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Ajanta and Ellora are the pride of Maharashtra

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INTRO Ajanta and Ellora are the pride of Maharashtra. The rock-cut caves of both these sites are world famous and illustrate the degree of skill and artistry that Indian craftsmen had achieved several hundred years ago. Ajanta dates from 100 B. C. while Ellora is younger by some 600 years. The village of Ajanta is in the Sahyadri hills, about 99 kms. From Aurangabad; a few miles away in a mammoth horseshoe-formed rock, are 30 caves overlooking a gorge, `each forming a room in the hill and some with inner rooms.

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Al these have been carved out of solid rock with little more than a hammer and chisel and the faith and inspiration of Buddhism. Here, for the Buddhist monks, the artisans excavated Chaityas (chapels) for prayer and Viharas (monasteries) where they lived and taught. Many of the caves have the most exquisite detailed carvings on the walls, pillars and entrances as well as magnificent wall paintings. CONCLUSION In their range of time and treatments they provide a panorama of life in ancient India and are a source of all kinds of information… air styles, ornaments, textiles, musical instruments, details of architecture, customs etc. It was from this collection of classical Indian art that a particular style was formed that traveled with Buddhism to many parts of the world. Similar paintings can be seen in Sigiriya in Sri Lanka, Bamiyan in Afghanistan, temples and shrines in Tibet, Nepal, China and Japan. Royal patronage made Ajanta possible. Professional artists carried out much of the work and each contributed his own individual skill and devotion to this monumental work.

Visitors often ask how the artist who painted the detailed frescoes and chiseled out the intricate carvings, managed to work in the dark interiors of the caves. It has been noticed that the caves are illuminated by natural light for part of the day and it is presumed that metal mirrors or sheets of white cloth were used to reflect sunlight into the inner recesses. PG1 The Ajanta Caves (Aji?? ha leni; Marathi: ?????? ???? ) in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra. The caves are located in the Indian state of Maharashtra, near Jalgaon, just outside the village of Ajin? ha (20°31? 56? N 75°44? 44? E).

Caves are only about 59 kilometers from Jalgaon Railway station (on Delhi – Mumbai, Rail line of the Central railways, India); and 104 kilometers from Aurangabad (from Ellora Caves 100 Kilometers). They are cut into the volcanic lava of the Deccan in the forest ravines of the Sahyadri Hills and are set in beautiful sylvan surroundings. These magnificent caves containing carvings that depict the life of Buddha, and their carvings and sculptures are considered to be the beginning of classical Indian art. PG2 , India are 30 rock-cut cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BCE to the 600 CE.

The caves include paintings and sculptures considered to be masterpieces of Buddhist religious art (which depict the Jataka tales) as well as frescos which are reminiscent of the Sigiriya paintings in Sri Lanka. The caves were built in two phases starting around 2nd century BCE, with the second group of caves built around 600 CE. It is a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India. The caves vary from 35ft to 110ft in height. The caves of Ajanta consist of Viharas or Monasteries and Chaitya Grihas or monument halls cut into the mountains in two phases. The monasteries are of various sizes the tallest being of 52ft.

The monasteries were used by the Buddhist monks for meditating and studying Buddhist teachings. They are mostly square shaped and projects didactic, devotional, and ornamental paintings from Jataka Tales and life of Gautam Buddha, contemporary people, kings, slaves, flowers, plants, fruits, birds and beasts. There are also the figures of yakshas, kinneras (half human and half bird) gandharvas (divine musicians), apsaras (heavenly dancers) seen in several wall paintings and sculptures and also art and architecture of the 3rd AD Gupta Dynasty. The 1st, 2nd, 16th and 17th caves can be rated as the greatest artistic works.

Pg 4&5,6 First period This is a Buddhist community, comprising five sanctuaries or Chaitya-grihas (caves 9, 10, 19, 26 and 29) and monastic complex sangharamas or viharas. A first group of caves was created in the 2nd century BC: the chaitya-grihas open into the rock wall by doorways surmounted by a horse-shoe shaped bay. The ground plan is a basilical one: piers separate the principal nave from the side aisles which join in the apsis to permit the ritual circumambulation behind the (commemorative monument). This rupestral architecture scrupulously reproduces the forms and elements visible in wooden constructions.

According to Spink (2006), the first phase was the construction of sanctuaries (known as chaytia-grihas) built during the period 100 BCE to 100 CE, probably under the patronage of the Satavahana dynasty (230 BCE – c. 220 CE) in the canyons of the Waghora River. The caves 9, 10, 12 and 15A were constructed during this period. [5] Murals preserved from this time belong to the oldest monuments of painted art in India. [edit]Second period A second group of caves was created at a later date, the 5th and 6th centuries AD, during the Gupta and post-Gupta periods.

These caves were excavated during the supremacy of the Vakatakas and Guptas. According to inscriptions, Varahadeva, the minister of the Vakataka king, Harishena (c. AD 475-500), dedicated Cave 16 to the Buddhist sangha while Cave 17 was the gift of the prince, a feudatory. An inscription records that the Buddha image in Cave 4 was the gift of some Abhayanandi who hailed from Mathura. Scholars disagree about the date of the Ajanta Caves’ second period. For a time it was thought that the work was done over a long period from the fourth to the 7th century AD, but recently long-time researcher Walter M.

Spink declared that most of the work took place over short time period, from 460 to 480 CE, during the reign of Emperor Harishena of the Vakataka dynasty. Some 20 cave temples were simultaneously created, for the most part viharas: monasteries with a sanctuary in the structure’s rear centre. According to Spink, the Ajanta Caves appear to have been abandoned shortly after the fall of Harishena c. 480 CE. Since then, these temples have been abandoned and gradually forgotten. During the intervening centuries, the jungle grew back and the caves were hidden, unvisited and undisturbed. edit]Rediscovery by Europeans On 28 April 1819, a British officer for the Madras Presidency, John Smith, of the 28th Cavalry, while hunting tiger, accidentally discovered the entrance to one of the cave temples (Cave No. 10) deep within the tangled undergrowth. Exploring that first cave, long since a home to nothing more than birds and bats and a lair for other, larger, animals, Captain Smith scratched his name in on one of his name and the date, April 1819. Since he stood on a five foot high pile of rubble collected over the years, the inscription is well above the eye-level gaze of an adult.

Shortly after this discovery, the Ajanta Caves became renowned for their exotic setting, impressive architecture, historic artwork, and long-forgotten history. Cave 1-pg 7 and 8 The first cave was built on the eastern end of the horse-shoe shaped scarp. According to Spink, it is one of the latest caves to have begun on site and brought to near-completion in the Vakataka phase. Although there is no epigraphic evidence, it has been proposed that the Vakataka Emperor Harishena may have been the benefactor of this better-preserved cave.

A dominant reason for this is that Harisena was not involved initially in patronizing Ajanta. This cave has one of the most elaborate carvings on its facade with relief sculptures on entablature and ridges. There are scenes carved from the life of the Buddha as well as a number of decorative motifs. A two pillared portico, visible in the 19th-century photographs, has since perished. The cave has a front-court with cells fronted by pillared vestibules on either side. These have a high plinth level. The cave has a porch with simple cells on both ends.

The absence of pillared vestibules on the ends suggest that the porch was not excavated in the latest phase of Ajanta when pillared vestibules had become a necessity and norm. Most areas of the porch were once covered with murals, of which many fragments remain. There are three doorways: a central doorway and two side doorways. Two square windows were carved between the doorways to brighten the interiors. Each wall of the hall inside is nearly 40 feet (12 m) long and 20 feet (6. 1 m) high. Twelve pillars make a square colonnade inside supporting the ceiling, and creating spacious aisles along the walls.

There is a shrine carved on the rear wall to house an impressive seated image of the Buddha, his hands being in the ‘dharmachakrapravartana mudra. There are four cells on each of the left, rear, and the right walls. The walls are covered with paintings in a fair state of preservation. The scenes depicted are mostly didactic, devotional, and ornamental. Cave 2-pg 9,10 Cave 2, adjacent to Cave 1, is known for the paintings that have been preserved on its walls, ceilings, and pillars. It looks similar to Cave 1 and is in a better state of preservation. [edit]The facade

Cave 2 has a porch quite different from Cave one. Even the facade carvings seem to be different. The cave is supported by robust pillars, ornamented with designs. The size and ground plan have many things in common with the [edit]The porch The front porch consists of cells supported by pillared vestibules on both ends. The cells on the previously “wasted areas” were needed to meet the greater housing requirements in later years. Porch-end cells became a trend in all later Vakataka excavations. The simple single cells on porch-ends were converted into CPVs or were planned to provide more room, symmetry, and beauty.

The paintings on the ceilings and walls of this porch have been widely published. They depict the Jataka tales that are stories of the Buddha’s life in former existences as Bodhisattva. The porch’s rear wall has a doorway in the center, which allows entrance to the hall. On either side of the door is a square-shaped window to brighten the interior. [edit]The hall The hall has four colonnades which are supporting the ceiling and surrounding a square in the center of the hall. Each arm or colonnade of the square is parallel to the respective walls of the hall, making an aisle in between. [edit]The paintings

Paintings appear on almost every surface of the cave except for the floor. At various places the art work has become eroded due to decay and human interference. Therefore, many areas of the painted walls, ceilings, and pillars are fragmentary. Cave 3and cave 4-pg 11 CAVE 3 This is an incomplete monastery (10. 08 X 8. 78 m) and only the preliminary excavation of pillared verandah exist. CAVE 4 This squarish monastery consists of a hall, sanctum sanctorum, pillared verandah and is datable to first half of sixth century A. D. This is the largest monastery at Ajanta measuring (35. 08 X 27. 65 m).

The door frame is exquisitely sculpted flanking to the right is carved Bodhisattva as reliever of Eight Great Perils. The cave was once painted, traces of which can be noticed. The ceiling of the hall preserves a unique geological feature of a lava flow. Cave 5,6,7-PG12,13 CAVE 5 This monastery (10. 32 X 16. 8 m) is an unfinished one. However, the richly carved door frame, and female figures on makaras are important ones. CAVE 6 This is a double storeyed monastery (16. 85 X 18. 07 m) consisting of hall, sanctum sanctorum and a pillared hall in the lower storey and a hall with cells, subsidiary cells and sanctum sanctorum in the upper storey.

Buddha in preaching attitude is housed in both the shrines. The depiction of Miracle of Sravasti and Temptation of Mara are the important paintings. Sculptural depiction of Buddha in various attitudes and postures can also be noticed here. CAVE 7 This monastery (15. 55 X 31. 25 m) consists of a sanctum sanctorum, an oblong open hall with two small porticos supported by heavy octagonal pillars and eight cells. Buddha in preaching attitude is housed inside the sanctum. Other sculptural panels include Miracle of Sravasti, seated Buddha under the protection of Nagamuchalinda, etc.

CAVE8,9 PG 13,14,14. 5 CAVE 8 This is an unfinished monastery (15. 24 X 24. 64 m) at Ajanta, located at the lowest level and perhaps earliest among the monasteries. Major portion of the frontage has been swept away by a landslide. CAVE 9 This apsidal chaityagriha (18. 24 X 8. 04 m) is datable to second century B. C. and belongs to the Hinayana phase of Buddhism. The chaityagriha consists of an entrance door, two side windows, central hall, nave flanked by side aisles (pradikshana) on either side separated by a row of 23 pillars and a stupa, the object of worship.

The chaityagriha exhibits reproduction of wooden architectural styles, in the form of inward tapering octagonal pillars, evidence of fixing wooden beams ; rafters, etc. The chaitya was in use during later period also as indicated by the sculptures of Buddha on the facade and side walls facing the court. Inside the chaitya is seen two layers of paintings, the earlier dating back to the second half of 1st century B. C. and the alter to 5th – 6th centuries A. D. Cave 9 – One of the earliest prayer hall caves, notable for its arched windows that let softly diffused sunlight in the cave.

This Theravada cave also features a large stupa. CAVE 10 In April 1819, John Smith, a British Army Officer noticed the huge arch of this cave from the view point which ultimately led to the discovery of Ajanta Caves. This cave is the earliest chaityagriha at Ajanta. A Brahmi inscription on the facade dated to the 2nd century B. C. reads ‘Vasithiputa Katahadi’. The cave (30. 5 X 12. 2 m) consists of a large central hall, nave flanked by two aisles (pradikshana) separated by a row of 39 octagonal pillars and a rock stupa at the apsidal end, the object of worship.

The cave consists of two period of paintings, the earlier dated to 2nd century B. C and the later 4th – 6th century A. D. Two Jataka stories of this period have been identified, namely, the Sama (Shama) Jataka and the Chhaddanta Jataka. The later period paintings contain Buddha figures in various poses mainly over the pillars. Cave 10 – Theravada prayer hall, thought to be the oldest cave temple at Ajanta, dating to the 2nd century BC. CAVE 11,12,13,14-PG 15, CAVE 11 This monastery (19. 87 X 17. 35 m) datable to beginning of fifth century A. D. onsists of a hall with six cells and a long bench, a pillared verandah with four cells, a sanctum sanctorum. Buddha in preaching attitude is housed in the sanctum against an unfinished stupa. Few paintings that available here depicts Bodhisattvas, figures of Buddha, etc. CAVE 12 This Hinayana monastery consists of a hall (14. 9 X 17. 82 m) the front wall is completely collapsed sided by twelve cells arranged on three sides. An inscription on the back wall of the monastery records the gift of this cave by one merchant Ghanamadada and palaeographically datable to 2nd – 1st century B. C. erhaps slightly later than Cave 10. The cell frontage are decorated with chaitya window motifs above the door opening. CAVE 13 This is a small monastery and belongs to the first phase. It consists of an astylar hall with seven cells on three sides. The cells are provided with rock-cut beds. CAVE 14 This unfinished monastery (13. 43 X 19. 28 m) was excavated above Cave 13 at a higher level. It was originally planned on a large scale. The depiction of sala bhanjikas on the top corners of doorway is beautifully depicted. Cave 15,15a,16,17-pg 16,17,18 CAVE 15 The monastery (19. 62 X 15. 8 m) consists of an astylar hall with eight cells, an antechamber, sanctum sanctorum and a pillared verandah. The sculptural depictions include Buddha in various postures, seated Buddha on simhasana inside the sanctum sanctorum. The traces of paintings indicate that it was originally painted. CAVE 15A Smallest of all the excavations at Ajanta this cave consists of a small central astylar hall with one cell on three sides. The front wall had an inscription in shell characters (which is now lost). The hall is relieved with chaitya window pattern rising from vedica pattern. CAVE 16

According to an inscription found here, the excavation of this cave was caused by Varahadeva, the minister of Vakataka king Harishena (circa A. D. 475-500). The cave (19. 5 X 22. 25 X 4. 6 m) which is a monastery consists of a central hall surrounded by 14 cells on three sides, vestibule and a sanctum for Buddha image. The important painted themes depicted are the conversion of Nanda; Miracle of Sravasti; Maya’s dream; and certain incidents from the life of Buddha. The Jataka stories depicted are Hasti, Maha-ummagga, Maha-sutasoma. Painted inscriptions can also be noted inside the caves. CAVE 17

A Brahmi inscription found here records the excavation of this cave by a feudatory prince under Vakataka king Harishena. This monastery (34. 5 X 25. 63 m) consists of a spacious hall surrounded by 17 cells on three sides, a vestibule and a sanctum containing the image of Buddha. The cave houses some of the well preserved paintings of the Vakataka age that includes Vessantara Jataka (right of door), a huge and gigantic wheel representing the ‘Wheel of Life’; flying apsara (to left of door), subjugation of Nalagiri (a wild elephant) by Buddha at Rajagriha, Buddha preaching to a congregation.

