Music and dance in Chalukya sculptures

The Chalukyas who ruled from the 6th to the 8th centuries AD were, like the Pallavas and the Pandyas of the Tamil country, great patrons of the fine arts, especially music and dance. At the same time, the Chalukya rulers were also interested in experimenting in temple art and architecture. Both these facets are clearly reflected in the sculptures adorning the walls of the temples they built in Karnataka.

The sleepy town of Badami (Bagalkot district, Karnataka) was once the famous bustling Chalukyan capital, then called Vatapi. Abounding in sandstone, Badami has as many as four cave-temples, created by the architects and sculptors of the 6th century AD. Of these, Cave One, dedicated to Siva has, near the entrance, an excellent stone sculpture of this deity’s manifestation as Nataraja. Sixteen-armed and 1.5 metres in height, this carving captures your attention. Next to Nataraja is a small dancing image of Ganesa as also a bhakta playing a vertical drum and Nandi standing by the side. Some of the cave temples also have rows of Sivagana-s – fat and short, dancing joyously.