Saturday, 5 April 2014

Ellora Caves

        It was a trip we made in 2001 with a toddler in tow. A trip to acquaint ourselves with the  caves that never went into oblivion ever since they came into existence in 600 AD, albeit increased in number to 34, covering a distance of 2 kms by the time it was 1000 AD. Located near Aurangabad in Maharashtra, the sheer craftsmanship, creativity,  engineering and architectural ingenuity is awe inspiring.
       Imagine this - A high basalt  cliff and caves with temples and monasteries carved out of it's vertical face. Mostly living quarters, these caves are divided into three categories based on the religions they depict. The Buddhist influence from cave 1 to 12 in the southern end of this linear assembly of caves is evident from the Chaityas ( prayer hall)  and viharas (monasteries). It is amazing to witness these multistory  living quarters complete with pillars and  carvings. The most famous of the Buddhist caves here  is the Vishwakarma cave with a carved vaulted ceiling that gives the impression of wooden beam.  In the heart of it is a 15 feet tall Buddha statue in a preaching pose.
       The caves 13 to 29 are illustrations of the Hindu influence built between 6th century and 8th century.Our guide reveled in presenting the show stopper of this ancient entourage located right in the middle. With much flourish and drama  he revealed that Cave 16 is unparalleled in the world as the largest monolithic structure! Complete with a two-story gateway, a courtyard, pillared galleries, a massive image of the sacred bull Nandi, the lingam this  is the famed Kailasnath temple carved out of a single rock. Going by the huge dimensions of the entire complex one can only imagine the size of the original rock from which it was carved.
But the most incredible part was the execution of this project that took more than a hundred years to complete. This entire complex was carved vertically i.e., the first hew was at the top and then proceeded working downwards. I cannot imagine a modern structure of such magnitude taking shape in this traditional method of the ancient masters!

Kailasnath From Top Of The Rock
Courtesy Wikipedia
                                           A visit to this place is a must if you ever plan to make a trip to Maharashtra. It is a legacy bequeathed by the masters whose parallels are yet to be seen in modern times. In all this splendour the message of harmony is not lost. The five Jain caves at the other end of the line complete the picture of religious tolerance. Ellora, a confluence of three religions immortalised what the Indians believed in, long long time ago.

     Have you also come across any historic monument that has bowled you over with it's ingenuity?

    This post was written for A to Z Challenge 2014


  1. Hey great info! Thanks!
    Nvr visited Ellora...must go! I've been bowled over by Odisha temples- Puri, Konark, Lingaraj....hv U ever visited them?! :)

  2. Definitely I am always impressed by Ellora and your post has put it very well. I am huge fan of monuments in India and haven't yet got a chance to explore Ellora Caves. Thanks for sharing !

  3. Thanks Amrita! Would love to visit Odisha some day for the beautiful temples.

  4. Thank you VJ! I am sure you'll love Ellora and Ajanta caves and the nearby Daulatabad fort.

  5. I'm not understanding where this is. Did you take pictures when you were there? YOu did this with a toddler! Oh my, is all I can say. Hope to see you often, playing catch up with my a-z visits, as I've been out of town....traveling.

    traveling suitcase a-z

  6. Your posts are dangerous. I now have a yearning to throw some stuff in a back pack and jump on the next plane to see some of these wonderful places. As a busy mama I can't really see that happening right now, so I will just have to satisfy my travel cravings with your lovely posts. Keep them coming please ... lol


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