Things to do / see in Ajanta Caves, Aurangabad, Maharashtra , India

legend / travel / tourism / cave paintings / sculpture / murals / porch / rediscovery / facade / hall / caves / photo gallery / photograph / images / timming / entry fees of Ajanta Caves

buddhist rock cut caves indiaThe 30 rock cut caves of Ajanta by means of incomparable exquisiteness, are cut into the steep facade of a horseshoe shaped hill side, quiet but for the birdsong from the close by Waghore River. The caves, some of them incomplete, are of two fundamental designs called Chaitya grihas and Viharas. Five of the caves 9,10, 26, 29 are Chaityas / Buddhist cathedrals whilst the other 25 are Viharas / monasteries. Chaitya grihas were halls of wors
hip which are huge, rectangular chambers alienated by rows of pillars into a mid nave, bounded by aisles on three sides, for circumambulation for the duration of prayer, with a sanctuary on the reverse of the entry. The Chaityas are ornamented with sculptures and murals which depict a lot of incarnations of Buddha. Viharas or monasteries are halls which are rectangular in shape with series of small cells with attachment on two sides for the abode of monks. Amongst them, the earlier group belongs to the Hinayana sect in 2nd century B.C. and the later group, to the Mahayana sect reigning from A.D. 450 to 650.

Several of the caves are dark in the interior and with no light paintings are tough to observe. A lighting ticket needs to be obtained on production of which the cave guards put on the lights for the visitors to witness the paintings. Many of the paintings still shine in their original colors. The external walls are enclosed with sculptures. The art portrays the graceful timber built interiors of roomy palaces, halls, occupied by bejeweled princess and princesses, retinue of attendants, mendicants and market spaces, celestial musical group and foreign ambassador with fur cap on strange missions. War horses in colorful accessories, monkey, peacock, elephants and multitude of additional images dictate the world of these anonymous artists.

Ajanta paintings are more appropriately tempera, in view of the fact that they are painted on a dried up surface. The paintings were performed subsequent to the rock walls were layered with a 1cm thick coating of clay and cow dung and mixture of rice husks. A finishing coat of lime was applied to make the completed surface on which the artist painted. These stunning paintings have survived time and even today make the ambiance very vibrant and lively. The shapes of the figures leave the visitor mesmerized.

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