Murali Vijay (153) cracked his second successive century before Bhuvneshwar Kumar quickly snapped up three Australian wickets to raise hopes of an Indian victory in the third cricket Test which seemed headed for an exciting finish.
After conceding a 91-run first innings lead, the visitors were struggling at 75 for three at stumps, on the penultimate day with Bhuvneshwar producing a brilliant spell to remove openers David Warner (2), Ed Cowan (8) and Steven Smith (5), who was promoted ahead of injured captain Michael Clarke.
At stumps, Phillip Hughes (53 batting) is fighting hard in company of nightwatchman Nathan Lyon (4).
The stage is now set for an engrossing fifth day's play on a deteriorating track as India will try to dismissing seven remaining Aussie batsmen and keep the target within manageable limit with 98 overs permissible.
India lead the series 2-0 after convincing wins in Chennai and Hyderabad, and seemed to be on course to clinch the series despite Peter Siddle's five-for, which helped Australia bowl out the hosts for 499.
Woefully out-of-form prior to this innings, Hughes struck nine fours and a six during his crucial knock.
Bhuvneshwar had Warner caught behind in the first over. He then had Cowan trapped in-front but this time he was a bit lucky as the ball had pitched outside leg and the batsman had made a big stride forward.
There was no doubt as far as his third wicket was concerned as Bhuvneshwar produced a beauty that held its line before knocking over Smith's off-stump.
Resuming on a strong 283 for no loss, India were bundled out for the addition of just 216 runs, as Siddle returned with impressive figures of five for 71.
It was due to Siddle's workmanlike effort that Australia ended the Indian innings within 500 -- the hosts were at one point well on course for posting an even bigger total, thanks to debutant Dhawan's record-breaking knock of 187 and a patient innings by Vijay.
The second new ball did the trick as Siddle and Starc combined to put the brakes on India's scoring as India lost their last seven wickets for only 87 runs. In all, 13 wickets fell on the day.
Vijay's marathon knock came off 317 balls and the Tamil Nadu batsman spent 414 minutes while hitting 19 fours and three sixes. This was the 28-year-old's third Test ton and interestingly, all his centuries have come against Australia.
Comfortably placed at 384 for three at lunch, India were taken by surprise after the break, with Australia staging a remarkable fightback to reduce the hosts to 431 for seven after Siddle had Ravichandran Ashwin caught behind.
Skipper Clarke's decision to take the second new ball seven overs after lunch paid dividends, as Starc had Vijay trapped with one that swung in with the batsmen not offering a stroke.
The left-arm pacer had India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni with a similar delivery, the swung back sharply and batsman was caught plumb in-front.
Bowling with a scrambled seam, Siddle induced an edge from Ravindra Jadeja to make it 427 for six. The delivery moved away from the left-hander on landing and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin did the rest.
Ashwin followed six runs later, before Virat Kohli along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar arrested the slide helping India score 95 runs in the second session.
Earlier, India resuming on 283 for no loss, lost Dhawan (187) and Cheteshwar Pujara in the opening one hour, along with Tendulkar, who was dismissed at stroke of lunch.
Overnight on 83, Vijay added the 17 runs needed to get to the three-figure mark.
The 27-year-old Dhawan, after his blistering ton was sent back after he could add just two runs to his overnight score of 185. He spent 251 minutes at the crease, faced 174 balls and smashed 33 fours besides hitting two sixes.
The left-handed batsman from Delhi has already broken quite a few records en route to his turbo-charged innings and was in line to rewrite a few more, before off-spinner Nathan Lyon had him caught by Ed Cowan at silly point in only the day's second over.
Next man Pujara was trapped in front by pacer Peter Siddle, who bowled a fairly tight spell.
Vijay meanwhile got to his century with a lofted shot over midwicket off Lyon, his patient knock a stark contrast to the one played by his opening partner.
To get to his hundred, which also is his third against Australia, the 28-year-old Chennai batsman faced 206 balls and spent 276 minutes. He struck 12 boundaries and two sixes.
Watchful to start with, the veteran from Mumbai soon opened up to play some delightful shots on either side of the wicket.
While his first boundary was a heave over midwicket, he was in his element soon as he straight drove Mitchell Starc in his first over -- the ball was racing towards the ropes before the bowler could even complete his follow-through.
Tendulkar then unleashed a cut against the left-arm seamer, and the result was the same. Just before that, he played a masterful cover drive off Lyon, which brought the Sunday crowd to their feet.
India's 350 was up in the 81st over even as Australia skipper Michael Clarke introduced his fourth specialist bowler, Xavier Doherty, but the left-arm spinner could never really trouble the Indians on this bone-dry wicket.
But there was a period when Tendulkar went into a shell managing just two off 28 balls. Vijay, though, looked to accelerate breaking the shackles with a six over long-on off Doherty. Tendulkar too, broke free, driving Moises Henriques trough cover and mid-off.
But he couldn't survive the session as a Smith delivery turned and bounced awkwardly to lead to his dismissal.