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The Ancients India

Ajanta Caves
20° 33′ 8.56″ N, 75° 42′ 1.57″ E ..

Location of Ajanta Caves in India

Ajanta Caves
The Ajanta Caves (Ajiṇṭhā leni; Marathi: ), Maharashtra, India are 29 rock-cut cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BCE. The caves include paintings and sculptures considered to be masterpieces of both Buddhist religious art (which depict the Jataka tales)[1] as well as frescos which are reminiscent of the Sigiriya paintings in Sri Lanka.[2] The caves were built in two phases starting around 200 BCE, with the second group of caves built around 600 CE.[3] Since 1983, the Ajanta Caves have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The caves are located in the Indian state of Maharashtra, near Jalgaon, just outside the village of Ajinṭhā(20°31′56″N 75°44′44″E / 20.53222°N 75.74556°E / 20.53222; 75.74556). Caves are only about 59 kilometers from Jalgaon Railway station (on Delhi - Mumbai, Rail line of the Central railways, India); and 104 kilometers from Aurangabad (From Ellora Caves 100 Kilometers).


7. 3.Ten.Ajanta caves. 5. 6. 4. First period Second period Rediscovery by Europeans Cave One Cave Two Cave Four Cave Five. 8. Eleven . 2. Six & Seven Cave Nine. Maharashtra Contents: 1.

Cave twenty one. References 15. Cave Seventeen 11. External links 1.. First Period The first sanctuaries (known as chaytia-grihas) were built during the Satavahana dynasty in the canyons of the Waghora River. Cave Sixteen 10.9. See also 14. Literature 16. Murals preserved from this time belong to India 2. Second Period . Caves eighteen and nineteen 12. twenty four. . twenty six & twenty seven 13.

During the intervening centuries. from 460 to 480 CE.Overview map of Ajanta Caves. Spink declared that most of the work took place over short time period. Date 21 March 2010 by Daarznieks Scholars disagree about the date of the Ajanta Caves' second period. For a time it was thought that the work was done over a long period from the fourth to the 7th century AD. the jungle . the Ajanta Caves appear to have been abandoned shortly after the fall of Harishena c. Some 20 cave temples were simultaneously created. during the reign of Emperor Harishena of the Vakataka dynasty. for the most part viharas: monasteries with a sanctuary in the structure's rear centre. According to Spink. but recently long-time researcher Walter M. these temples have been abandoned and gradually forgotten. Each of cave temples seem to be patronised by influential authority. numerous best available artists have been involved in the work with fruitful rivalry between the neighbouring construction sites. Since then. 480 CE.

John Smith. larger. a British officer for the Madras Presidency. Still faintly visible.. the Ajanta Caves became renowned for their exotic setting. accidentally discovered the entrance to one of the cave temples (Cave No. 3. it records his name and the date. unvisited and undisturbed. Shortly after this discovery. Cave One . Exploring that first cave. impressive architecture. April 1819. historic artwork.grew back and the caves were hidden. . and long-forgotten history. animals. Rediscovery by Europeans On 28 April 1819. Captain Smith wrote his name in pencil on one of the walls. long since a home to nothing more than birds and bats and a lair for other. while hunting tiger. 9) deep within the tangled undergrowth. 4.

A dominant reason for this is that Harisena was not involved initially in patronizing Ajanta..V c.Painting of Padmapani from Ajanta Cave No. . 1 . it has been proposed that the Vākāţaka king Harisena may have been the benefactor of this betterpreserved cave. it is one of the latest caves to have begun on site and brought to near-completion in the Vākāţaka phase. According to Spink. Although there is no epigraphic evidence. 450-500 The first cave was built on the eastern end of the horse-shoe shaped scarp. .

1 .Painting of Vajrapani from Ajanta Cave No.

Porch of Cave 1 by RK Singh . The absence of pillared vestibules on the ends suggest that the porch was not excavated in the latest phase of Ajanta when pillared vestibules had become a necessity and norm. These have a high plinth level. There are three doorways: a central doorway and two side doorways. A two pillared portico. There are scenes carved from the life of the Buddha as well as a number of decorative motifs. . Most areas of the porch were once covered with murals. The cave has a porch with simple cells on both ends. Two square windows were carved between the doorways to brighten the interiors.. has since perished. The cave has a front-court with cells fronted by pillared vestibules on either side.This cave has one of the most elaborate carvings on its facade with relief sculptures on entablature and ridges. of which many fragments remain. visible in the 19th-century photographs.

