Badami • Karnataka: Cave No.4: - Mirror of Jain Art and Religion

Cave No. 4 in Badami, India, is the last of the site's four main caves, and it is the only one dedicated exclusively to Jainism. Dug at the end of the 6th century or the beginning of the 7th century AD, during the Chalukya dynasty, it is perched at the top of a staircase of nearly 60 steps from cave N°3.

The architecture of Cave No. 4 is more modest compared to other Badami caves, but it is notable for its fine carvings and bas-reliefs which illustrate Jain teachings. Among these are depictions of the tirthankara Parshvanatha with a seven-headed serpent above his head, and the tirthankara Mahavira in a meditative posture.

The cave also contains carvings of other Jain deities and figures of yakshis (female nature spirits). It is a testimony to the ancient mixture of cultures and religions in India, and is an important site for understanding the history and development of Jainism.

Badami • Cave No.4:: Jain bas-reliefs, Tirthankara ( India, Karnataka )

Badami • Cave No.4:: Jain bas-reliefs, Tirthankara

Badami • Cave No.4:: Jain bas-reliefs, Tirthankara ( India, Karnataka )

Badami • Cave No.4:: Jain bas-reliefs, Tirthankara

Badami • Cave No.4:: Jain bas-reliefs, Tirthankara ( India, Karnataka )

Badami • Cave No.4:: Jain bas-reliefs, Tirthankara

The gripping story of Cave No. 4 in Badami, India 

 

The city of Badami, located in the state of Karnataka in India, is renowned for its magnificent caves cut in red sandstone. Of the four main caves, Cave No. 4 is the last in terms of chronology and is dedicated to Jainism, a religion that has also left an indelible mark on Indian history. This article invites you to discover the history, architectural features and cultural significance of Badami Cave No. 4. 

 

I. History and context 

 

The Badami Caves were dug between the 6th and 7th centuries AD, under the Chalukya dynasty. Cave No. 4 was carved towards the end of the 6th century or the beginning of the 7th century, testifying to the peaceful coexistence of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism at that time. This cave illustrates the close link between Chalukya architecture and sculpture and Jainism. 

 

II. Architecture and layout 

 

Cave No. 4 is a Jain cave characterized by an architecture similar to that of the other Badami caves. It is accessible by a staircase carved into the rock and includes a portico adorned with sculpted columns. The interior of the cave is made up of a rectangular hall with a shrine dedicated to Mahavira, the 24th and last Tirthankara (spiritual guide) of Jainism. 

 

III. Sculptures and frescoes 

 

Cave No. 4 is rich in sculptures representing deities and important figures of Jainism. Among the most notable sculptures is that of Mahavira seated on a lion throne and surrounded by his followers. Other carvings depict Tirthankaras and celestial figures, as well as scenes from Jain mythology. 

 

Although the frescoes of Cave No. 4 are less present than in the other Badami caves, they nevertheless illustrate episodes from the life of Mahavira and other Tirthankaras, offering a glimpse of the richness of Jain iconography. 

 

IV. Cultural and religious significance 

 

Badami Cave No. 4 is a valuable testimony to Jain culture and religion during the Chalukya period. The carvings and frescoes in the cave illustrate the diversity of beliefs and artistic traditions of ancient India. Cave No. 4 also highlights the importance of Jainism in Indian history and highlights the peaceful coexistence of different religions at that time. 

 

V. Preservation and presentation 

 

Badami Cave No. 4, like the other caves on the site, is protected by the Indian authorities as a historical and cultural monument. The Badami site is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List, which testifies to its importance and outstanding universal value. 

 

Preservation and restoration efforts are regularly undertaken to maintain the integrity of the sculptures and frescoes in Cave No. 4, as well as the other caves on the site. Protective measures, such as protective barriers and surveillance devices, are also in place to prevent damage and vandalism. 

 

In addition, the enhancement of the site of Badami and Cave No. 4 requires the promotion of cultural tourism and public awareness of the history and importance of these caves. Guides and information boards are available to help visitors better understand and appreciate the artistic and architectural treasures of Cave No. 4 and other Badami caves. 

 

Conclusion 

 

Badami Cave No. 4 offers a fascinating insight into Jain history, art and religion during the Chalukya period. The carvings and frescoes in the cave bear witness to the diversity and richness of ancient Indian culture and illustrate the harmonious coexistence of different religions at that time. Through preservation and enhancement efforts, the Badami Caves continue to fascinate and inspire visitors from around the world.

Architectural features

Location and Access 

 

Cave No. 4 is located at the top of a series of stairs carved into the red sandstone, above the three other Badami caves. This elevated location offers panoramic views of the ancient city of Badami and the surrounding landscapes. 

 

Structure and Plan 

 

The cave is relatively smaller and more modest in comparison to the other caves in the site. However, its architecture is unique, demonstrating a mixture of architectural styles from the time of the Chalukyas. The cave is composed of a porch, a main hall and a sanctuary. 

 

The facade 

 

The facade of Cave No. 4 is marked by a series of well-proportioned columns and pilasters, carved with ornamental motifs and Jain deities. The finesse of these sculptures highlights the talent of the artisans of the Chalukya period. 

 

Interior 

 

Inside the cave, the carvings are delicately detailed, emphasizing the importance of the Jain religion during the time of the Chalukyas. The shrine houses a statue of the tirthankara Mahavira in a meditative posture, while other figures of tirthankaras are carved on the walls of the cave. 

 

The Sculptures 

 

The carvings in Cave No. 4 are particularly notable for their delicacy and complexity. The statue of Parshvanatha, one of the tirthankaras, is one of the most impressive, with a seven-headed cobra carved above his head. Other bas-reliefs illustrate episodes from the life of tirthankaras, testifying to the deep influence of Jain philosophy. 

 

The conversation 

 

Cave No. 4, like the other Badami caves, is a monument protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. Despite its age and the challenges posed by erosion, the cave has been well preserved, offering visitors a glimpse into the history and culture of the Chalukya civilization.

Monument profile
Cave No.4:
Monument category: Rock Sanctuary
Monument family: Rock Sanctuary and Monumental Bas-reliefs
Monument genre: Religious
Cultural heritage: Jain
Geographic location: Badami • Karnataka • India
Construction period: 6th century AD

• Links to •

• Dynasties that contributed to the construction of the monument •


• List of videos about Badami on this site •

Badami, former capital of the Chalukyas, Karnataka • India

• References •