Cave architecture had originated in prehistory or the stone age period leading to the development of paintings and sculptures.

Ajanta caves had their origin since the Satvahana dynasty during the pre-Mauryan period. It is located in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra state. It comprises of 29 caves and has a C shaped structure. It is the only example of the first century BCE and fifth century CE.

It has four chaitya caves and the rest are vihara caves ( chaitya – used for prayers and vihara – residential halls).

FEATURES:  Mural paintings drawn on walls as well as ceilings  of the cave

Figures are dedicated to Buddhism teachings and worship.

Sculptures are found in abundance.

Famous paintings: dying princess, flying Apsara (taken from Jataka stories), Padmapani, and Vajrapani. A technique used to paint is the Fresco style of texture images with limited natural colors, drawn on wet surfaces. Expand during Vakataka kings.

Famous sculptures: Mahaparinibbana of Buddha, cave number 26

Naga king and his consort, cave number 19

Vidarbha sculptural tradition, cave number 2.

Ellora caves are also located in Aurangabad district, 100 km away from Ajanta. It comprises 34 caves build during the Rashtrakuta period, early medieval times.

Cave no. 1-12 are Buddhist caves, 13-29 are Hindu caves and 30-34 are Jain caves. It shows the religious tolerance of kings.


Cave number 10 is a Buddhist chaitya called the Vishwakarma or carpenter’s cave. Buddha is seated in Vyakhyana mudra and a Bodhi tree is carved in his back.

Cave 14 is themed as Raavan ki Khai.

Cave 15 is called the Dashavatar temple.

Cave 16 is a Kailash temple dedicated to Lord SHIVA, formed by Krishna king. It is called as finest Ellora architecture.

Cave 21 is famous for Rameshwar temple and 29 for Dhumar Lena.

Famous Jain caves are INDRA SABHA and JAGANNATH SABHA cave 32 and 33 respectively.

Cave no. 4 is called rang mahal, meaning the palace of colors, paintings to walls are still visible.

Ajanta and Ellora caves are regarded as UNESCO world heritage sites.

The caves will bring you closer to our culture in understanding the past.

“If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.” –John F. Kennedy, former American President

Categories: Culture and History

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