1. Good pair of walking shoes.
2. Carry plenty of water & a few eatables.
3. Carry a torch. Some caves are rather dark inside.
4. Take a tripod along as no flash allowed inside the caves. A shutter release cord is a bonus.
5. Place camera on even surface of floor of the cave to click photos of ceiling. Put camera on self-timer mode.
6. Click signboard of cave number and literature before entering the cave. That way, later on, you’ll know which photo belongs to which cave.
8. See Cave 16 (Kailashnath) at the end of your tour. Save the best for the last. Don’t listen to the guide (guide is optional) who insist on their own preferences of the caves.
First Written: Apr. 12, 2012
The 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 art.
Simply put, it is impossible to know just what you are missing if you do not see Kailas, cave 16, from the top.
Between Kailas and cave 15 there is a trail which leads up. As you ascend this trail and the sight of the highest dome creeps in to your vision, you are left awestruck.
Caves are open from 6am to 6pm. Get there as early as you can, for how glorious it might be to see the dawn reveal Kailas from your high summit is beyond me.
One day is enough to see all the caves but you might feel to stay longer just to keep enjoying that wondrous sense of calm the place can evoke.
It is a pretty common thing around the globe for old statues and temples to get defaced by the subsequent conquering forces. (who where typically of a different religious persuasion than the builders) One common practice was to smash the nose off of a statue as a show of contempt .
But what to do with a Jain temple, where there are typically so many images of the monks parading about with their trousers off. (These guys didnt go much for the clothed body...)
In this case, guess it was judged that the nose was not the only appendage that had to be removed. Look closely and you will see that this poor fella's nose was not the only bodily part to be faced....