Ajanta and Ellora Caves
What a glorious past it was, years and years and many treasures went into the making of this symbol of faith.
The gates are in a wooded and rugged and horseshoe shape ravine. There are 29 caves and all, these caves are mainly either payer halls or they are Viharas, the residents of monks.
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The walls in the ceiling of the prayer halls have intricate paintings and sculptures, depicting scenes from Buddha’s life.
The caves are very dimly lit as conservationists are trying to protect the ancient paintings from artificial light.
Some of these images are very familiar. The most commonly photographed image is the calm and serene expression of the graceful bodhisattva.
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While some caves have paintings other are exquisitely carved. At the end of a tall pillared hall in one of the caves, there is a school.
These were the prayer halls monks gathered to invite the teachings of Buddha. The Ajanta caves are also home to the famous reclining Buddha.
There is plenty to see in Ajanta the cave’s unique paintings and intricate carvings, and all of this was once buried under the earth only to be discovered in the 19th century so that the future generation can get a glimpse of the golden period of Buddhism.
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The 12 Buddhist cave 17 Hindu cave and 5 Jain caves are carved out of the same hill. Built between 5th to 10thcenturies the caves required years of planning and execution by many generations.
The construction was completed during the rule of Rastrakutas kings. Of all these perhaps the jewel in the crown is the Kailash Nath’s temple, which took nearly a hundred years to be carved out of a single piece of rock.
We can see him in every mood, meditating and slaying demons in here. Only a few patches of the original color remain, the rest is faded.
The temple has a huge statue of Shiva, bull, Nandi, and on the upper story, while the ‘Shivlinga’ sits in the center of the main chamber. There are Buddhist viharas and chaityas or prayer halls next to the Hindu caves.
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The Jain caves are about a kilometer away. They are smaller but with very detailed carvings. The main is called ‘Chota Kailash’ (small Kailash) and it easy to understand why.
The temple has many figures of ‘Parshu Ram’ and ‘Mahaveer’ and of course ‘Yaksha’ and ‘Yakshini’ the attendant deities.
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