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The famous Cave temples and great Chaitya halls Viharas

Updated on March 25, 2016

ajanta cave


Wonderful to know

Iron pillar at Mehrauli, New Delhi.

The pillar is a wonder in itself because it has not rusted till date, making even modern technicians wonder about the technique used to make it.

Metallurgy is a science in which we learn how the metal is extracted from its ore and also, we study how to make alloys of different metals. For example, steel and brass.

Ajanta is a great cave temple

Since 1983, the Ajanta caves have been a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Ellora Caves Kailash Temple


Architecture in the Mouryan period

Buddhism played a very important role in the development of architecture that consisted of Viharas or monasteries, Chaityas or Prayer halls and Stupas.
Many stupas, chaityas (worship halls), viharas and temples were constructed during this period.
There are great sources of our knowledge about the past. They tell us how they were constructed, about the material used and also give a complete idea about the technological skill of the builders.
The buildings often depict stories and incidents and have inscriptions and family trees through images and paintings. These are very useful to understand the life of the people of the era.
Kings and princes built most of the ancient monuments and temples. For some of these buildings, money was donated by rich and their guilds, craftsmen, land owners,individual donors, including women. Hundreds of people worked on these buildings to give them the final shape. Their maintenance was done with the revenue collected from certain villages. The temples also employed a large number of people to cook, wash and clean.

Buddhist Cave Temples Are Jaw-Droppingly


Ajanta caves consist of twenty four monasteries and five chaitya halls

The caves at Ajanta consist of twenty four monasteries and five Chaitya halls. These have been carved out of an almost perpendicular rock about 80 meters high and about 380 meters long from east to west. They request both Hinayana and the Mahayana phases of Buddhism.

The Viharas at Ajanta are of different sizes but built on similar lines. There is a pillared verandah in front, from which three doors and two windows lead into the main hall. The side walls of this hall have doors opening into 15 to 20 small bare cells for the monks to live in. The central area of the hall contains as colonnade of 20 pillars which creates a large central square space with aisles all around. In the centre of the rear wall is a doorway leading into a shrine chamber containing a large rock – cut image of the Buddha. The door jambs (pillars in the two sides of doorways) are adorned with floral carving, and most of them also have exquisite sculpture of female figures alongside. The rock – cut Buddha age contained within each shrine is of impressive proportions and the calm, self – absorbed expression on the face of the figure is most inspiring.

Among the chaitya at Ajanta, the chitya number 19 is the most remarkable of all. The entire façade (front) of this chat is beautifully decorated with sculptured images, and light enters the interior through a magnificent horse – shoe shaped window above the entrance. On either side of the little pillared porch leading to the interior are two standing Buddha fight urges in a relaxed pose. The interior an inverted U – shaped end, with decorated pillars that follow the apsidal (U – shaped) plan of the chitya. At the far end is an imposing stupa with an ornamental niche containing a standing image of the Buddha.

temple at bhaja w chaitya hall


Chaitya at Karle


Chaitya – halls and monasteries

The earliest chaitya halls and monasteries were wooden structures. From about the second century BC., more permanent structures were carved out of hill – sides. These are known as cave – temples. chaitya – halls and viharas constructed with bricks are also known to have existed. A large number of rock - cut sanctuaries have been found at several places, such as Udayagiri, Ajanta, Ellora, Karle and Nasik.

These `sanctuaries', hewn from solid rocks, are of two kinds – Viharas (monasteries) and chaitya (cave temples). The viharas were permanent residents of bhikkhus and bhikkhunis. These consisted of a central hall with small cells on all sides. The chaitya, which is another name for a stupa, was the object of worship in a chaitya. A chaitya hall consisted of a rectangular hall supported by a row of pillars. The ceiling of a chaitya hall is semi – circular in form. There is is a large window above the main entrance to allow light to come in . The stupa is placed at the far end of the hall.

Chaitya at Karle

By far the largest and most magnificent of the early cave temples is the one at Karle in Pune district of Maharashtra. This stupendous chaitya was excavated between AD 100 – 125 during the reign of the Satavahana rulers. The columns (pillars) of the cave are rich and elaborate in treatment. Each individual column rests on a water jar – shaped base. The sixteen – sided shafts support capitals shaped like lotus flowers and above these rise inverted pyramids, which in turn support elaborately carved groups of elephants with male and female riders on their backs. At the inner end there is is an imposing stupa with a wooden umbrella on top. Astonishingly, the originally wood has survived unharmed to this date. The outer end is opened by a huge horse – shoe arch, trellis to let in light and air.

The Ajanta caves are situated near Aurangabad in Maharashtra State. Cut out of a large rocky plateau, these monuments relating to Buddhism are truely remarkable.

the Chaitya and few viharas



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