Two words: Bumpmap and displacement (as used on my image).
(I know, I went a bit overboard for a forum example… But it’s nice, isn’t it?)
Displacement requires high-poly meshes. (And that explain why my sphere is a bit rough around the edges. Not enough video memory to set the subsurf modifer beyond level 4.) What you see in the middle of the “temple” is a simple sphere with a Displace modifer using the Blender logo to push and pull the surface. The modifier is a bit demanding, it wants a vertex group and an UV map (The reason for the UV map is a bit obscure to me.) but the result can be really powerful… even insane if you want.
Using a bump map is a much lighter process but the effect is weak and you can see it’s a trick if you look in a wrong angle. This is only a material setting which is really easy to achieve… At least in Cycles, where you basically only need to plug a texture in the Displacement input. In BI, it’s a bit more convoluted.
Any way, here is the file used to render the image: Displace.blend (254 KB)
I used Cycles and the PNG logo is packed in the blend file. (Some older versions of Blender have problems with that.) If you want to use BI, you just need to redo the materials. The rest needs no change. You can replace the logo with any square image it will just work.