Visiting Ellora Caves in India.
About Ellora Caves, near Aurangabad, Maharashtra State, India and how to get there.
The World Heritage Site at Ellora is around 25kms from the City of Aurangabad and features 34 "caves" which have been cut out from or into the rock face. The caves were created between the 5th and 10th centuries - there are 12 Buddhist Caves, 17 Hindu Caves and the remaining 5 are Jain. Most of the caves were in effect monasteries and contained sleeping and general living areas and kitchens - in some cases the inner rock has been extensively carved to give the impression of wooden supports and features.[ Click the thumbnails for a larger picture - use the back button to return to this page. ]
As far as getting there is concerned, most visitors will probably be staying at Aurangabad and come in from there. You may well be approached by auto-rickshaw drivers wanting to take you - obviously this is a much cheaper option than hiring a car and driver for the day. However the roads are very busy especially the first part in and out of Aurangabad - lots of heavy lorries and
buses - so not that comfortable in a tiny auto.
In addition the area around Ellora is extremely hilly and autos will certainly struggle especially if there are two passengers. Hotels in Aurangabad will probably offer a car and driver for some silly amount so ask the desk people for the phone number of a local driver or simply approach an outside taxi driver - the day trip will almost
certainly be much cheaper. A day trip to Ellora Caves can also be combined with a look round the excellent Daulatabad Fort
since the latter is on the way to Ellora.
For anyone concerned about going deep into "caves" - Ellora Caves are quite shallow in most cases - this is not somewhere where you have to go waiy into a mountainside or deep underground. In fact one of the best caves (16) was cut and carved out from the cliff-face
top down and so is open to the elements. Entrance to Ellora Caves is 250 Rupees for non-Indians and it is important to note that the area is closed on Tuesdays.
Ellora Caves - The Buddhist Caves which are numbered from 1 to 12. The Buddhist temples and caves were carved during the 6th and 7th centuries - cave 10 is also known as the Vishwakarma and was carved in a smilar design to a couple of the Ajanta Caves - namely the ribbed roof design. Caves 2, 5 and 10 are really the only ones in the sequence to remain in any
sort of reasonable condition - the others are pretty much empty and well worn. Several of the caves have two or more stories and the carved verandah at Cave 10 is particularly well carved. Both caves 5 and 10 contain a large Buddha statue.
Cave 5 Buddha
Cave 5 Hall
Cave 10 Buddha
Cave 10 ceiling
Cave 10 verandah
Ellora Hindu caves are numbered from 14 to 29. Dedicated to Vishnu and known as the Dasavatara Cave, Cave 15 is thought to have been carved out in the 8th century. Entry is gained via a gate cut into the rock. The inner courtyard contains a raised square shaped Natya Mandap (Hall of Dance) and to the rear is the main two floor structure which huge square shaped pillars. The upper area is dedicated to Shiva and contains several compartments - with plenty of rock carvings
and sculptures all round.
Cave 14 pillars
Cave 15 Vishnu
Cave 15 Vishnu
Cave 15 Shiva dancing
Cave 15 Vishnu
Cave 16 - known as the Kailasha is actually the first cave that you will see when stopping off at the car-park -
then you head off to see the rest of this group i.e. 15 ->. Carved out of the rock face top downwards (i.e. it is open air so not really a "cave" - it is easily the most magnificent of the caves to look round at Ellora, apparently taking over 200 years to complete. Work on the temple was commenced under King Dantidurga and continued during the reign of Krishna.
It contains a main shrine, Nandi shrine, a gateway, surrounding cloisters and smaller shrines. Known as Rang-Mahal, originally the entire rectangular shaped temple was plastered and then painted - it sits on a 7 metre high plinth which is lined with full size sculptures of elepants, mythical animals and friezes. Within the main temple there are Mandapa, a pillared hall, antichamber and small sanctum which is surround by five small Panchayatana (shrines). Aankesvara temple is carved into the northern edge and this is dedicated to Siva
and has a pillared hall, antichamber, sanctum and shrine. The outside parapet wall has a frieze showing amorous couples.
Cave 16 Mandapa
Cave 16 mythical animals
Cave 16 Nandi Pavillion
Cave 16 Obelisk
Cave 16 Sacrifice Hall
The Jain Caves at Ellora which are numbered 30 to 34. These Jain Caves are excellent to look round and contain some of the best carvings to be found at Ellora - especially caves 32 and 33. Cave 32 was carved somewhere between the 10th and 11th centuries - generally known as the Indra Sabha because a figure of Matanga (The God of Wealth) was originally thought to be that of Indra.
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