Ajanta Ellora Caves

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 15, 2022, 10:03

The Ajanta Ellora Caves are acclaimed outstanding examples of ancient rock-cut caves situated close to Aurangabad in Maharashtra, India. Buddhist monasteries, Hindu and Jain temples, as well as beautiful sculptures, mosaics, and paintings, can all be found in the Ajanta Ellora caves complex.

These caves are UNESCO World Heritage Sites that attract visitors from all around the globe.

Ajanta Caves

  • Ajanta is a complex of rock-cut caverns located near Aurangabad, Maharashtra, in the Sahyadri hills (Western Ghats).
  • There are twenty-nine Buddhist caves, twenty-five of which were utilised as Viharas or residential caves, and four utilised as Chaitya or prayer halls.
  • The caves were constructed between 200 B.C. and 650 A.D.
  • The Buddhist monks inscribed the Ajanta caves under the patronage of the Vakataka rulers, one of them was Harishena.
  • Fresco painting technique was employed to create the figures in these caves.
  • The artworks' outlines were painted in red colour. The scarcity of blue in the paintings is one of the most remarkable elements.
  • Mostly, the paintings depict Buddhism, including Buddha's life and Jataka stories.
  • Travel reports of Chinese Buddhist travellers Fa Hien (reign of Chandragupta II; 380-415 CE) and Hieun Tsang (period of emperor Harshavardhana; 606-647 CE) mention the Ajanta caves.
  • In 1983, the caves were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ellora Caves

  • The Ellora Caves are one of the world's largest Hindu temple cave complexes.
  • The Ellora caves are a collection of hundred caves, thirty-four of which are available to the public. Out of the 34 caverns, 17 are dedicated to Hinduism, 12 to Buddhism, and 5 to the Jain faith.
  • The Ellora Caves are situated nearly 100 kilometres from the Ajanta caves in Maharashtra's Sahyadri range.
  • The Ellora caves were built by numerous guilds from Karnataka, Vidarbha, and Tamil Nadu between the 5th and 11th centuries A.D.
  • The monasteries and temples in the caves were dug beside each other in the wall of a steep basalt cliff and span more than two kilometres. The structures were carved out of the Charanandri hills' vertical face.
  • The Ellora caves are more recent than the Ajanta caves. The structures were built in three phases: from 550 AD to 600 AD by Hindus, from 600 AD to 730 AD by Buddhists, and from 730 AD to 950 AD by Hindus and Jains.
  • The Ellora monuments were patronised by the Rashtrakutas, Kalachuris, Chalukyas, and Yadavas. Parts of the Hindu and Buddhist caves of Ellora were built by the Rashtrakuta and Kalachuri dynasties, while the Jain caves were built by the Yadava dynasty. They were constructed in close proximity to one another to depict the religious concord that prevailed in ancient India.
  • Kailasa Temple (Kailasanatha; cave 16) is the most impressive amongst the Ellora cave temples. It contains the world's biggest single monolith rock excavation. It is named after the Hindu god Shiva, who resides on a mountain in the Himalayan Kailasa Range.

Ajanta and Ellora caves are among the oldest Buddhist architectural sites in the world. The artwork in the Ajanta and Ellora caves were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1983. They are renowned Buddhist sacred art masterpieces and have profoundly influenced India's artistic development.

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FAQs on Ajanta Ellora Caves

Q.1. Where are the Ajanta-Ellora caves situated?

The caves are located in the Aurangabad district region of Maharashtra, India.

Q.2. When were Ajanta-Ellora caves listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites?

The Ajanta and Ellora caves have been the UNESCO World Heritage sites since 1983.

Q.3. What are the Ajanta and Ellora caves?

Ajanta and Ellora are two massive rock-cut caves that epitomise Indian artistry and architectural prowess.

Q.4. What is the significance of the Ajanta and Ellora caves?

While the caves' primary objective was to commemorate the grandeur of Gautama Buddha's life and deeds, they also depict valuable perspicuity into Buddhist life and ideologies.