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Ellora

Ellora

is an archaeological site, 29 km (18 mi) North-West of the city of Aurangabad in the Indian state of Maharashtra built by the Rashtrakuta dynasty. It is also known as Elapura (in the Rashtrakuta literature-Kannada). Well known for its monumental caves, Ellora is a World Heritage Site. Ellora represents the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture. The 34 “caves” are actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills. Buddhist, Hindu and Jain rock-cut temples and viharas and mathas were built between the 5th century and 10th century. The 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12), 17 Hindu (caves 13–29) and 5 Jain (caves 30–34) caves, built in proximity, demonstrate the religious harmony prevalent during this period of Indian history.It is a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India

History

Ellora is known for Hindu, Buddhist and Jain cave temples built during (6th and 9th centuries) the rule of the Kalachuri, Chalukya and Rashtrakuta dynasties. The Jagannatha Sabha a group of five Jain cave temples of 9th century built by Rashtrakuta.[

The Buddhist caves

These caves were built during the 5th-7th century. It was initially thought that the Buddhist caves were one of the earliest structures, created between the fifth and eighth centuries, with caves 1-5 in the first phase (400-600) and 6-12 in the later phase (mid 7th-mid 8th), but now it is clear to the modern scholars that some of the Hindu caves (27,29,21,28,19,26,20,17 and 14) precede these caves.[citation needed] The earliest Buddhist cave is Cave 6, followed by 5,2,3,5 (right wing), 4,7,8,10 and 9. Caves 11 and 12 were the last. All the Buddhist caves were constructed between 630-700.

These structures consist mostly of viharas or monasteries: large, multi-storeyed buildings carved into the mountain face, including living quarters, sleeping quarters, kitchens, and other rooms. Some of these monastery caves have shrines including carvings of Gautama Buddha, bodhisattvas and saints. In many of these caves, sculptors have endeavoured to give the stone the look of wood.

Most famous of the Buddhist caves is cave 10,(refer map) a chaitya hall (chandrashala) or ‘Vishvakarma cave’, popularly known as the ‘Carpenter’s Cave’. Beyond its multi-storeyed entry is a cathedral-like stupa hall also known as chaitya, whose ceiling has been carved to give the impression of wooden beams. At the heart of this cave is a 15-foot statue of Buddha seated in a preaching pose. Amongst other Buddhist caves, all of the first nine (caves 1–9) are monasteries. The last two caves, Do Tal (cave 11) and Tin Tal (cave 12) have three stories.

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