 71. ISBN 978-93-83098-33-0