state of Maharashtra is blessed with a rich heritage of ancient
monuments and exquisite architectural marvels representing different
phases of development in the art and architectural style. The prime
rock-cut architectural examples of the cave temples that are spread all
over the state are the caves of Ajanta and Ellora.
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. Ellora 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 a 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 of Ellora numbering 13 to 29 are mostly Saivite.
Kailasha (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
Shikhara, 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 'Dhvajastambhas', or pillars with the flagstaff,
in the courtyard. The grand sculpture of Ravana attempting to lift mount
Kailasha, the abode of Siva, with his full might is a landmark in Indian
The Jaina Caves (30 to 34) are massive, well-proportioned, decorated
and mark the last phase of the activity at Ellora.