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Ajanta Caves

The Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra state of India are about 30 rock-cut Buddhist cave
monuments which date from the 2nd century BCE to about 480 or 650 CE.[1][2] The caves include paintings and
sculptures described by the government Archaeological Survey of India as "the finest surviving examples of
Indian art, particularly painting",[3] which are masterpieces of Buddhist religious art, with figures of the Buddha
and depictions of the Jataka tales.[4] The caves were built in two phases starting around the 2nd century BCE,
with the second group of caves built around 400–650 CE according to older accounts, or all in a brief period of
460 to 480 according to the recent proposals of Walter M. Spink.[5] The site is a protected monument in the care
of the Archaeological Survey of India,[6] and since 1983, the Ajanta Caves have been a UNESCO World Heritage
With the Ellora Caves, Ajanta is the major tourist attraction of the Marathwada region of Maharashtra. About 59
kilometres (37 miles) from Jalgaon railway station on the Delhi – Mumbai line and Howrah-Nagpur-Mumbai
line of the Central Railway zone, and 104 kilometres (65 miles) from the city of Aurangabad. They are 100
kilometres (62 miles) from the Ellora Caves, which contain Hindu and Jain temples as well as Buddhist caves,
the last dating from a period similar to Ajanta. The Ajanta caves are cut into the side of a cliff that is on the south
side of a U-shaped gorge on the small river Waghur,[7] and although they are now along and above a modern
pathway running across the cliff they were originally reached by individual stairs or ladders from the side of the
river 10–35 m (30–110 ft) below.[8]
The area was previously heavily forested, and after the site ceased to be used the caves were covered by jungle
until accidentally rediscovered in 1819 by a British officer on a hunting party. They are Buddhist monastic
buildings, apparently representing a number of distinct "monasteries" or colleges. The caves are numbered 1 to
28 according to their place along the path, beginning at the entrance. Several are unfinished and some barely
begun and others are small shrines, included in the traditional numbering as e.g. "9A"; "Cave 15A" was still
hidden under rubble when the numbering was done.[9] Further round the gorge are a number of waterfalls, which
when the river is high are audible from outside the caves.[10]
The caves form the largest corpus of early Indian wall-painting; other survivals from the area of modern India are
very few, though they are related to 5th-century paintings at Sigiriya in Sri Lanka.[11] [12] The elaborate
architectural carving in many caves is also very rare, and the style of the many figure sculptures is highly local,
found only at a few nearby contemporary sites, although the Ajanta tradition can be related to the later
HinduEllora Caves and other sites.[13]

Like the other ancient Buddhist monasteries, Ajanta had a large emphasis on teaching, and was divided into
several different caves for living, education and worship, under a central direction. Monks were probably
assigned to specific caves for living. The layout reflects this organizational structure, with most of the caves only
connected through the exterior. The 7th-century travelling Chinese scholar Xuanzang informs us that Dignaga, a
celebrated Buddhist philosopher and controversialist, author of well-known books on logic, lived at Ajanta in the
5th century. In its prime the settlement would have accommodated several hundred teachers and pupils. Many
monks who had finished their first training may have returned to Ajanta during the monsoon season from an
itinerant lifestyle.
The caves are generally agreed to have been made in two distinct periods, separated by several centuries.
Caves of the first (Satavahana) period[edit]
The earliest group of caves consists of caves 9, 10, 12, 13 and 15A. According to Walter Spink, they were made
during the period 100 BCE to 100 CE, probably under the patronage of the Satavahana dynasty (230 BCE – c.
220 CE) who ruled the region.[14] Other datings prefer the period 300 BCE to 100 BCE, though the grouping of
the earlier caves is generally agreed.[15] More early caves may have vanished through later excavations. Of
these, caves 9 and 10 arestupa halls of chaitya-griha form, and caves 12, 13, and 15A are vihāras (see the
architecture section below for descriptions of these types). The first phase is still often called
the Hinayāna phase, as it originated when, using traditional terminology, the Hinayāna or Lesser Vehicle
tradition of Buddhism was dominant, when the Buddha was revered symbolically.[16] However the use of the term
Hinayana for this period of Buddhism is now deprecated by historians; equally the caves of the second period
are now mostly dated too early to be properly called Mahayana, and do not yet show the full expanded cast of
supernatural beings characteristic of that phase of Buddhist art. The first Satavahana period caves lacked
figurative sculpture, emphasizing the stupa instead, and in the caves of the second period the overwhelming
majority of images represent the Buddha alone, or narrative scenes of his lives.
Ellora Caves
Ellora (\e-ˈlȯr-ə\, Kannada: ಎಎಎಎಎಎಎ)also known as Verul (Marathi: ಎಎಎಎಎ, Vē rū ḷ) is an archaeological site
29 km (18 mi) north-west of the city of Aurangabad in the Indian state of Maharashtra, built by the Rashtrakuta
dynasty(Brahmanical & Buddhist group of caves ) and Yadav (Jain group of caves). It is also known as Elapura
in the Rashtrakuta Kannadaliterature. Well known for its monumental caves, Ellora is an UNESCO World
Heritage Site and forms one of major tourist attraction in Marathwada region of Maharashtra[1] Ellora represents
the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture.[2] The 34 "caves" are actually structures excavated out of the vertical
face of the Charanandri hills. Hindu, Buddhist and Jainrock-cut temples and viharas and mathas were built
between the 5th century and 10th century. The 17 Hindu (caves 13–29), 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12) and 5 Jain
(caves 30–34) caves, built in proximity, demonstrate the religious harmony prevalent during this period of Indian
history.[3] It is a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India.[4]

Ellora, also called Verul or Elura, is the cave form of the Ancient name Elapura.[5]

Ellora is known for Hindu, Buddhist and Jain cave temples built during (6th and 9th centuries) the rule of
the Kalachuri,Chalukya and Rashtrakuta dynasties. The Jagannatha Sabha a group of five Jain cave temples of
9th century built byRashtrakuta.[6] Verul Ellora is around 28 km from Aurangabad, 450 km from Nagpur, 400 km
from Mumbai, 150 km from Jalgaon & 200 km from Buldhana.

The Hindu caves[edit]

The Hindu caves were constructed between the middle of sixth century to the end of the eighth century. The
early caves (caves 17–29) were constructed during the Kalachuri period. The work first commenced in Caves
28, 27 and 19. These were followed by two most impressive caves constructed in the early phase - Caves 29
and 21. Along with these two, work was underway at Caves 20 and 26, and slightly later at Caves 17, 19 and
28.[7] The caves 14, 15 and 16 were constructed during the Rashtrakuta period. The work began in Caves 14 and
15 and culminated in Cave 16.[7] All these structures represent a different style of creative vision and execution
skills. Some were of such complexity that they required several generations of planning and co-ordination to
The Kailasanatha temple[edit]
Cave 16, also known as the Kailasa temple, is the unrivaled centerpiece of Ellora. This is designed to
recallMount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva – looks like a freestanding, multi-storeyed temple complex, but it
was carved out of one single rock, and covers an area double the size of Parthenon in Athens.[8] Initially the
temple was covered with white plaster thus even more increasing the similarity to snow-covered Mount Kailash.
All the carvings are done in more than one level. A two-storeyed gateway resembling a South
Indian Gopuraopens to reveal a U-shaped courtyard. The courtyard is edged by columned galleries three
storeys high. The galleries are punctuated by huge sculpted panels, and alcoves containing enormous
sculptures of a variety of deities. Originally flying bridges of stone connected these galleries to central temple
structures, but these have fallen.
Within the courtyard are three structures. As is traditional in Shiva temples, the first is a large image of the
sacred bull Nandi in front of the central temple. The central temple - Nandi Mantapa or Mandapa - houses the
Lingam. The Nandi Mandapa stands on 16 pillars and is 29.3 m high. The base of the Nandi Mandapa has been
carved to suggest that life-sized elephants are holding the structure aloft. A living rock bridge connects the Nandi
Mandapa to the Shiva temple behind it. The temple itself is a tall pyramidal structure reminiscent of a South
Indian Dravidian temple. The shrine – complete with pillars, windows, inner and outer rooms, gathering halls,
and an enormous lingam at its heart – carved from living stone, is carved with niches, pilasters, windows as well
as images of deities, mithunas (erotic male and female figures) and other figures. Most of the deities at the left of
the entrance are Shaivaite (followers of Shiva) while on the right hand side the deities
are Vaishnavaites (followers of Vishnu). There are two Dhvajastambhas (pillars with the flagstaff) in the
courtyard. The grand sculpture of Ravana attempting to lift Mount Kailasa, the abode of Lord Shiva, with his full
might is a landmark in Indian art. The construction of this cave was a feat of human genius – it entailed the
removal of 200,000 tonnes of rock, and took 100 years to complete.
Qutb Minar
Qutub Minar,[1][2] at 74 meters, is the tallest brick minaret in the world, and the second tallest minar in India
after Fateh Burj at Mohali. Qutub Minar, along with the ancient and medieval monuments surrounding it, form
the Qutb Complex, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[2][3][3] The tower is located in the Mehrauli area
of Delhi, India. Made of red sandstone and marble, Qutub Minar is a 73 meter (240 feet) tall tapering tower with
a diameter measuring 14.32 meters (47 feet) at the base and 2.75 meters (9 feet) at the peak.[4] Inside the tower,
a circular staircase with 379 steps leads to the top.[5]Qutub Minar station is the closest station on the Delhi Metro.
In 1200 CE, Qutub-ud-Din Aibak, the founder of the Delhi Sultanate started construction of the Qutub Minar. In
1220, Aibak's successor and son-in-law Iltutmish added three storeys to the tower. In 1369, lightning struck the
top storey, destroying it completely and Firoz Shah Tughlaq carried out restoration work replacing the damaged
storey with two new storeys, made of red sandstone and white marble.[6][7]
Qutub Minar is surrounded by several historically significant monuments, which are historically connected with
the tower and are part of the Qutb Complex. These include the Iron Pillar of Delhi, Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque,
Alai Darwaza, the Tomb of Iltutmish, Alai Minar, Ala-ud-din's Madrasa and Tomb, and the Tomb of Imam Zamin.
Other minor monuments include Major Smith's Cupola and Sanderson's Sundial.[2][3]

