Ellora caves: A date with ancient painting on the walls!
Ellora caves are very impressive in terms of architectural splendour which are about 30 kms from the city of Aurangabad. Here are some 34 caves, carved out in a curve on the slopes of low hills; 16 of them are hindu, 13 Buddhist and 5 of the jain faith. And yet no signs of religious hostility disturb the tranquil atmosphere of Ellora. These rock temples and monasteries were constructed between the fifth and eight centuries A.D.
The Kailasa temple, dedicated to shiva, is unquestionably the most glorious achievement here. The whole splendid structure of Kailasa is "an enormous monolithic rock carving in architectural form". The deep relief of the shaivite themes and incidents from the puranas that so profusely ornament the Kailasa temple make them appear almost like free standing sculptures. The Kailasa temple alone would absorb all your time in Ellora. Yet there is so much here...
The impressive double-storeyed Visvakarma (cave 10) has a trefoil window in the facade of the upper level, set off by beautifully grouped flying figures. This is both chaitya and Vihara with a seated Buddha in the stupa. There are dwarfs dancing and playing musical instruments in bands of frieze above the pillars. Next to this is a three-storeyed monastery (cave 11). Exquisitely carved bracket figures of river goddesses adorn the entrance to Ramesvara (cave 21) which has a low parapet wall with a long frieze of elephants.
Dumar Lena (cave 29) is dedicated to Shiva and is similar in plan and style to the great cave shrine at Elephanta.
The most interesting of the Jain caves is 32 with a beautiful lotus carved on the ceiling of the shrine and a magnificent Yakshi seated on her lion under a mango tree laden with fruit. This is a double-storeyed cave with paintings in a fair state of preservation on the ceilings.
Every March, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) organises the Ellora Festival of Dance and Music at the caves.
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