Badami caves were built by using sandstone available on the hills in the town. The caves have entrance, a mukha mandapa or veranda, a hall, and a small shrine or grarbha griha. The veranada is supported by a series of columns and brackets. The caves were built on the basis of Nagara and Dravida architecture. There are five caves in Badami out of which four are man-made and fifth is natural. Here is the description of all the five caves.
Cave 1 has the height of about 18m and can be entered through a staircase. Each step is carved with an attendant of Lord Shiva in different postures. There is a veranda having the dimensions of 21m x 20m and four columns each having an image of Lord Shiva in different dancing positions. The doorkeepers of the cave measure 1.879 feet.
There is an image of Lord Shiva with eighteen hands showing different gestures. Some of them have coiled snakes while some hold drums, axe, and trident. The image of his son Ganesh and Nandi bull are created by his side. One wall of the cave has the image of Goddess Durga who is killing Mahishasura.
The images of Lord Ganesh Kartikeya, Goddesses Lakshmi and Parvati can also be seen on the walls. Along with these, images of Harihara and Ardhanarishwara are also there. Harihara is the image of half Shiva and half Vishnu and its height is 2.36m. Ardhanarishwara is the combined image of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The images of all the gods and goddesses have been decorated with birds and animals surrounding them.
Cave 2 was built in 6th century AD and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The cave can be reached through a staircase of 64 steps. At the entrance, there is a veranda having four pillars. The cave has a figure of Lord Vishnu in the form of Trivikrama. Another figure of Lord Vishnu is in the form of Varaha saving Mother Earth.
Avatars of Lord Krishna and texts from the Puranas can also be found in the cave. Two armed guards can be found at the entrance of the cave having flowers in their hands. The ceiling of the cave has a wheel which has sixteen fish spokes. Along with this, there are swasikas and flying couples which can also be found on the ceiling.
There is a hall in the cave having the dimensions of 10.16m x 7.188m x 3.45m. The hall has eight pillars in square shape and are arranged in two rows. The cave was built in Deccan style between 6th and 7th century.
Cave 3 is also dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is the largest cave among the five caves. There are many images in the cave which include Trivikrama, Anantasayana, Paravasudeva, Bhuvaraha, Harihara and Narsimha. Cave 3 can be reached through a staircase of 60 steps. There is a veranda in the cave which measures 21m x 20m.
The veranda is separated from a hall by four carved pillars. There are six pillars that support the cave and each measures 0.23m2. The cave also has columns, pilaster, and brackets and each bracket is carved with male and female mythological human figures.
The paintings on the ceiling of the cave have faded. The image of Lord Brahma, wedding of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are also there. Along with these, different postures of Lord Vishnu can also be seen in the cave.
Cave 4 is dedicated to the Tirthankaras of Jainism. The entrance of the cave has a veranda having five bays with square-shaped four columns. There is a hall after crossing the veranda having four pillars out of which two are standalone and two are joined. The hall leads to the sanctuary which is 7.8m wide and 1.8m deep.
There is a figure of Lord Mahavira siting on a lion throne and surrounded by attendants. The walls have the figure of Parshvanath and the height of the figure is 2.3m. The head of the deity is decorated with a cobra having many heads. Images of Indrabhuti Gautama and Bahubali are also present there.
Four snakes cover Indrabhuti Gautama and legs of Bahubali are surrounded with snakes. Brahmi and Sundari, daughters of Bahubali, are also sitting with him. The sanctuary in the cave has an image of Lord Mahavira.
Cave 5 is a natural cave which is very small. There is a statue but nobody knows to which deity the statue belongs. Some say that it belongs to Lord Vishnu and other say that it belongs to Buddha. It is also said that the statue belongs to some Jain deity. The statue sits on a throne and image of a tree, an elephant and a lion is there besides the statue.