Karnataka is a land of churches, temples, beaches, caves, and lots of other interesting things. This is a state that attracts adventurers, nature lovers, photographers, spirituality-seekers, honeymoon couples, families, and lone travelers. 

Famous Caves of Karnataka

Badami Caves

Badami caves are actually a complex of cave temples in Badami town of Bagalkot district in northern Karnataka. They exemplify Indian rock-cut architecture, particularly Badami Chalukya architecture pioneered in the 6th century.

There are four caves, carved on a hill cliff from soft Badami sandstone in the 6th and the 7th centuries. Visitors find a verandah at the threshold of cave. It features brackets and stone columns. This is a unique feature of Badami caves. It leads visitors to a columned Mandapa or main hall and to a small shrine, which is located deep in the cave and is square in shape.

Badami Cave temples are connected by a stepped path featuring intermediate terraces. They provide a breath taking view of Badami town and lake.

Architecture of Badami Cave temples depicts Dravidian and Nagara style. Visitors can find inscriptions in the temples written in old Kannada script. Badami also has a 5th cave temple, which is natural made. This is a Buddhist temple. Visitors must kneel down on all fours to enter this natural cave.

Nellitheertha Cave

Nellitheertha Cave, dating back to 1487, is in Nellitheertha. The cave is 200 meters long with a big entrance. However, as tourists march ahead, they need to crawl on knees to reach the interiors. Visitors to this cave report experiencing holiness and spirituality.

Nellitheertha Cave is closed for 6 months from October to April every year. Legend says that Sage Jabali performed penance here to appease Lord Durga Parameshwari. He wanted the Lord to slay demon Arunsura. The Lord was pleased by the sage’s penance and killed the demon at Kateel, which is now a famous temple town. It is located near the cave.

Drops of water constantly drip inside the cave. The drops are believed to be in the shape of Gooseberries or Amla. The drops have formed a lake in the cave. This is a holy lake where pilgrims take a holy bath. A mesmerizing feature here is the natural Shiva Lingam. Visitors are greeted with lots of animals and exotic wildlife. Snakes, porcupines, scorpions, and bats are common here. Tourists are advised to maintain silence in the cave and not meddle with flora and fauna.

Nellitheertha Cave is one of the sacred spots of Karnataka. Swarms of tourists come here each year. Words “Nelli” means “Amla” and “Theertha” means “Holy Water.” The cave is open only for 6 months. The rest of the 6 months are for Rishis and Gods, who are believed to visit the cave to perform their activities. This period serves as rejuvenation time for the cave’s wildlife. They stay undisturbed.

The mud of Nellitheertha cave is believed to possess healing powers. Visitors carry mud back to their homes and keep them for years.

Krishnapur Bat Caves

Krishnapur is a small village in the interiors of Karnataka. The Bat caves are a 25-minute trekking distance from here. Visitors can also drive through the rough jungle terrain. The cave has thousands of bats.

Bat cave at Talevadi is unique in the sense that it houses a rare Wroughton’s Free-Tailed Bat. This is the only place in the world where visitors can sight this bat species.

Gavipuram Cave

Gavipuram Cave temple or Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple, in Bangalore, exemplifies Indian rock-cut architecture. The temple is known for its mysterious stone discs built in the forecourt. The interesting thing to note is their positioning, which lets sunshine fall on the shrine only at certain times in the year.

The ancient temple is carved out of monolithic rock and is believed to be of the 9th century. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The main shrine features Shiva Lingam, while the front of the temple features sculpture of Nandi. The temple also has a rare idol of the God of Fire, Agni.

Visitors can also find idol of Agnimurthi, which features two heads, three legs, and seven hands. It is believed that worshipping this deity cures all eye disorders. The cave temple is visited by thousands of devotees on Makar Sakranti.

This is a special day, as sunshine passes between Nandi’s horns and illuminates the Shiva Lingam continuously for one hour. The sight is amazing. It shows the impeccable knowledge of astronomy and architecture of the ancient sculptors. Sunshine falls on the Shiva Lingam two times every year – in late afternoons from January 13 to 16 and from November 26 to December 2.

The temple shrine comes under the category of protected monuments under the Archaeological sites and Remains Act 1961 and the Karnataka Ancient and Historical Monuments.

Karnataka has more such caves. Each tells a story and has something stunning to offer to visitors. For instance, the Kavala Caves, located 25 km from Dandeli, are made of limestone. They are believed to have existed since prehistoric times. Visitors need candles or torch inside the cave, which was earlier home to bats and snakes.


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