Description : Constructed between 600 A.D to 1,000 A.D, the Ellora Caves brings the ancient Indian civilization to life. Here, you can see 34 monasteries and temples sprawling over an area more than 2 km which were dug side-by-side on the wall of a high basalt cliff. Apart from its unique artistic creation and technological excellence, the Ellora Caves are known for its sanctuaries devoted to three religions – Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
Ellora is an archeological site that represents the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture. The 35 "caves" – actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills – comprised of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain cave temples and monasteries, were built between the 5th century and 10th century. The 12 Buddhist (caves 1-12), 17 Hindu (caves 13-29) and 5 Jain caves (caves 30-34), built in proximity, demonstrate the religious harmony prevalent during this period of Indian history.
The magnificent group of rock-cut shrines of Ellora, representing three different faiths, Buddhist, Brahmanical and Jaina were excavated during the period from 5th to the 13th century AD. The Buddhist Caves (1 to 12) were excavated between the 5th and the 7th centuries AD, when the Mahayana sects were flourishing in the region. Important in this group are Caves 5, 10 and 12. Cave 10 is a chaitya-hall and is popularly known as 'Visvakarma'. It has a highly ornamental facade provided with in gallery and in the chaitya-hall is a beautiful image of Buddha set on a stupa. Among the viharas, Cave 5 is the largest. The most impressive vihara is the three - storeyed cave called 'Tin - Tala'. It has a large open-court in front which provides access to the huge monastery. The uppermost storey contains sculptures of Buddha.
The Brahmanical caves numbering 13 to 29 are mostly Saivite. Kailasa (Cave 16) is a remarkable example of rock-cut temples in India on account of its striking proportion, elaborate workmanship, architectural content and sculptural ornamentation. The whole temple consists of a shrine with linga at the rear of the hall with Dravidian sikhara, a flat-roofed mandapa supported by sixteen pillars, a separate porch for Nandi surrounded by an open-court entered through a low gopura. There are two dhvaja-stambhas, or pillars with the flagstaff, in the courtyard. The grand sculpture of Ravana attempting to lift mount Kailasa, the abode of Siva, with his full might is a landmark in Indian art.
The Jaina Caves (30 to 34) are massive, well-proportioned, decorated and mark the last phase of the activity at Ellora.Locally these caves are known as 'Verul Leni'.