Badami (Lat. 16° 55’ N, Long. 75° 48’ E) is situated 40 km south–east of Bagalkot, 132 km south of Bijapur and about 110 km north-west of Dharwad. Badami on the Gadge–Sholapur meter gauge, is the nearest railway station and Hyderabad is the nearest airport. A number of buses ply from Dharwad, Gadge, Bijapur and Bagalkot connecting Badami.
Badami was the capital of the early Chalukyas of Badami, who ruled from this place during 6th–8th century AD. The place is known with ancient names Vatapi, Vatapiadhistana and Badavi. Even during the succeeding centuries, right up to the beginning of 19th century, it was an important politically strategic place forming part of the dominions of many later dynasties. A number of religious and defense structures were built during these periods at Badami. Beautifully excavated rock caves of Bramhanical, Buddhist and Jaina affinity with massive sculptures, structural temples of Dravida vimana type illustrating different stages of experimentations all set around Agasthya Theertha tank with in the scenic beauty of sand stone formations, make this place a unique tourist destination.
The museum is located at the foothills of the northern hill containing the northern fort and near the famous Pallava Narasimhavarmman’s inscription. It was established in 1979, as a sculpture shed to collect and preserve explored materials, sculptures, inscriptions, architectural members scattered in and around Badami. Subsequently it was converted into a full fledged site museum in the year 1982.
The museum mainly comprises of pre-historic stone implements and sculptures, architectural members, inscriptions, hero stones etc. datable from 6th to 16th century AD.
The museum has four galleries, an open gallery in the veranda and an open air gallery in front. The exhibits chiefly comprise of sculptures of Siva in different forms, Ganapati, forms of Vishnu, panel narrating Bhagavata scenes, Lajjagauri, etc. One of the galleries has a scaled model of a near by pre-historic rock shelter (Shidlaphadi cave) with wall show cases and translides displaying stone artifacts, pre-historic art and their activities. In the open veranda and open air gallery, hero stones, inscriptions, carved architectural members and pair of impressive dwara-palaka figures are exhibited on pedestals. In a new gallery, epigraphy and architecture exhibits are being organized.
The master pieces in the collection include, Lajja Gouri, Makara Torana carved on both the sides, narrative panel depicting Bhagavata, animal figurines like lion, elephants, Kalarimurthy, Tripurantaka Siva and Bhairavi.