The 34 caves running along the hillside at Ellora were excavated by Buddhists (600-800 CE), Hindus (600-900) and Jains (800-1000). Each of these groups has its own area and the cases shows artistic development over time, but the Hindu caves (caves 13`-29) are generally considered to be the most artistically significant. Still, the Buddhist caves have some significant monuments, particularly in cave 10, which is a chaitya or worship-hall. Here we see the Teaching Buddha seated on a throne and flanked by attendants; behind the Buddha image is the form of the stupa, which is one of his symbolic forms. The roof is carved to mimic the timber framing of contemporary architecture, and light is brought in by a clerestory window high in the cave's facade.
||This image is a decorative element from one of
the earliest Buddhist caves--the figures seem more stiff and wooden than in
later renditions. The three panels on the left all have the Teaching
Buddhas, whereas the larger panel in the middle has him giving reassurance.
This image shows the Teaching Buddha flanked by several bodhisattvas. It was at the far end of a large hall, and would have functioned as a sort of "chapel."
|Here is another teaching Buddha, this one done in bas-relief figures as part of a wall decoration. Note the rapt attention of all the other figures in the scene.|
|The last two Buddhist caves (11 and 12) are
both viharas or residence-halls, though each one also has some images set
at the back of some of the rooms. Each of these viharas is 3 stories tall,
and each has porches at the front, and a staircase at each end of the building.
All of these were excavated, not built--the rock on the hillside was cut away
until the pillars, porches, and stairs remained. It's an incredible
project to even contemplate.
In a climate such as Ellora's, which doesn't get very cold (though it does get very hot), a cave would have been a pretty comfortable living space.
These pages are in progress.
Page maintained by James G. Lochtefeld.
Last modified 13 August 2011