I had a tourist trip to visit Ellora Caves situated in District Aurangabad Maharashtra India on November 19, 2010. I took the help of a tourist guide approved by A.S.I. (Archaeological Survey of India) to see the caves; who explained the implications of different architectural designs and sculptures.
Ellora caves, spanning the period between the 5th and 11th Century A.D. comprise Buddhist monasteries and temples of the Hindu and Jain faiths which are the product of three religious systems-Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism containing elaborate carvings of gods and goddesses and remarkable memorials of the three great faiths they represent. The excavations on a slopping hill-side are spread over an area of about two kilometres.There are 34 caves in total: Caves No. 1 to 12 are Buddhist group, the Caves No.13 to 29 belong to Hindu group and Caves No. 30 to 34 are in Jain group. I preferred to see three caves in detail described below one each from the three religious faiths and overview of other caves.
Cave No.10 of the Buddhist group of caves is the chaitya or prayer hall. The Buddha in stupa was worshiped here by the Buddhist monks. This cave temple was dedicated to Vishwakarma, the architecture and the patron saint of many Indian artisans. The sound produced inside the hall resounds, the roof acting like an amplifier of sound system. It was demonstrated by the guide by chanting ‘Om’.
Cave No.16 of the Hindu group of caves is by far the best of all Ellora excavations. The rock-cut architecture of this cave is regarded as the greatest monolithic structure in the world. The cave was celebrated as the Kailash, Shiva`s mountain abode. Shiva with his consort Parvati was worshiped here by the Shaivites.Episodes of Ramayana and Mahabharata have been depicted in sculpture on the Southern and Northern sides of Kailash respectively. Kailash combines immensity with superb genius of Indian architect.
Cave No.32 of the Jain group of caves is known as Indra Sabha.There is figure of Mahavira, the founder of Jain faith. The predecessor of Mahavira, tirthankara Parasnath also figures in the cave.It is to be noted that while Jain images have a peculiar heaviness, the pillars and walls of the cave carry ornamental work of great delicacy.
Ellora is famous for its architectural design and outstanding sculptures and it is one of the World Heritage Sites. I was lucky to visit it during the World Heritage Week.
Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda