Prayer halls check, Bodhisattvas murals check, monastery check and absolute bliss, a double check!
Buddhist caves in Ellora (Cave 1-13) are no different from that of Ajanta and were the earliest structures to be built here between the 5th and 8th century. Some of its artistic charms are:
Cave 2 – Because bigger is better!
By Anandajoti Bhikkhu
A broken Verandah, a dainty hall and mammoth galleries to lose your all, Cave 2 is a Buddhist monastery that can win every history buff’s heart. You will catch the first sight of this cave after toiling up some stairs. Mark our words, the first thing you will notice there will be its ornate pillars and a grandiose structure of Buddha sitting on a lion throne facing the setting sun.
Are you a patron of Buddha too? If yes, then you are going to find him left, right and centre, sitting in different postures along with different deities of Buddhism here. That sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?
Cave 10 – the modish one!
By Shriram Rajagopalan
Are you looking for the most famous Buddhist cave in Ellora Caves India? Well, with cave number 10 of Ellora India on your list, your wait is over. Call it by whatever name you like, Vishwakarma Cave, Carpenter’s cave or Chandrashala, there is one thing that’s certain, mesmerizing artistic treasures are coming your way.
Festooned with a starling multi-story entry is this Stupa hall. As you will pan its nooks and crannies you will realize that the stone ceiling here is carved to give the effect of wooden beams. Whoa! Also, you will come across a 16 foot tall Buddha statue in preaching pose. Sounds music to ears, doesn’t it?
Cave 12 – Three Floored Wonder!
By Anandajoti Bhikkhu
Tootle around the rugged routes of Ellora just to land on a three-storey wonder. It is here that a ginormous yet beautifully carved gate will welcome you to a huge courtyard. There are three levels to this large monastic complex, each one of which holds a certain value. The lowermost level of this complex permits travellers to come face to face with Boddhisatva’s frescos.
By Anandajoti Bhikkhu
Take a flight up to the second floor, to encounter a shrine on the eastern side. With a huge image of Buddha in Bhumisparsha Mudra, the second floor of Teel Tal despite its dark aesthetic is capable of lightning up your face. Wait! Remember, there is a third floor too? There you will witness seven images of Vipasyi, Sikhi, Vishvabahu, Krakuchhanda, Kanakamuni, Kashyapa and Sakyasimha – all Manusi Buddhas.
As we have already discussed earlier, the rise of Hinduism in the 6th to 8th century depicts the change in the architecture of the caves later made in Ellora. All the caves from 13 to 29 are Hindu Caves. Most of these caves were made during the Kalchuri period. Furthermore, you will see a common feature in all the caves, a lingam-yoni (depicting Shiva) at the centre of the shrine. Want to know the most famous of them all? Here you go!
Cave 15 – a window to Hindu mythology
Cave 15 is an architectural splendour also called as the Das Avatara (ten incarnations). The cave is a tribute to the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu celebrating the victory of good over evil through the ravages of time.
This finest cave of Ellora flamboyantly showcases the powerful trinity at their absolute best. If you are on a cultural trip to India, then we are sure, you will love the carving of Shiva Nataraja here. And, if still, your heart craves for more, the image of Shiva emerging from a lingam (phallic image) will definitely please your travel appetite.
Cave 21 – Rameshwaram Cave
Hail to the earliest of the Hindu caves in Ellora India! Also, known as Rameshwaram cave, Cave 21 is a portrayal of Shaivite scenes similar to that in the early temples of India. This shrine has on display the best of carvings with a common element of Lingam.
There are illustrations of various deities in this shrine. Out of which the figure of Goddess Ganga residing on her vehicle Makara (mythical sea creature) steals away the spotlight.
The five caves lying to the north of the Ellora belong to the Digambara sect. Furthermore, they were excavated in the 9th to the 10th century.
Smaller than the Hindu and Buddhist Caves, Jain Caves have similar architectural attributes of Hindu caves such as mandapa and a pillared verandah.
The Jain temples have the carvings of the yaksha and yakshi, gods and goddesses, and devotees all depicting the Jain mythological sensibilities of that time.
Cave 30- Chota Kailash
Chota Kailash is yet another artistic manifestation of the 9th century and apparently is built along the same line as that of the Kailasa Temple.
Popularly known as the Indra Sabha, this temple showcases the courtroom of the King of Gods. With two gigantic statues of Indra, an eight-armed and the other a 12-armed statue in a dancing pose, this cave brings to its visitors the best of India’s ancient assets. Other than that, you will also find other deities here.