The scale at which
the work was undertaken is enormous. It covers twice the area of the
Parthenon in Athens and is 1.5 times high, and it entailed removing
200,000 tonnes of rock. It is believed to have taken 7,000 labourers 150 years to
complete the project.
rear wall of its excavated courtyard 276 feet (84 m) 154 feet (47 m)
is 100 ft (33 m) high. The temple proper is 164 feet (50 m)
deep, 109 feet (33 m) wide, and 98 feet (30 m) high.
Kailasa Temple, cave #16 at
Full resolution (1,280 Χ 960 pixels, file size: 545 KB, MIME
It consists of a
gateway, antechamber, assembly hall, sanctuary and tower. Virtually
every surface is lavishly embellished with symbols and figures from
the puranas (sacred Sanskrit poems). The temple is connected to the
gallery wall by a bridge.
Described as Cave 16, the Kailasa
Temple is considered
the pinnacle of Indian rock-cut architecture
The gigantic, 8th century Kailasa Temple at
Ellora, Cave 16,
was chiselled from solid stone. Click for bigger
Kailasa Temple, cave #16 at
Dramatic sculptures fill the courtyard and the main
temple, which is in the center.
It must have been quite a spectacular sight when it was covered with
white plaster and elaborately painted.
Kailasa Temple, cave #16 at
Unlike other caves at Ajanta and Ellora,
Kailasa temple has a huge courtyard
that is open to the sky,
surrounded by a wall of galleries several
The Kailasa temple is an
illustration of one of those rare occasions when men's minds,
hearts, and hands work in unison towards the consummation of a
Ajanta (more properly Ajujnthi), a village in the
erstwhile dominions of the Nizam of Hyderabad in India and now in
Buldhana district in the state of Maharashtra
(N. lat. 20 deg. 32' by E. long. 75 deg. 48') is celebrated for
its cave hermitages and halls.
Located 99-km from Aurangabad, Maharashtra, Ajanta encompasses 29 rock-cut rooms created between 200 BC and
AD 650 using rudimentary hand tools. Most are viharas (living
quarters), while four are chaityas (temples).
Full resolution (1,280 Χ 960 pixels, file size: 311 KB, MIME
The Ajanta caves were discovered in the 19th century by a group of British officers
on a tiger hunt.
Ajanta began as a religious enclave for Buddhist monks and
scholars more than 2,000 years ago. It is believed that, originally,
itinerant monks sought shelter in natural grottos during monsoons
and began decorating them with religious motifs to help pass the
rainy season. They used earlier wooden structures as models for
their work. As the grottos were developed and expanded, they became permanent
monasteries, housing perhaps 200 residents.
The artisans responsible for Ajanta did not just hack holes in
the cliff, though. They carefully excavated, carving stairs,
benches, screens, columns, sculptures, and other furnishings and
decorations as they went, so that these elements remained attached
to the resulting floors, ceilings and walls.
They also painted patterns and pictures, employing pigments
derived from natural, water soluble substances. Their achievements would seem incredible if executed under ideal
circumstances, yet they worked only by the light of oil lamps and
what little sunshine penetrated cave entrances.
The seventh century abandonment of these masterpieces is a
mystery. Perhaps the Buddhists suffered religious persecution. Or
perhaps the isolation of the caves made it difficult for the monks
to collect sufficient alms for survival.
Some sources suggest that remnants of the Ajanta colony relocated
to Ellora, a site closer to an important caravan route. There,
another series of handcrafted caves chronologically begins where the
Ajanta caves end.
Near Ellora , village in E central Maharashtra state, India,
extending more than 1.6 km on a hill, are 34 rock and cave
temples (5th13th century).
Located about 30 Kilometres from Aurangabad, Ellora caves are
known for the genius of their sculptors. It is generally believed
that these caves were constructed by the sculptors who moved on from
Ajanta. This cave complex is multicultural, as the caves here
provide a mix of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain religions. The Buddhist
caves came first, about 200 BC - 600 AD followed by the Hindu 500 -
900 AD and Jain 800 - 1000 AD.
Cave 30: Chota (small) Kailasa Temple, Ellora
Of the 34 caves chiselled into the sloping side of the
low hill at Ellora, 12 (dating from AD 600 to 800) are Buddhist
(one chaitya, the rest viharas), 17 are Hindu (AD 600 to
900), and 5 are Jain (AD 800 to 1100).
As the dates indicate, some caves were fashioned simultaneously - maybe as a form of religious competition. At the time, Buddhism
was declining in India and Hinduism regaining ground, so
representatives of both were eager to impress potential followers.
Although Ellora has more caves than Ajanta, the rooms generally
are smaller and simpler (with exception of Kailasa Temple).
Visiting Ajanta and Ellora
One of India's greatest architectural treasures, the Kailasa temple attracts thousands of tourists annually.
Today, both Ajanta and Ellora are maintained by the Maharashtra
Tourism Development Corporation. The sites are open daily from 9
a.m. until 5:30 p.m., with guides available for hire. Visitors pay a small admission fee to enter the Ajanta site and
extra to attendants for lighting cave details. Entry is free to all
caves at Ellora except the Kailasa Temple.
A good base from which to visit Ajanta and Ellora is Aurangabad,
serviced daily by Indian Airlines and East West Airlines flights
from Mumbai (Bombay). The city has a variety of accommodations,
ranging from a youth hostel to five-star hotels.
At least a three-night stay in Aurangabad is advised, because
(100 kilometres northeast by road) requires a full-day
excursion and Ellora
(30 kilometres northwest) a half-day.
Temples in India
A renowned Artist of India, has restored and
preserved the Indian Heritage of Ajanta painting.
Renowned artist of Marathwada Mr. M.R. Pimpare
has for the past 55, Years been trying to recreate the
paintings of the Gupta Vakataka period around 450 A. D.
unfolding to the world the actual glory of Ajanta which over
the years has suffered deterioration.
The centuries old paintings of Ajanta caves recreated exactly
as they were when freshly painted by the unknown artist
recapture the past glory of the wall paintings on gigantic
sheets of paper.
Mr.Pimpare has completed 350 paintings which measure from one
foot to 65 x 4 in length capturing minute details of
expression, facial flexion, contours of the body, movement of
the muscles and other minute details.
Ajanta art gallery is a display of the
restructuring of Ajanta cave paintings. It is a devoted work
of 30 long years by Mr. M.R. Pimpare, an artist whose work is
done on the basis of photographs and historical records like
drawings with all details prepared indicating the extent of
damaged portion and contracting it faithfully in colour.
Mr. Pimpare has undertaken an entirely new approach of
preservation and conservation as well as restoration of
paintings with the help of most scientific modern and
sophisticated instruments. The new approach aims at
conservation of paintings in its exact duplicate copy form
exactly like the original which are displayed in the Art
Gallery. It is also proposed by the Marathwada Statutory
Development Board to have a permanent art gallery which would
provide glimpses of the famous National Heritage.
Ajanta Art Gallery at present is located in Eknath Nagar, Near
Shahnoor Miya Dargah.