The Jatakas depicted here are Chhaddanta, Mahakapi (in two versions), Hasti, Hamsa, Vessantara, Maha-Sutasoma, Sarabha-miga, Machchha, Mati-posaka, Sama, Mahisa, Valahass, Sibi, Ruru and Nigrodhamiga. Cave 18,19,20,21-pg 19,20 CAVE 18 This consists of a rectangular excavation (3. 38 X 11. 66 m) leading into another cell. The hall has two pillars with moulded bases and octagonal shafts. CAVE 19 This chaityagriha (16. 05 X 7. 09 m) is datable to fifth century A. D. and could be the gandhakuti. The stupa is carved with a standing image of Buddha 7.

This cave is known for it sculptural grandeur of the facade and particularly the two life size Yaksha images on either sides of the chaitya vatayana (arch). The hall has painted depictions of Buddha in various postures. CAVE 20 A pillar less monastery consists of hall (16. 2 X 17. 91 m) cells, sanctum sanctorum and a pillared verandah datable between A. D. 450 and 525. A Brahmi inscription in the verandah records the gift of the mandapa by one Upendra. Buddha in preaching attitude is housed in the sanctum. The sculpture of seven Buddhas accompanied by attendants is another important sculptural panel in this cave.

CAVE 21 This monastery (28. 56 X 28. 03 m) consists of a hall with twelve pillars and twelve cells on three sides, sanctum sanctorum, pillared verandah (pillar’s restored now). Out of 12 cells four are with pillared porches. The sanctum house seated Buddha in preaching attitude. Trace of paintings are noticed which consist of a panel depicting Buddha preaching a congregation. Cave 22,23,24,25-pg 21 CAVE 22 This monastery (12. 72 X 11. 58 m) consists of an astylar hall four unfinished cells, sanctum sanctorum and a narrow verandah. Buddha seated in pralamba-padasana is carved on the back wall of the shrine.

The sculptural depiction of Buddha in different forms, painted figures of Manushi-Buddhas with Maitreya can be noticed here. CAVE 23 This is an unfinished monastery (28. 32 X 22. 52 m) and consists of an astylar hall, sanctum sanctorum, antechamber ; side cells and a pillared verandah. The cave is known for the rich decoration of pillars and pilasters and the naga doorkeepers. CAVE 24 This is an incomplete monastery (29. 3 X 29. 3 m) and second largest excavation at Ajanta after Cave 4. The plan consists of a hall with pillared verandah and sanctum sanctorum.

A chapel with pillared porch is excavated outside the verandah. The sanctum houses a seated Buddha in pralamba-padasana. CAVE 25 This monastery (11. 37 X 12. 24 m) consists of an astylar hall, pillared verandah and an enclosed courtyard and excavated at a higher level. Two cells are noted on the left end of the verandah and the hall has no cells. The hall is devoid of shrine. CAVE 26,27,28,29-PG 22/PG22,23 CAVE 26 This chaityagriha is quite similar to Cave 19, but of a larger dimension (25. 34 X 11. 52 m) and more elaborately and exquisitely provided with sculpted figures.

An inscription (A. D. 450 – 525) found on the wall of the front verandah records the gift of this chaityagriha by a monk Buddhabhadra, a friend of Bhavviraja, a minister of the king of Asmaka (Vidarbha). The chaityagriha consists of a hall, side aisles (pradikshana) and a rock-cut stupa front by an image of Buddha. The facade, the inner pillars, the triforium (between pillars and roof arch), aisles side walls are extensively carved with images and decorative designs. However, the most striking and prominent image is that of Mahaparinirvana of Buddha on the right aisle wall nd the assault of Mara during Buddha’s penance adorns the same wall. CAVE 27 This cave could have been part of Cave 26 and it consists of two storeys, the upper one partially collapsed. The monastery consists of a hall with four cells, antechamber and sanctum sanctorum. Buddha in teaching attitude is housed inside the sanctum. CAVE 28 This is an unfinished monastery of which only the pillared verandah was excavated. CAVE 29 This is an unfinished chaityagriha (22. 8 X 12. 84 m) in its first stage of excavation and located at the highest level, located between Caves 20 and 21. Ending-pg 24

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