ELLORA: THE PINNACLE OF ROCK-CUT ARCHITECTURE
The Hindu, Buddhist and Jain caves at Ellora were chiselled between the 4th and the 9th centuries. Ellora, considered amongst the finest examples of rock-cut architecture, dates back to the Rashtrakuta dynasty, about 1,500 years ago. Of the 34 caves, 12 are Buddhist, 17 Hindu and 5 Jain.
Maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), The Ellora Caves were declared a World Heritage Site in 1983.
Prominent amongst this series of caves at Ellora are those numbered 14, 15, 16, 21 and 29. Cave 14, shown here, contains sculptural panels adorned with Hindu deities.
Ellora’s Cave 16, known as the Kailasa, is the piece-de-resistance
A monolithic rock-cut structure, it looks like a multi-storeyed temple complex. D
The Kailasa’s courtyard houses two victory pillars, and its side walls are decorated with sculpted panels.
The courtyard also features two life-size elephant statues.
Excavated during the rule of the Kalachuri, Chalukya and Rashtrakuta rulers, the Hindu Caves at Ellora are home to numerous noteworthy sculptures and contain traces of plaster, suggesting that the sculptures were painted.
Cave 15 is a Hindu monument that resembles some of the Buddhist caves in Ellora. It has a huge court that has been made of solid rock.
An inscription in the cave traces the genealogy of the Rashtrakutas, who ruled in the region from 600 AD to the 10th century.
The exterior of the two-storey cave boasts intricate carvings and the roof has been crowned by figurines of humans and animals.
The interiors of the cave are ornamented with awe-inspiring bas reliefs. From floral ornamentations to carvings of snakes and dwarves, the cave is noted for its exceptional.
At the end of the balcony stands a four-armed Rudra carving. Of note is the Bhairava or Mahadeva carving that shows him in a gigantic form that is holding an elephant’s hide and is wearing a waistband of skulls.
Cave 21, known as the Rameshwar cave, is adorned with images of Ganga and Yamun.
Ellora’s Cave 29, locally famous as Sita ki Nahani, resembles the great cave at Elephanta. It has a number of impressive statues as well.
Buddhist Caves: Carved between 6th and 7th century CE, the Buddhist Caves are mostly Viharas or monasteries. Some of these include shrines carved with images of Lord Buddha and bodhisattvas.
The intricately-carved Cave 10 is popularly known as Vishvakarma (the architect of gods), and contains a huge image of Buddha in front of the stupa. It also features a rock-cut balcony.