the life of the Gautama Buddha. There are four cells on each of the left. 5. and those of his veneration. . and the right walls. his hands being in the dharmachakrapravartana mudra.1 m) high. rear. Twelve pillars make a square colonnade inside supporting the ceiling. devotional. Cave Two .. There is a shrine carved on the rear wall to house an impressive seated image of the Buddha. The themes are from the Jataka stories (the stories of the Buddha's former existences as Bodhisattva). and creating spacious aisles along the walls. and ornamental.Each wall of the hall inside is nearly 40 feet (12 m) long and 20 feet (6. The walls are covered with paintings in a fair state of preservation. The scenes depicted are mostly didactic.

is known for the paintings that have been preserved on its walls. The size and ground plan have many things in common with the first cave. The cave is supported by robust pillars. Cave No. adjacent to Cave 1. . and pillars. ceilings. It looks similar to Cave 1 and is in a better state of preservation. The Facade Cave 2 has a porch quite different from Cave one. 2 by Jonathanawhite Cave 2. ornamented with designs.Painting. Even the facade carvings seem to be different.

Porch-end cells became a trend in all .. Ajanta Caves Porch of Cave 2 by Jonathanawhite The Porch The front porch consists of cells supported by pillared vestibules on both ends. The cells on the previously "wasted areas" were needed to meet the greater housing requirements in later years..

human. vegetative.. . Each arm or colonnade of the square is parallel to the respective walls of the hall. They depict the Jataka tales that are stories of the Buddha's life in former existences as Bodhisattva. The simple single cells on porch-ends were converted into CPVs or were planned to provide more room. which allows entrance to the hall. The colonnades have rock-beams above and below them. and semi-divine forms. symmetry. The porch's rear wall has a doorway in the center.later Vakataka excavations. animal. The paintings on the ceilings and walls of this porch have been widely published. The capitals are carved and painted with various decorative themes that include ornamental. . making an aisle in between. The Hall The hall has four colonnades which are supporting the ceiling and surrounding a square in the center of the hall. On either side of the door is a square-shaped window to brighten the interior. and beauty.

Painting from the Ajanta caves .

. India . . ..6. Cave Four . : Ajanta buddha statue Aurangabad Maharastra.

Six & Seven Cave 5 The T-shaped porched doorway is the only feature because the scooping did not go beyond it. only enlivened by the gestures of his hand and the flying couples above him. The ceiling was obviously painted.The rear wall of the verandah contains the panel of Litany of Avalokiteśvara" 7. in a rigid pose. 8. there are attendants Buddha.The sanctum houses a colossal image of Lord buddha in preaching pose flanked by Bodhisattvas and celestial nymphs hovering above. and the calm on the face suggest a devote worshipper.An inscription on the pedestal of the buddha's image mentions that it was a gift from a person named Mathura and paleographically belongs to 6 th century A. Cave Five. unlike the pillars of other caves. The couple in the medallion is skillfully carved. sanctum with an antechamber and a series of unfinished cells. Cave Nine. which have capitals and bases.Lord buddha in preaching pose flanked by Bodhisattvas. or wanted stable supports. He is sitting with his feet squat on the base. The folds of the garment. Eleven . There could be circumambulation around the Buddha's shrine. done about 5th century. is almost like a relief. There is a Buddha image in the lower cave 6. There is a medallion in this cave in the colonnade of the shrine vestibule. This is a late cave. Cave 4. The exuberant carvings are evident here and the jambs and the lintems seem to be of later century.D. There is the rhythmic vitality in the line and boldness of drawing. Cave 7 The verandah of this cave must at one time have been elaborate. The carving is simple. The simple octagonal pillars are bare. instead of attendant bodhisattavas. Ten. a hypostylar hall. Ajanta "This is the largest monastery planned on a grandiose scale but was never finished.. The painting is almost like a sculpture. The sculptors were probably copying wooden prototypes. but the medallion itself is conventional. so they included one central pillar in their lower story. The porch doorway is simple with not much carved decoration except attached female figures. . the rounded belly. Cave 6 This was the first important cave of the Mahayana phase. It consists of a verandah . There extensions at the end of the front and the rear aisles to enable pilgrims to circumambulate the Buddha's throne. Bhikshu with Lotus : The painting of Bhikshu in this cave in the middle. because.

9 in Ajanta Caves. Date 23 December 2010(2010-12-23) .by Marcin Białek Cave 9 This cave has a Chaitya gathering hall. Frieze Of Animals And . India. which survive. There are two early paintings.Cave no.

