Ajanta and Ellora

Maharashtra is home to a number of Buddhist caves that not only illustrate the quintessence of cave architecture but also reveal a captivating history. Their finest examples are Ajanta and Ellora caves which are found in Aurangabad city of the state. Ajanta caves offer a set of 32 caves to explore and Ellora trigger curiosity with its cluster of 34 caves. Both are closely located and are a testament to Buddhist perfection in architecture.

Adorned with aesthetic artistry such as immaculate incised painting, inscriptions, sculptures and numerous in-house temples, these are proof of the craftsmanship in the period with no technological advancement. Although present in a dilapidated condition, their intact perfection standing strong against the power of nature and time is worth a visit.

Ajanta and Ellora

Ajanta Caves

Ajanta Caves

Ajanta caves are a group of 32 Buddhist caves listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The caves are located on the rocky cliff lying on the U-shaped gorge on the small river Waghur, in the Deccan plateau. These encapsulate 'chaityas', Buddhist shrine housing stupa and 'viharas', a Sanskrit and Pali term for a Buddhist monastery.

Notice that the caves are numbered according to the time period when they were excavated. Their division is done in two phases - the early Buddhist Caves belonging to 2nd century BCE to 1st century CE and the Mahayana caves dating to 5th century CE. A walk through dim-lit caves beckons to representations of Jataka tales and the life incidences of Lord Buddha. Admire the astonishingly big rock-cut sculptures especially the 29 feet tall Buddha sculpture in Mahaparinirvana cave. Some parts of the monuments are well-preserved while some seem to lose the battle to time being covered with carbon or wearing out.

Ellora Caves

Ellora Caves

Ellora Cave is one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes of the World. It features a set of 34 caves with 12 – Buddhist, 17 – Hindu and 5 – Jain caves dating between 600-1000 CE period. These 1,500 year-old temples are built on the basalt rocks of the Western Ghats in Aurangabad. The Hindu and Buddhist caves were built by Hindu dynasties (like Rashtrakuta dynasty) and Jain Caves by Yadava dynasty. Of all 34 caves, Cave no. 16 will draw your attention with its huge ‘Kailasa Temple’, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Situated in front of the main entrance, Kailasa temple reveals traces of Pallava and Chalukya styles. The finely carved cave temples are counted among the unmatchable architectural creations from the ancient period.

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