Mithuna couples on pillar brackets, Cave III, Badami, (above), Cave II, Badami (below)
Artist: Indian draftsman
Medium: Pen and ink on paper
Pen-and-ink and wash drawing of the amorous couples (mithuna) carved on the pillar brackets of Cave III, Badami, (above) and Cave II, Badami (below), by an Indian draftsman, dated 1853.
Badami, formerly known as Vatapi, was the capital of the Early Chalukya rulers in the sixth - eighth 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. 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 shows a very elaborate ornamentation. The columns shafts are ornate with sculpted medallions containing amorous couples, jewel and garland motifs. The top drawing depicts the brackets of the columns of the outer row which are fashioned as embracing couples (mithuna) or maidens beneath trees. Cave II, seen below in the drawing, is dedicated to Vishnu and was excavated at the end of the sixth century. It consists of a long outer porch, a large columned hall (mandapa), and the square sanctuary excavated into the rear wall. The external wall of the cave is decorated with a frieze of dwarves called ganas. The column shafts have sculpted medallions containing figures and jewel and garland motifs. Large panels depicting Varaha and Trivikrama are sculpted in high relief inside the porch.