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Author: Shilakantha Pattara
Place: Badami, Aihole
In this article, author draws our attention to mural paintings in Raavana Phadi cave in Aihole. He explains in detail, a fighting scene depicted in the mural. A visitor to the cave can easily miss this mural work in the ceiling as the magnificent sculpture of dancing Nataraja draws all the attention which is the main attraction here.
One can find an inscription ‘SriRanavi’ written in 7th century script near the entrance of Nataraja cave. Author says the fifth missing letter could be ‘Kra’ and the word could be read as RanaVikra which was the title of Polekeshi I where as king Mangalesha had the title ‘Rana Vikrantha’. And taking into account the formation of Raavana Phadi cave which the experts have dated to 550 AD, the author dates mural art work near to 550AD. He also suggests that the original name of ‘RaavanaPhadi’ must have been RanaVikramana Phadi->Rana Veerana Phadi->Raavana Phadi.
Author also has explained another beautiful rock painting of a lady depicted with a lotus in her hand that he discovered near Mulegitti Shivalaya of Badami.
It is interesting to note that the above mural painting and the one discovered by Dr A. Sundar near a rock shelter towards north of Polekeshi Kote of Badami, are said to be the earliest coloured mural works found in Karnataka.