Carved between 350 AD and 700 AD, the Ellora Caves are located at a
distance of 30 km from Aurangabad. The caves are wonderful pieces of history
representing three faiths - Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. The total number
of these caves is 34, out of which 12 are Buddhist. However, one can observe
that even the Buddhist Caves have reference to the Hindu and Jain faith, and
demonstrate the gradual decline of Buddhism. The Buddhist Caves belong to
the Mahayana Phase and bear some the finest images of Lord Buddha. The
ceilings of the caves bear paintings and geometrical patterns while the
walls and pillars of the caves have various sculptures and mural depicting
scenes from Lord Buddha's life. Other images on the walls of the caves
include images of Jain and Buddhist deities, their consorts, apsaras,
attendants of gods, animals and plants.
Cave 10, which is famously known as Visvakarma, is a chaitya hall or prayer
hall. The cave bears the image of Buddha seated in a stupa. Figurines of
river goddesses can be seen adorning the entrance of the Ramesvara Cave.
Among the Viharas or the residence of monks, cave 5 is the largest. The most
impressive of all however is the Tin Tala, the three storied cave. Yet
another worth seeing site is cave 16 known as Kailasa Temple. It took 100
years to build the temple which was carved out of a single rock. The temple
is the most stunning of all the Ellora caves. Inside, one can notice
exquisite carvings with various themes and incidents from the Puranas.
The temple has an ornate facade too. The exterior is rich with carvings and
images. To the left of the entrance are Shaivaite images while to the right
are the images of Vaishanavite deities. At the rear of the hall is the
sanctum sanctorum that enshrines a linga with a Dravidian Shikhara and a
mandapa held up by sixteen pillars. The image of Nandi, the sacred bull of
Shiva, sits in a separate porch and remains surrounded by an open court. A
low gopura is the entrance to this open court. The courtyard has two
Dhvajastambhas (pillars with flagpole). The huge sculpture of Demon King
Ravana, trying to lift Mount Kailasa, is an excellent piece of Indian art
Dating back to the late 6th century, Dhumar Lena (Cave 29) is designed on
the line of the Elephanta Caves close to Mumbai. The architecture of the
cave is truly worth experiencing and is one of its kind among all the caves
of Ellora. Cave 30 is known as the Chhota Kailasa. The cave is an inferior
copy of the Kailasa Temple (Cave 16). The cave has a number of images of the
Jain teerthankars. One can also observe the image of Mahavira on his Lion
Throne. Another worth visiting site is Cave 32, known as the Indra Sabha.
The sides of the temples bear detailed carvings of elephant, lion and vases.
A variety of carved pillars can be seen in the caves of Ellora. The pillars
are very sturdy and are erected in proportion to the largeness of the caves.
The Ellora Caves can be visited from sunrise to sunset on all weekdays
(except Monday). The cave are located at a distance of 30 km from Aurangabad
in Mahrashtra. Aurangabad has its own railway station and is easily
accessible from Mumbai and Delhi. The city has a good network of roads as
well. By road, one can reach Aurangabad from cities like Pune, Ahmedabad,
Jalgaon, Shirdi, Nasik and Dhule.
Aurangabad has no dearth of accommodation. One can find a number of tourist
lodges and economy hotels. The Mahrashtra Tourism Corporation Holiday Resort
near the Aurangabad Railway Station can be a nice option for tourists. You
can also choose to stay in places like Mumbai, Pune, Shirdi etc.