SHAD-DANTA JATAKA: On the right wall are the series of large wall paintings. 9. It has a stupa shrine at the ambulating passage around the symbolic stupa. The face and figure of the Buddha here as well as of the monk seem to be echoes of the heavy physical types of Gandhara art of northwest India. with its thick foliage and trees. The aureole on the buddha's head and the closed eyes show a dreamy calm. is contrasted to the houses on the side. which is supposed to be a previous incarnation of the Buddha. This means a compromise between stupa worship and image worship. Cave 10 This is of about the same time as cave 9. because the six tusks of the elephant are brought to the king.5m X 12. because it shows the transition from the earlier Hinayana to the later Mahayana Buddhist phase of worship. the princess. The gracious figure in the pink and buff cloak surrounded by green aureole is emerging to cast blessings on mankind. The painting on the left wall shows the King with his Retinue. is shown fainting. King With His Retinue: The paintings in this cave show resemblance with the relief carvings at sanchi in central India of the 2nd century BC.Herdsmen Naga Worshippers Giant Horseshoe Window There is a Giant Horse-Shoe Window on the façade. CAVE 11 TRANSITION FROM HINAYANA TO MAHAYANA: The Buddha in shrine of cave 11 is one of the earliest images at Ajanta. It has a similar shape. The pillars and the slanting eight-sided columns are also copied from wooden structures of earlier times. SHYAMA JATAKA: The Shyama-Jataka on a wall in this cave relates the story of where the bodhisattava was born as son of two blind parents. The umbrella on the top is symbolic of the protection he offers to all. Only the flowing draperies have softened their contours. The round stupa has the images of the Buddha to its bare girth. PRINCESS AND TUSK: In the second scene. or 1st century CE. Cave Sixteen . BUDDHA AND THE ONE-EYED MONK: The painting Buddha and the one-eyed-monk show the devotion of the followers of the Enlightened one. The animals are beautifully drawn and the large space of the forests. The whole crowd is in movement. The queen has wished that the elephant be killed. This is a crowded scene. but each figure is clearly distinguished from the other. One shows the Shada-danta jataka. The drama is manifestly painted. has the simplicity. she faints at sight of them. The carving of this window suggests that it copied a wooden structure of the same time. with a six-tusked elephant. seated on a stool. The royal party stops at the stupa and then passes through a gateway. with the Buddha in his elephant incarnation. This cave is interesting. The important fact about this Buddha is that it is attached to a stupa. Now that his tusks are brought before the court. THE BUDDHISATTVA ON THE PILLAR: One of the earliest masterpieces of the 1st century BCE. Two monks kneel by his feet and the flying angels above his black head indicate that they are going to lift him to heaven. tenderness and grace of the early archaic art of Ajanta. The large chaitya gathering hall is 28. ELEPHANTAS IN JUNGLE: In one scene are shown Elephantas in the jungle. worshiping the Buddha tree. a hunter and his wife.3m wide and 11m high.

Notice the bent head of the princess and the tense female attendants. So some survivals of symptoms of floral and geometric paintings can be seen on pilasters. The T-shape shrine doorway has goddesses. Above are the seven Buddha's of the past with maitreya it seems the left side of the door was painted by different artists. The pillars near the shrine have intricate carvings. This shows the wife of Gautama's cousin. BUDDHA WITH A BEGGING BOWL: On another wall is the Buddha with a begging bowl PRINCE SIDDHARTH STRETCHING THE BOW: Still another painting shows Prince Siddharth Stretching the bow THE DECENT OF THE BUDDHA: The Descent of Buddha from the Tushita heaven is another masterly panel THE SUTASAMA JATAKA: The Sutasama Jataka narrates the story of the previous incarnation of the bodhisattva and the son of the king of indraprastha named sutasama. The prince promised him he would come back and be eaten after he had offered flowers to the Enlightened one. The Buddha in the shrine is seated in the Yogasana. One-day Sutasama was seized by a man-eating dacoit. Some great master paints the sad drama. The pillars in both the porch and interior are arranged in a strict order. This cave was in transition from Hinayana to Mahayana. in the panel above the doorway of this cave. There are bodhisattva attendants holding flywhisks. The cannibal was surprised to see Sutasama. And he did as he promised. or teaching gesture. All the pillars were painted. GIANT STATUE: There is a Giant Statue of Buddha in the abhayamudra. The plan of this cave is simple and severe. or teaching gesture. But the seated couples on both the doorjambs and lintels improve on cave 16. INDRA AND THE APSARAS: The famous painting Indra and the Apsaras. SHAD-DANTA JATAKA: There is another version of the Shaddanta jataka. His hands are held in the Dharmachakra mudra. The circumambulatory passage around the image shows it is a relatively early cave. supported by pilasters. Kalidasa at the 4th century CE. This cave gives a good view of the ravine. it is more than life size and fairly uncommon. The love of happiness radiates through the pictures. The pilasters at the right hand of the porch of this cave are fairly simple. Devotees appear with offerings. Nanda. with which it is contemporary. The Dying princess is suffering from the shock of hearing that her husband has become a monk. APSARAS AND FLYING SPIRITS: This large grotto has many paintings of the mature 5th century. Of course. There are six cells on each side. Cave Seventeen The porch doorway of cave 17 is similar to that of cave 16. using different colors from the apinter of the right half of the door. There are colorful umbrellas over their heads and trees in the background. DYING PRINCESS: One of the finest paintings in the world art is on left wall. The dwarfs bring garlands. All the paintings seem to illustrate the beauty of nature and human love and happiness as described by the poet of Ujjain. in the inner shrine. Some women are looking at them through the window. This doorway is highly decorative. Here two Goddesses stand on neatly carved pilasters The Buddha figure in the shrine is of about the same time as the Buddha in the shrine of the cave 6 (lower) and cave 11 as the Buddha in cave 16 seated with his heavy feet down the base. ROYAL PROCESSION: There is a magnificent painting showing a king and queen with their attendants going in a royal procession. Lions and other active animals support the throne. From the large verandha we enter a hall. The earth has become heaven. is a lovely fantasy. the later once are more complex. Bodhisattvas stand behind him. He who had once been a fellow student of the bodhisattva at Taxilla and then king of Benares was converted. Lovers sit in the air houses. which also . and he became a king of Benares again.The porch doorway of cave 16 set a pattern for the later doorway. The prince is trained in all the arts and sciences by a guru at Taxilla. The Apsars and the Flying Spirits float across the sky.

