Ellora is a famous archaeological site, located at a distance of 30 km from the Aurangabad city in Maharashtra, India. Renowned for its monumental caves, Ellora has been declared as a World Heritage Site. Built by the Rashtrakutas, Ellora is the finest specimen of the rock-cut architecture of India. The greatest example of cave temples of all time, there are around 34 caves in Ellora built with intricate interiors and decorative facades. The 34 caves have been carved out of the vertical face of the Charanadri hills. It is said that these rock-cut cave temples and monasteries were carved between 350 A.D. and 700 A.D. The 12 Buddhist (caves 1-12), 17 Hindu (Caves 13-29) and 5 Jain (caves 30-34) caves signify the religious harmony prevalent during that period.There are many interesting caves in Ellora:The Buddhist caves are assumed to be the earliest built caves of Ellora, dating from 500 to 750 A.D. All except Cave 10 are viharas (monastries), which were utilized for meditation, study, rituals, eating and sleeping. The Vishwakarma Cave, most fampous of the Buddhist caves, is a Chaitya hall (prayer hall), and features a statue of Buddha in seated posture in a Stupa. Also a cave named Tin Tala, a three storeyed cave, is one of the most admired.Among the Hindu caves, famous are the Kailash Temple, the Rameshwar Cave and the Dashavatara Cave. Dating back to 500 A.D., the Rameshwara Cave is adorned with figurines of river goddesses at its entrance. The Dhumar Lena cave is devoted to Lord Shiva.The Kailash Temple in cave 16 is a remarkable one. It supposedly took around 100 years to be completed. The decorations of the temple are based on the themes and incidents from the Puranas. The temple has been carved out of a single rock piece and its entrance looks like a freestanding Gopura of southern Indian temples. The exterior of the temple carved with niches, windows and images of deities and was even plastered to mirror the white Kailash; catch the attention of visitors. The deities carved at the left of the entrance of the temple are Shaivaite (followers of Lord Shiva), while deities found on the right hand side are Vaishnavaite (followers of Lord Vishnu).The Jain Caves (30 to 34) are large, decorated and well-proportioned, signifying the final phase of the construction activity at Ellora. These caves can be dated back to the late 800 and 900 A.D. and manifest the uniqueness of Jain tradition and philosophy, which include asceticism along with elaborate decoration. The Jain caves are not very large but house remarkably detailed artwork. Most of the Jain caves also contained rich paintings on the ceilings, fragments of which can still be viewed.
Ellora Cave Road, Ellora, Aurangabad, Maharashtra 431005, India