The Ellora caves, locally known as ‘Verul Leni’. It is located on the Aurangabad-Chalisgaon road at a distance of 30 km north-northwest of Aurangabad District in Maharashtra, India. Thus grew one of the largest cave excavations at Ellora, that two of three different religious creeds, viz., Buddhism, Brahmanism, and Jainism.
History Of Ellora Caves
The caves are datable from circa 6th – 7th century A.D. to 11th – 12th century A.D. In total, there are nearly 100 caves in the hill range out of which 34 caves are famous and visited by many tourists, out of which Caves 1 to 12 are Buddhist; also, Caves 13 to 29 are Brahmanical and Caves 30 to 34 are Jaina. Two more groups of caves are noticed on the Elaganga and on an upper terrace, namely, the Ganesh Leni and Jogeshwari Leni.
The Ellora Caves are an impressive complex of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain cave temples built between the 6th and 10th centuries AD near the ancient Indian village of Ellora. The Ellora Caves not only bear witness to three great religions (Buddhism, Brahminism, and Jainism) but they also illustrate the spirit of tolerance, characteristic of ancient India, which permitted these three religions to establish their sanctuaries and their communities in a single place, which thus served to reinforce its universal value. The caves, with their uninterrupted sequence of from 600 to 1,000 monuments, bring to life again the civilization of ancient India.
Architecture Of Ellora Caves
These breathtaking caves are definitely worth visiting for their remarkable reliefs, sculptures, and architecture. Progressing from south to north along the cliff, one discovers successively the twelve caves of the Buddhist group, which appear to be the oldest (between c. 600 and 800) and comprise monasteries and a single large temple (cave 10).
Then the caves of the Brahmin group (c. 600 to 900) which are no doubt the best known of Ellora with the ‘Cavern of the Ten Avatars’ (cave 15) and especially the Kailasha Temple (cave 16), an enormous complex, most likely undertaken during the reign of Krishna I (757-83).
Finally, the Jain group (caves 30-34) whose sanctuaries were created by the sect of the Digambara towards AD 800-1000, The Jain caves, the last to be excavated, drew their inspiration from the art already existing at Ellora: cave 32 recalls by certain of its dispositions the Kailasha Temple.
The sculpture in the Buddhist caves accurately conveys the nobility, grace, and serenity inherent in the Buddha. among these caves, 5 is the largest. Also, Caves 6 and 10 house images from the Buddhist and Hindu faith, under the same roof, the latter dedicated to Vishwakarma, the patron saint of Indian craftsmen.
The Vishvakarma cave is both a Chaitya and a Vihara, with a seated Buddha placed in the stupa. Its two-storied structure sports a colorful pageant of dwarfs, dancing and making music. Also, The historical value of cave 12 or Tin Tala lies in the fact that human hands built a three-storeyed building from the rock with such painstaking skill that even the floors and the ceiling are smooth and level. Tin Tala cave is a monastery-cum-chapel, with cells. It dates to the Rashtrakuta period in the mid-8th century.
The Kailasa temple in Cave 16 is an architectural wonder. The entire structure having been carved out of a monolith, the process taking over a century to finish. This mountain – abode of Lord Shiva, is in all probability, the world’s largest monolith, the gateway, pavilion, assembly hall, sanctum and tower, all hewn out of a single rock. The Kailash temple in the Ellora caves is one of the world’s largest and massive sculpture. It was curved out of a rock with the help of 7000 laborers and took nearly 150 years to complete.
The five Jain caves at Ellora belong to the ninth and tenth centuries. They all belong to the Digambara sect. Jain caves reveal specific dimensions of Jain philosophy and tradition. They reflect a strict sense of asceticism. They are not relatively large as compared to others, but they present exceptionally detailed artworks.
The most remarkable Jain shrines are Chhota Kailash (cave 30), Indra Sabha (cave 32) and Jagannath Sabha (cave 33). Cave 31 is an unfinished four-pillared hall and a shrine. Cave 34 is a small cave, which can be approached through an opening on the left side of Cave 33.
Ellora Caves Timing and Entry Fees
The caves remain open on all days except Mondays from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm.
Entrance Fee: Citizens of India Rs. 10 per head also the same amount for visitors of SAARC and BIMSTEC Countries.
SAARC Countries are Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives, and Afghanistan.
BIMSTEC Countries are Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Myanmar.
Others: US $ 5 or Indian Rs. 250/- per head (children up to 15 years free)
The season extends all around the year. Although the best season to visit Ajanta and Ellora is from October to March.