Caves carved out of a granite cliff over 2,000 years ago continue to intrigue archaeologists. How were these temples carved and above all ... where are the heaps of stones that were released.

Ajanta caves

About thirty kilometers from Aurangabad, in Maharashtra, in central India, British soldiers made a strange discovery during a tiger hunt in 1819. Hidden by a thick jungle (it is difficult to imagine nowadays that this rather arrid region was in the heart of an impenetrable forest ...), about thirty caves excavated in the cliff. Carved from the ceiling to the floor, according to a technique also used elsewhere in India, these caves are impressive.

Cave excavation period

The oldest caves in Ajanta were excavated in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, during the Shâtavâhana dynasty and the most recent were dug between the 6th and 8th centuries AD when the Châlukya of Vâtâpi were in power. In the region.

Function of caves

These Buddhist caves carved out of hard basalt had several functions. Some of the caves served as refuge for the monks while others were meeting and prayer rooms. Some of these rooms are huge, measuring up to 30 meters by 14. In each of them, a statue of Buddha in a niche.

All of these caves are beautifully decorated with paintings and sculptures. While it is difficult to date paintings correctly, their style gives a fairly precise idea of ​​the period of their creation.

The site could accommodate several hundred people at its peak. It was not only a religious center welcoming many monks, but it was also a university center where teachers and students were housed.

Conservation state

At the time of their discovery most of the paintings were intact. They have unfortunately been severely degraded by tourism over the past 200 years. Lighting was only possible with torches, and it is easy to imagine the damage that the smoke from these torches could cause.

The mystery of the Ajanta caves

The construction of these caves, the oldest of which date back more than 2000 years, is a real enigma. Not only the question of knowing how men were able to achieve such masterpieces at a time when the tools were inefficient, but also and especially that of knowing where the debris of the excavated rocks went, occupied and continue to occupy the many researchers who have taken an interest in these archaeological and architectural treasures.

These caves are not the only ones in the region. A hundred kilometers from Ajanta, the Ellora caves are also magnificent.

about the place, Ajanta Caves:

In the region of Aurangabad in Maharashtra, there are about thirty caves carved out of granite. These Buddhist caves are known as "Ajanta caves". These excavations date from the second century BC until the end of the fifth century AD.

It seems that these caves are ancient monasteries and places of worship carved into a cliff 75 meters high.

They are decorated with paintings and statues depicting the life of Buddha and other Buddhist deities.

They were not rediscovered until 1819 by an English officer participating in a tiger hunt. At the time the region was covered with a dense forest. It's hard to imagine it these days ...

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** India **

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-- Maharashtra --

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Ajanta caves • Aurangabad

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Bibi Ka Maqbara

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Ellora caves • Aurangabad

India•Maharashtra
Ajanta caves, Maharashtra, India

Spoken comments in the film: 

Thirty temples and Buddhist monasteries were dug in a very hard basalt rock before the beginning of our era.

The oldest excavations date from the 2nd century BC. The most recent date from the 6th century AD.

These temples of knowledge could house a few hundred people, monks, teachers or students.

They are distinguished by their remarkable paintings which were almost intact when the caves were discovered by English soldiers in 1819.

In the meantime, many tourists have passed by, alas ...

 

Music:

 - K.S. Narayanaswami (Inde)  - India IV - Karnatic Music (South India) - Ehi Annapurne, Bärenteiter - Musicaphon (BM 30 L 2021)

 - Suresh Prajapati (Inde)  - Indian Classical Instrumental - Flute Tabla Raga 1, Suresh Prajapati

Ajanta Caves