Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Ellora Caves - Part 1 - Buddhist Caves

Friday, 24 March 2017

The Ellora Caves are set in a western-facing basalt cliff and have been in continuous use since they were constructed. However, during the later centuries they were used as monsoon residences for nomads, not for their original religious purposes. The caves show evidence of these later uses in the mortars carved into the floors (for grinding grains) and hooks carved into the wall for restraining livestock.

Ellora is also one of a few sites with caves from three major religions of India: Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain. The Buddhist caves at Ellora (caves 1 - 12) were excavated in the 6th through 8th centuries CE. The Hindu caves (caves 13 - 29) date from the 7th through 10th centuries CE. And the Jain caves (caves 30 - 34) were built during the 9th century CE. Today the caves are connected by a modern-era walkway, but originally only a few had connections between them.

The southern end of Ellora Caves. Most of these caves are Buddhist.
Like the caves at Ajanta, Buddhist caves are of two types: chaitya (temple) and vihara (monastery). Cave 12 (above), also known as “Teen Tal” (“Three Levels”), is a large vihara.
Cave 5, “Maharwada” is another vihara. This one has an immense extent, with a low ceiling and large benches (probably used as tables) running from the entrance to the shrine at the end.
Cave 5’s “Teaching” Buddha in the shrine.
Cave 10, “Vishvakarma”, is the only chaitya at Ellora. It features a large stupa and a high, vaulted ceiling.

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