Ellora Caves are renowned throughout the globe for their excellent artwork and prehistoric temple. Portraying the rich tradition of India, Ellora Cave Temples have been declared as the World Heritage Site. Located in Aurangabad district, Ellora Caves can be reached by taking regular tourist buses or by hiring taxis from anywhere in Maharashtra. The nearest airport is sited at Aurangabad that is hardly 18 kms from Ellora caves.
Reminiscent of the cave temples of Ajanta, these are too excavated out of the solid rock. In total, there are 34 cave temples that are divided into three groups, Buddhist, Hindu and Jain respectively. These three groups can be further termed as three periods, which sustained from 200 - 600 AD (Buddhism) to 500 - 900 AD (Hindu) and finally 800 - 1000 AD (Jain). Every year, Ellora festival of classical dance and music is organized at these caves by MTDC.
Positioned in the lap of the Chamadari Hills, the temples appear as a lop-sided ridge of rock budding vertically from the ground. Ellora Caves celebrate the three faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The exotic sculptures and intricate carvings of these temples depict the affluent culture of India. The enormous artistry of these caves is the result of the various experiments done in the period of 300 years.
Amongst the 34 cave temples, no more than 12 temples (Cave 1 to 12) belong to the Buddhist period. These temples have incorporated themes of Hindu and Jain, which suggests the deliberate waning of Buddhism. These caves trace their origin in the Mahayana phase of Buddhism and comprise many really striking images of Buddha.
Built somewhere during 550 - 750 AD, the caves are decorated with carvings, paintings, sculptures and murals depicting the life of Lord Buddha. Cave No. 10 and 12 are regarded as the important ones. The former presents typical example of Chaitya architecture and got its name from Vishwakarma (the divine architect). Cave 12 is known for its magnificent three-storey structure.
Following Buddhist Caves, there are seventeen caves (Cave 13 to 29) that embrace Hindu temples. Constructed somewhere during 600 - 875 AD, the Hindu caves are entirely imprinted with carvings and sculptures of apsaras, tree nymphs, animal motifs, trees, plants, gods and goddesses.
One can see intricately carved pillars that are massive, but sited proportionately to accord with the size of caves. Several pillars are plain and lack carvings; however a larger number have carved bases, brackets and grooved shafts. Cave No.16 comprises the Kailash Temple that is known to have the largest monolith structure of the world.
After Hindu Caves, there comes the number of Jain Caves. Built between 800 AD and 1000 AD, five caves (Cave 30 to 34) belong to the Jains. Again the caves are adorned with images of the Lords and various mythological pictures.
Ellora Caves present a wonderful exemplar of cave temple architecture. The world heritage site of Ellora, has detailed fascia in the company of elaborate interiors. The main patrons of Ellora cave temples are assumed to be the Chalukya - Rashtrakuta rulers (7th - 10th century). In those times, many king and merchants contributed huge sum of money for the erection of these temples. The construction of these temples was believed to provide salvation (moksha) to the Kings.
Ellora Cave temples took around five centuries to seek completion. Wholly carved by Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monks, the temples appear astonishing in the golden light of the Sun. Ellora Caves boast of the outstanding imagination and detail work of art in the shape of their ancient monasteries, temples and chapels. The exquisite carvings have glimpse of Buddhism, Hindu and Jain expressions. Exhibiting the ingenious excellence of the artists, the caves are adored with wooden beams, graceful angles, steps along with divine figures of gods and goddesses.
Ellora Cave has preserved beautiful wall paintings of the bygone era. Around 5 caves possess such paintings, but the best preserved lies in Kailasa Temple. According to the archeological revelations, the paintings were made in two phases. The paintings that belong to the first phase usually portray Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi. In the later phase, the masterpiece is that of a procession of Shaiva, the holy men. The paintings also illustrate beautiful 'Apsaras' in a graceful flying pose.