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Varaha Vishnu; Harihara, Cave III, Badami

Varaha Vishnu; Harihara, Cave III, Badami

Artist: Indian draftsman

Medium: Pen and ink on paper

Date: 1853

Shelfmark: WD1596

Item number: 21

Length: 71

Width: 57

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Drawing

Pen-and-ink drawing of sculptures of Varaha and Harihara from Cave III, Badami, by an Indian draftsman, dated 1853.

The figure to the left in this drawing represents Varaha, the Boar incarnation of Vishnu, carved inside the porch of Cave III at Badami. Vishnu assumed this shape when the demon Hiranyaksha pushed the earth into the cosmic ocean. Vishnu killed the demon and then plunged into the ocean and brought the earth up on his tusks.

The figure to the right in the drawing is Harihara, the combined form of Shiva and Vishnu. The Shiva side is indicated by the presence of the battleaxe with a snake; the Vishnu side is indicated by a conch. His headdress consists of matted hair with a crescent on it while the other half is a jewelled crown.

Badami, formerly known as Vatapi, was the capital of the Early Chalukya rulers in the sixth - eigth centuries. The town is situated between two rocky hills of red sandstone that surround an artificial lake. There are two later forts that overlook the town. Around the south fort there are four rock-cut shrines while structural temples dominate the site on the opposite north fort. Cave III was excavated during the reign of the Early Chalukya ruler Pulakeshin I in 578. It is the finest of the caves at Badami and the most elaborately ornate.

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