Caves in India
Ellora Caves information

Ellora Caves

Ellora located in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India, is one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, featuring Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monuments, and artwork, dating from the 600-1000 CE period. Cave 16, in particular, features the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world, the Kailasha temple, a chariot shaped monument dedicated to Shiva. The Kailasha temple excavation also features the gods, goddesses, and mythologies found in Vaishnavism, Shaktism as well as relief panels summarizing the two major Hindu Epics. There are over 100 caves at the site, all excavated from the basalt cliffs in the Charanandri Hills, 34 of which are open to public. These consist of 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12), 17 Hindu (caves 13–29) and 5 Jain (caves 30–34) caves, with each group representing deities and mythologies that were prevalent in the 1st millennium CE, as well as monasteries of each respective religion. They were built in proximity to one another and illustrate the religious harmony that existed in ancient India. All of the Ellora monuments were built during Hindu dynasties such as the Rashtrakuta dynasty, which constructed part of the Hindu & Buddhist caves, and the Yadava dynasty, which constructed a number of the Jain caves. Funding for the construction of the monuments was provided by royals, traders and the wealthy of the region. Although the caves served as monasteries, temples and a rest stop for pilgrims, its location on an ancient South Asian trade route also made it an important commercial centre in the Deccan region. It is 29 kilometres (18 miles) north-west of Aurangabad, and about 300 kilometres (190 miles) east-northeast of Mumbai. Today, the Ellora Caves, along with the nearby Ajanta Caves, are a major tourist attraction in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra and a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India. Ellora, also called Verul or Elura, is the short form of the ancient name Elapura. The older form of the name has been found in ancient references such as the Baroda inscription of 812 CE which mentions "the greatness of this edifice" and that "this great edifice was built on a hill by Krishnaraja at Elapura". The edifice in the inscription being the Kailasa temple (Cave 16). In the Indian tradition, each cave is named and has a suffix Guha (Sanskrit), Lena or Leni (Marathi), meaning cave. The Ellora caves are located in the Indian state of Maharashtra about 29 kilometres (18 miles) northwest from the city of Aurangabad, 300 kilometres (190 miles) east-northeast from Mumbai, and about 100 kilometres (62 miles) west from the Ajanta Caves. Ellora occupies a relatively flat rocky region of the Western Ghats, where ancient volcanic activity in this area had created multilayered basalt formations, known as the Deccan Traps. The volcanic activity that formed the west-facing cliff, which houses the Ellora caves, occurred during the Cretaceous period. The resulting vertical face made access to many layers of rock formations easier, enabling architects to pick basalt with finer grains for more detailed sculpting.

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