. who conquered Lanka. . rides on a white elephant at head of the army. PRINCE SIMHALA: Prince simhala.appears in cave 10. Caves Eighteen and Nineteen . THE BUDDHA RETURNS: The Buddha returns as a beggar and meets the wife and child in a poignant mood 10.


Chaitya Hall: This is also a Chaitya gathering hall of the 5th-6th century AD. The walls have relief carvings. Nanda and Anupananda are shown holding the stem of the lotus. There are small groups in the medallion.11. Pilaster: The pilaster at right end of porch elaborates piece of work. Temptation of Buddha: On the same wall. This miracle was based on the legend when the Buddha revealed himself in all his various forms on the skies above the village of Sravasti. The earliest pillars are simple. the round stupa is decorated. Cave Twenty one. The verandha opens in to a court. Also. There are various fine images of the Buddha sculpted with rare skill. The Buddhist calls this sleeping figure the Buddha in parinirvana. There is a colonnade inside. Cave 26 Chaitya Horseshoe Arch: The Chaitya horseshoe arch of this 5th century cave is imposing. Cave 24 Pillar style: Unfinished pillars of the front aisle are worth noting for the evolution of the pillar style. Anupananda: At the bottom of the relief. Post Mahayana period they were tapered into octagonal form. Nanda. even though the cave 24 remained unfinished. Twenty four. by the verandah. composed of 26 pillars. Twenty six & Twenty seven Cave 21 The interior view towards left aisle shows mature sense of the use of space. further ahead is a relief sculpture of Temptation of Buddha by the Demon Mara. This lotus is the cosmic axis on which the Buddha is seated. roughly shaped on four sides. Nagas. is the large statue of dead Buddha. the Nagas. One can go round the cylindrical stupa in circumambulation. Buddha in Parinirvana: On the left wall. She is standing under a fully . This forms the aisles. Porched Doorway Upper right corner: The splendid T-shaped doorway came very late in the 7th century. Goddess: There is a goddess on the bracket of the first pillar on left in the interior. Sravasti Miracle: The circumambulatory passage is full of them. The pillars are well carved and the remains of plaster show that there were paintings on the ceiling. The interior of the cave was left unfinished because patronage at Ajanta had ceased by that time. Mostly they represent the sravasti miracle.

Porched Doorway: The porched doorway of cave 27 is also derived from the shrine doorway of cave 2. Underneath is a lunette of a family group. Ellora Caves. Cave 27 Naga Dwarpala: There is a Naga Dwarpala on the outer flank of the shrine.Ajanta Caves. Aurangabad Caves o . Family group:There is a family group with profuse floral decoration around it. the carvings being not as firm as in cave 20. the Naga here is similar to a Naga Dwarpala in cave 20.blossomed tree. This cave follows many elements from cave 20. The decorations show the new fashion for splendor of the later centuries. For instance. which shows the ideal human family of that time. Buddha Head: There is a vital Buddha head with curly hair and large ear lobes in this cave. This is a late 6th century work.

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