Documenting history: The Archaeological Survey of India founded the Badami museum in 1976. Photos by the authorBadami museum: Home to rare exhibits

It has a collection of artefacts from prehistoric to recent times found in Badami and nearby villages. Statues/idols of gods and goddesses belonging to 8th to 16th century AD are nicely arranged. The prominent among which are Agni, Durga, Ganesha, Mother Goddess, Naga couple, Naga Deva, Shiva, Surya, and Virabhadra. The prominence given to Saptamatrikas of the sixth-seventh century AD indicates respect to mother deities.

Then there are images of animals like elephants and lion found during the excavations. A few sculptures indicate the high quality of workmanship – panel depicting scenes from Krishna’s life, ornate Makara Torana, and perforated windows. These belong to the rule of Kalyan Chalukyas in the 11-12 century AD veeragallu (hero stone) of the 13-14th century AD is in honour of a slain warrior.

The museum has a unique collection of inscriptions, the Badami inscriptions, dating to 5-18th century AD, that contains names of architects, sculptors, and artisans associated with construction activities. A surprise is the inclusion of names of visitors too. A panel of inscription is labelled ‘Kappe-Arabhatta’ inscription belonging to the seventh century AD.

Copy of paintings of rock-cut cave number 3 of 575 A.D. is interesting. There is a pillar inscription, which indicates it was done during the rule of Kirtivarman II in 754 AD. An exhibit that raises the curiosity of a visitor is the miniature scaled version of Sidilaphadi Cave, which is a huge natural stone bridge on a hill five km from Badami. Beneath the vast natural cave were discovered signs of human habitation with a few paintings on rocks executed in white and red ochre and tools like hand axes used in prehistoric times.

‘Sidilu’ means thunderbolt, which could be one of the natural phenomena for the formation of this unique stone bridge. This prehistoric site has a commanding view of the fertile Malaprabha Valley.

Specimens of steel implements like clamps, hammers, wedges and chisels used at the quarry site and temple construction of Pattadakal have been found on a quarry site near Badami. A few pottery samples exhibited in the museum give an idea of the highly developed society of an ancient time. Some exhibits are located in the open in front of the museum building. Photography is not allowed inside. A small entry fee is charged. It is open from 10 am to 5 pm. Friday is a holiday. It is within walking distance of the town.

One could hire a taxi/auto-rickshaw to reach the entrance to the museum next to the Badami Fort entrance.