cave architecture in India is believed to have begun in the third
century BC. These caves were used by Buddhist and Jain monks as
places of worship and residence. Initially the caves were
excavated in the western India. Some examples of this type of cave
structure are Chaityas and Viharas of Buddhists. The great cave at
Karle is one such example, where great Chaityas and Viharas were
excavated by hewing out rocks. The Karle caves are big in size and
the interior is lighted up by great windows.
Besides the caves at Karle, many caves were excavated at other
places. These were excavated not only by Buddhists or Jains but
also by Hindus. Some of the famous and prominent caves are at
Nashik, Kanheri, Gaya (Barabar Hills), Bhaja, Nagarjunikonda,
Badami, Elephanta and Ellora. These caves house some of the
amazing murals, sculptures and architectural structures. The
Elephanta caves contain Maheshmurti, Shiva in three aspects of
Creator, Preserver and Destroyer. This is undoubtedly one of the
finest single piece Indian sculptures. There are numerous such
great examples of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain rock temples at Ellora
but the most spectacular of all splendid is the Kailasha temple.
The Kailasha temple was hewn of rocks.
Maharashtra is home to the spectacular and amazing Ajanta and
Ellora group of caves. The cave at Ajanta and Ellora were cut out
of rock, by hand, and rank amongst some of the most outstanding
specimens of ancient Indian architectural heritage. In all there
are 34 caves at Ellora and 29 caves at Ajanta.
Caves Ajanta caves were rediscovered in the 19th century by
British officers. The Ajanta caves depict the story of Buddhism,
spanning the period from 200 BC to 650 AD. The caves at Ajanta
served as secluded retreats to the Buddhist monks. Beautiful wall
frescos and sculptures speak volumes of the advancement of Indian
art in ancient period. Some of the caves at Ajanta house panels
depicting stories from the Jatakas, stories about several
incarnations of the Buddha. Cave number one contains wall frescos
that include two great Bodhisattvas, Padmapani and Avalokiteshvara.
Other wonderful paintings in Ajanta are the flying apsara, dying
princess and Buddha in preaching mode.
At Ellora, the caves are 34 in number. The Ellora caves are carved
into the sides of a basaltic hill. The caves at Ellora contain
some of the finest specimens of cave-temple architecture and
exquisitely adorned interiors. Structures in the Ellora caves
represent the three faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism and
were carved during 350 AD to 700 AD. The nobility, serenity and
grace of Buddha are visible in the Buddhist caves of Ellora.
Ellora caves also contain images of Vishwakarma, the patron saint
of Indian craftsmen. The Kailasha temple in Cave 16 is indeed an
architectural wonder, the entire structure having been carved out
of a monolith.
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