Ajanta & Ellora Caves

Ajanta Caves

Ajanta caves are 29 rock-cut cave monuments dating from the 2nd century BCE. The caves contain Buddhist religious art (which depicts Jataka tales) as well as murals and paintings and sculptures reminiscent of Sigiriya paintings in Sri Lanka. The caves were constructed in two phases, which began around 200 BCE, the second group of caves was built around 600 CE. Since 1983, the Ajanta Caves have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The caves are located just outside the village of Ajinṭhā, near Jalgaon, in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Caves are only about 59 kilometers from Jalgaon Railway station (on Delhi – Mumbai, Rail line of the Central railways, India); and 104 kilometers from Aurangabad (From Ellora Caves 100 Kilometers).

The first cave was built on the eastern end of the horse-shoe shaped scarp. According to Spink, it is one of the latest caves that has begun on the site and is brought to near completion in the Vakataka stage. Although there is no epigraphic evidence, it has been proposed that the Vākāţaka king Harisena may have been the benefactor of this better-preserved cave. One of the main reasons for this is that Harisena was not initially involved in providing protection to Ajanta.

This cave is one of the most elaborate carvings on its front with relief sculptures on entablature and ridges. There are scenes carved from the life of the Buddha as well as several decorative motifs. A two pillared portico, visible in the 19th-century photographs, has since perished. In the cave, there are cells in front of the vestibule with pillars on both sides. These have a high plinth level. There is a porch with ordinary cells at both ends of the cave. The absence of objectionable vestibules on the ends suggest that the porch was not excavated in Ajanta’s latest phase when the vicious vestibules became a necessity and ideal. Most areas of the porch were once covered with mural paintings, many of which remained fragments. There are three doorways: a central doorway and two side doorways. In order to illuminate the inner parts, two square windows were made between the doors.

Ellora Caves

Ellora is an archaeological site, built by the Rashtrakuta (Kannada) rulers, 30 km (19 mi) from Aurangabad city in the state of Maharashtra, India. Famous for its monumental caves, Ellora is a World Heritage Site. Ellora represents the symbol of Indian rock cut architecture. The 34 “caves” – actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills – being Buddhist, Hindu and Jain rock-cut temples and monasteries, were built between the 5th century and 10th century. The 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12), 17 Hindu (caves 13–29) and 5 Jain (caves 30–34) caves, built in proximity, demonstrate the religious harmony prevalent during this period of Indian history.

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