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00:59 • Jain nuns on pilgrimage

01:26 • In the caves

07:27 • The temple of Kailâsanâtha


The state of Maharashtra in central India is home to several extraordinary sets of temples and cave monasteries, carved out of very hard basalt.

Ellora and Ajanta

The Ellora caves are more recent than those of Ajanta. If the Ajanta site was excavated between the 3rd century BC and the 7th century AD, those of Ellora were excavated between the 7th and 11th centuries AD.

One of the remarkable peculiarities of the Ellora caves is the fact that they contain temples of 3 of the most important religions of India: 12 Buddhist caves, 17 Hinduists and 5 Jains. This reflects well the religious tolerance that characterized India at that time.

Buddhist caves

The Buddhist caves are the oldest, since they were dug between 500 and 650 AD.

The most famous of these is the Vishwakarma cave (also called the carpenter's cave because of its ceiling and its entrance reminiscent of wooden beams). Like the other Buddhist caves on the site, Vishwakarma was a monastery where Buddhist monks lived, but it also has a shrine with a huge statue of Buddha.

Hindu caves

Hindu temples excavated in basalt are slightly newer and were built around the 7th century. The most impressive of these cave temples is certainly the temple of Kailasanatha. Equal in size to at least twice that of the Parthenon of Athens, the temple of Kailasanatha is of an extreme delicacy and was entirely excavated in the cliff.

This temple recalls the shape of Mount Kailash, home of the god Shiva in the heights of the Himalayas. This temple is dedicated to Shiva.

Entirely carved from top to bottom in the cliff, the temple of Kailasanatha is probably the largest monolithic monument in the world. Its realization is a real technical feat.

Jain Caves

More modest in size, the Jain caves at the Ellora site are no less remarkable for the finesse of their decoration.

Another difference between the excavated Jain temples at the Ellora site and the Buddhist or Hindu caves is that their ceilings were usually painted. Their construction would last from the 9th to the 12th century AD.



** India **


-- Maharashtra --


Ajanta caves • Aurangabad


Bibi Ka Maqbara


Ellora caves • Aurangabad


about the place, Ellora caves:

The Ellora caves complex includes more than 100 cavities dug in the basalt. Among the 34 caves open to the public, 12 of them are Buddhist, 17 Hindu and 5 Jain. Each brings together statues of deities and mythologies that prevailed during the first millennium. Many were monasteries for the respective religions.

Cave nr 16, the Kailasha temple is the largest excavated monument in the world.



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Ellora caves, Maharashtra,India

Ellora Caves