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Ajanta & Ellora Caves

Ajanta Caves

The Ajanta Caves are 29 rock cut cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BCE. The caves include paintings and sculptures considered to be masterpieces of both Buddhist religious art (which depict the Jataka tales) as well as frescos which are reminiscent of the Sigiriya paintings in Sri Lanka. The caves were built in two phases starting around 200 BCE, with the second group of caves built around 600 CE. Since 1983, the Ajanta Caves have been a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE. The caves are located in the Indian state of Maharashtra, near Jalgaon, just outside the village of Ajinṭhā. 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 to have begun on site and brought to near-completion in the Vakataka phase. 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. A dominant reason for this is that Harisena was not involved initially in patronizing Ajanta.

This cave has one of the most elaborate carvings on its facade with relief sculptures on entablature and ridges. There are scenes carved from the life of the Buddha as well as a number of decorative motifs. A two pillared portico, visible in the 19th-century photographs, has since perished. The cave has a front-court with cells fronted by pillared vestibules on either side. These have a high plinth level. The cave has a porch with simple cells on both ends. The absence of pillared vestibules on the ends suggest that the porch was not excavated in the latest phase of Ajanta when pillared vestibules had become a necessity and norm. Most areas of the porch were once covered with murals, of which many fragments remain. There are three doorways: a central doorway and two side doorways. Two square windows were carved between the doorways to brighten the interiors.

Ellora Caves

Ellora is an archaeological site, 30 km (19 mi) from the city of Aurangabad in the Indian state of Maharashtra built by the Rashtrakuta (Kannada) rulers. Well-known for its monumental caves, Ellora is a World Heritage Site. Ellora represents the epitome 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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