Facade and Entrance of Cave – 3
As the name suggests, Cave – 3 is third of the four rock-cut caves carved out of a red sandstone hill near Badami, Karnataka, India. Unlike the other three caves, there is an inscription detailing the exact date of its completion. According to this inscription, Chalukya Mangalesha, a stepbrother of King Kirthivarma I of Chalukya dynasty, completed it in 578 CE and donated the village of Lanjisvara (present-day Nadikesvara) to this temple.
Area-wise, Cave – 3 is bigger than the other three caves. Compared to them, it has a broader facade and a larger courtyard with a prakara (a protective wall) enveloping it.
The temple in Cave – 3 is dedicated to Vishnu and has reliefs related to Vishnu, his avatars, and legends narrated in Puranas. Like the other three caves, it is a mantapa style temple with the following three parts:
1. Mukhamantapa (Verandah or Porch) – The flight of steps leads to the mukhamantapa. It is like an open veranda with six pillars in front of the temple. There are three life-size sculptural reliefs on the walls of each end. The left-side reliefs depict Vamanavatara, Narasimhavatara, and Harihara and the right side wall depict Astabhuja Vishnu (8-armed Visnu), Vishnu seated on Ananta and Varahavatara. The ceiling of the mukhamantapa has bas-reliefs of Vishnu, Brahma, Indra, Varuna, and Yama.
2. Sabhamantapa (Main Hall) – This is a large hall flanked on each side by two isles. The rectangular space on the ceiling is divided into 9 frames, each carved with sculptural relief. The relief of Brahma is in the center, Kartikeya is in the south, Varuna is in the west, Indra is in the east, and Kubera is in the north.
3. Garbhagriha (Sanctum Santorum) – The garbhagriha is a small room carved out of the back wall. The principal idol is missing, but experts believe that a statue of Maha Vishnu once stood in the garbhagriha.
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