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Cave Temples of Badami: Cave – 4


Cave -4 is one of the four rock-cut cave temples carved out of a red sandstone hill near Badami in Karnataka, India. As the name suggests, it is the fourth cave from the main entrance where the visitors enter the cave complex.

Check the following pages for a detailed explanation of the other three caves:

Cave – 1ShivaNataraja, Dwarapala, Ardhanarishvara, Harihara
Cave – 2VishnuVarahavatara, Vamanavatara
Cave – 3Maha VishnuMaha Vishnu, Ashtabhuja Vishnu, Varahavatara, Vamanavatara, Narasimhavatara

Cave – 4: A Jain cave temple dedicated to Mahavira

Facade and Entrance

Cave – 4 is the of the four rock-cut caves. Historians believe that it was built in the early 7th century CE.

Unlike the other three caves, which are Hindu temples, Cave – 4 is a Jain temple and is a testament to the peaceful co-existence of different religions in ancient India.

Just like the other three caves, the garbhagriha is at the back of the cave. There are three halls in front of the garbhagriha, which are: 1. Antarala (ante-chamber) 2. Sabhamantapa (main hall) 3. Mukhamantapa (verandah).

Ground Plan of Badami Cave – 4

The houses a sculpture believed to be of Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara, seated on a lion throne. The sculptural reliefs of Tirthankaras and the other Jain figures adorn the pillars and sidewalls of the halls.

The only access to this cave is through a flight of steps from Cave – 3. However, there was a path to this temple from the east side when it was built.

Garbhagriha – Mahavira

The image shows a sculptural relief of a Tirthankara, most-likely Mahavira, seated majestically on a lion throne carved on the back wall of the .

Sculptural relief of 24th Tirthankara – Mahavira in the Garbhagriha

Mahavira is sitting under a chaitya (holy tree) with the aryankasana posture (lotus-like pose with upward-facing palms placed on top of each other). He has a (circle of light or halo) around his head and a (three umbrellas stacked one above the other) above the . Flanking him are two (male bearers), and above them are two Vidyadhara couples performing (offering a deluge of flowers).

Note: Tirtha means a ford or shallow crossing of a river or stream. Tirthankara means ford maker. Tirthankara is an extraordinary person who understood the true meaning of Samsara (continuous cycle of life, death, and rebirth) and obtained Kevala Jnana (Omniscience). He is a teacher who builds a ford for others (i.e., guides) to follow the path from samsara to Moksha (liberation from S).

Adinatha – The first Tirthankara

First Tirthankara – Rishabhanatha (Adinatha)

The image shows a life-size sculptural relief depicting Adinatha (also known as Rishabhanatha), the first of the 24 Tirthankaras of Jainism, carved on the left sidewall of the . As you can see, he is flanked by 12 Tirthankaras on either side.

Adinatha is a (person with no clothes) and is standing with the Kayotsarga pose, which means giving up body movements and comfort. He has long hair flowing on his shoulder.

Note: The Adinatha iconography has locks of hair on his shoulder and is one of the ways to identify his sculptures.


The image shows a life-size sculptural relief depicting Parshvanatha, the 23rd Tirthankara of Jainism, carved on the interior walls of Cave – 4.

23rd Tirthankara – Parshvanatha

Parshvanatha is the successor of Neminatha and the predecessor of Mahavira, the most well-known and final Tirthankara. Historians believe that both Mahavira and Parshvanatha were historical figures.

Born in the holy city of Varanasi, Parshvanatha lived around 877 BCE and attained Moksha on Mount Summeta in the present-day Madhuban in the state of Jharkhand, India.

In this relief, Parshvanatha is depicted as a (person with no clothes) with the Kayotsarga posture, i.e., meditating while standing. Notice the beautifully carved five-headed naga above his head. This is one of the features that identify Parshvanatha.



The image shows a life-size sculptural relief depicting Bahubali carved on the interior walls of Cave – 4.

Bahubali is one of the 100 sons of Adinatha (Rishabhanatha). Bharata was the eldest, but Bahubali challenged him for the throne.

Although Bahubali defeated his brother in three non-violent games, he relinquished everything in disgust and lived like an ascetic. He meditated by standing up naked for 12 years to attain Moksha. Because he was motionless, vines grew on him, which is the reason why the standard iconography of Bahubali shows him standing naked with his body encircled by vines.


The image shows a relief depicting a pious Jain nun called Jakkave who attained Moksha through Sallekhana sitting besides Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara.

Note: Sallekhana is a religious practice in Jainism to reduce human passions by rigorously following certain vows

This relief is carved on the right sidewall and is visible as you enter the cave.

Related Pages
Badami Cave – 1, Badami Cave – 2, Badami Cave – 3, Durga Temple at Aihole
Somanathapura Keshava Temple
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Kappe Chennigaraya Shrine
Hampi Virupaksha Temple Murals

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