Ellora caves are pages right out of a history book. The history of Religion, Culture, Art, Lifestyle, India. Situated about 30 km north of Aurangabad, this World Heritage Site was carved from the Charanandri mountains, dating back to the 5th century. A total of 34 caves belonging to different eras and religions.
Caves 1-12 – Buddhist caves
Caves 13-29 – Hindu caves
Caves 30-34 – Jain caves
Unfortunately time did not permit us to visit the Jain caves, something for next time.
The Buddhist caves were mainly monasteries with tiny room and stone beds, meditation rooms. Some were more elaborate depicting the life of Budha and his previous incarnations, Bodhisattva and saints.
One of the main caves was he Chaitya haal – Cave 10. The stone ceiling looked like wooden beams and in the center was a Stupa with a huge statue of Buddha. The cave also has wonderful acoustics. Our guide demonstrated this by singing an old Buddhist prayer which resonated throughout the hall and had a very soothing effect.
The other Buddhist caves were quite similar and were mainly living quarters.
The Hindu caves are impressive but nothing compared to the Kailasanatha (Cave 16) which was carved out of a single rock. This cave/temple is multi-storied with so many statues, carvings that it took 300 years to complete the entire structure. One of the walls depicts the entire Ramayan and another wall depicts the Mahabharata. The entire base of the temple rests on massive elephants. The surrounding walls depict scenes from the life of Lord Shiva and Vishnu.
I wonder why more people do not visit these caves. It was a pleasant surprise for me, and I wish I had more time to explore the caves and visit the Jain caves as well.
A couple of pointers – Definitely get a government appointed guide (Rs. 750). They speak fluent English and have so many stories to share, you will be amazed.
It is best to visit during winter when the weather is cooler, but unlike other cities, Aurangabad has wonderful weather even during summer. I personally would love to visit during the rainy season or immediately after the rains.
Hope you will visit this marvel some day and like the images below.