Ajanta and Ellora are two monumental caves excavated that define the Indian art and architectural achievements. Although these two monuments are separated by a distance of approximately 100 kilometers, is often mentioned together for its aesthetics and its importance, as well as by the fact that they are in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra.
While Ajanta shows us mainly beautiful paintings on the walls of the caves with the theme of Buddhism as a prominent, Ellora gives us a picture of how was the sculpture and architecture belonging to three different religions which at that time prevailed in the country: Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.
Caves of Ajanta:
Ajanta caves is a set of 30 caves of different sizes in a stretch of excavated rock embedded in a hill in front of a small stream called Waghora. All the caves are connected to each other through a series of passageways and flights of stairs. These caves have adopted the name of the nearby town of Ajanta.
In the interior of the caves you can admire paintings of the masterpiece of Buddhist religious art, with figures of Buddha and representations of the stories of the previous lives of Buddha.
The caves were built in two phases, the first of them around the second century before Christ and the second over the years 400-650 after Christ. The buddhist monks used this serene place during the monsoon and spent so much time in here who came to deepen their religious quest through prayer.
In Ajanta you can see two types of caves: Vihara and CHAITYA. Vihara are monasteries used for life, rest and prayer. The front of the vihara is often marked by a portico with columns. These were along the tunnels of the caves and had circular pillars on both sides. At the end of the tunnel is used to place a stupa (a symbol of the Buddha).
These caves were abandoned on two occasions. The caves and its excavation returned to its peak again with the succession of the emperor of the Han Dynasty Vakataka Harishena, but again he was interrupted by the death of Harisena in the year 477 after Christ. This time the abandonment consisted in nearly 1,000 years, until John Smith, a British officer, discovered Ajanta accidentally the 1,819 April 28, while he was hunting of tigers.
The Ellora caves consist of 34 monasteries and temples excavated on a wall of a cliff of basalt that is understood by more than two kilometers away. The caves were made from the 5th century until the 10th century, and represent one of the finest examples of the architecture India cave paintings.
Ellora has temples dedicated to religion Hindu, Buddhist and Jain. The Buddhist caves were the first structures of the place and were created around the 8th century. These structures consist mainly viharas or monasteries of several floors carved into the side of the mountain, including bathrooms, kitchens and other rooms for sleeping. The most famous Buddhist cave is the cave of Vishwakarma, popularly known as the cave of the carpenter.
With regard to the Hindu caves, were built between the mid 6th century and the end of the eighth century. Represent a different style of skills of vision and creative execution. Some of these caves were of such complexity that required several generations of planning and coordination to be completed. The culminating point of all the Hindu caves is the Kailasha, designed to remind the mount Kailash, the abode of Shiva. It was carved from a single rock and covers an area twice the size of the Parthenon of Athens. Kailasha only took one hundred years to be completed.
The caves of Jainism belong to the last phase of construction in Ellora. It’s in smaller in size but contain some interesting works of art in very detailed. The most outstanding sculptures in the Jain are those of yakshini and durga. Ajanta & Ellora caves is the one of the famous tourist destination of Maharashtra as well as India.