The construction of Qutub Minar was commissioned by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak, the founder of the Delhi
Sultanate in 1199 AD. The minar was built on the ruins of the Lal Kot, the Red Citadel in the city
of Dhillika.[8] Aibak's successor Iltutmish added three more storeys to complete the tower.
It has not been established with certainty whether Qutub Minar has been named after Qutbu l-Din Aibak, the
emperor who commissioned its construction or Qutbuddin Bakhtiar kaki, the famous Sufi saint.[4]
The culture of tower architecture was established in India before the arrival of the Turks. However, there is no
evidence on record to confirm that the Qutb Minar was inspired or influenced by
earlier Rajput towers.[9] Numerous inscriptions in Parso-Arabic and Nagari characters in different sections of the
Qutb Minar reveal the history of its construction. According to the inscriptions on its surface it was repaired by
Firoz Shah Tughlaq (1351–89) and Sikandar Lodi[10] (1489–1517).
The Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, located to the north of Qutb Minar, was built by Qutbu l-Din Aibak in 1192. It is
one of the earliest surviving mosque in the Indian subcontinent.[11][12] Later, an arched screen was erected and the
mosque was enlarged by Iltutmish (1210–35) and Ala-ud-din Khilji.
The topmost storey was damaged by lightning in 1368 A.D. and was rebuilt by Firoz Shah Tughlaq. Firoz Shah
Tughlaq built two floors one of which can be distinguished easily as it was built of white marble. In 1505, an
earthquake damaged Qutb Minar and the damage was repaired by Sikandar Lodi. On 1 August 1803, a major
earthquake again caused serious damage to Qutb Minar. Major Robert Smith of the British Indian Army
renovated the tower in 1828 and installed a cupola to the top of Qutb Minar. The cupola was later taken down
under instructions from Lord Hardinge, then Governor General of India and was installed to the east of Qutb
Minar, where it rests now.[13]

The Minar is made of red sandstone covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Qur'an. The Minar
comprises several superposed flanged and cylindricalshafts, separated be balconies carried
on Muqarnas corbels. The first three storeys are made of red sandstone; the fourth and fifth storeys are of
marble and sandstone. At the foot of the tower is the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque. The minar tilts just over 60 cm
from the vertical, which is considered to be within safe limits, although experts have stated that monitoring is
needed in case rainwater seepage further weakens the foundation.[7]
The nearby 7 meters high Iron Pillar from Gupta empire is a metallurgical curiosity. The pillar standing in
the Qutb complex has Brahmic inscriptions on it and predates the Islamic minar.[3]

Before 1974, the general public was allowed access to the top of the minar accessed through a narrow
staircase. On 4 December 1981, 45 people were killed in the stampede that followed an electricity failure that
plunged the tower's staircase into darkness. Most of the victims were children because, at the time school
children were allowed free access to historical monuments on Fridays. Subsequently, public access to the inside
of the tower has been banned.
Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal (/ˌtɑːdʒ məˈhɑːl/, more often /ˈtɑːʒ/;[2] from Persian and Arabic, "crown of
palaces",pronounced [ˈt̪aːdʒ mɛˈɦɛl]) is a white marble mausoleum located on the southern bank of
the Yamuna River in theIndian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah
Jahan (reigned 1628–1658) to house the tomb of his favorite wife of three, Mumtaz Mahal.
Construction of the mausoleum was essentially completed in 1643 but work continued on other phases
of the project for an additional ten years. The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed
in its entirety in 1653 at a cost estimated at the time to be around 32 million Indian rupees, which in
2015 would be valued at around 52.8 billion Indian rupees ($827 million US). The construction project
employed around 20,000 artisans under the guidance of a board of architects led by Ustad Ahmad
Lahauri. The domed marble tomb is part of an integrated complex consisting of gardens and two red-
sandstone buildings surrounded by a crenellated wall on three sides.
The Taj Mahal is regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture and is widely
recognized as "the jewel of Muslim art in India". It is one of the world’s most celebrated structures and
a symbol of India’s rich history. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, the Taj Mahal
attracts some 3 million visitors a year. On 7 July 2007 it was declared one of the Seven winners
of New7Wonders of the World (2000–2007) initiative in Lisbon.

In 1631, Shah Jahan, emperor during the Mughal empire's period of greatest prosperity, was grief-
stricken when his favorite of three wives and beloved companion, Mumtaz Mahal, a Persian princess,
died during the birth of their 14th child, Gauhara Begum.[3] Construction of the Taj Mahal began in
1632.[4] The court chronicles of Shah Jahan's grief illustrate the love story traditionally held as an
inspiration for Taj Mahal.[5][6] The principal mausoleum was completed in 1643[4] and the surrounding
buildings and garden were finished about five years later.

Architecture and design

Main article: Origins and architecture of the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal incorporates and expands on design traditions of Persian and earlier Mughal
architecture. Specific inspiration came from successful Timurid and Mughal buildings including;
the Gur-e Amir (the tomb of Timur, progenitor of the Mughal dynasty, in Samarkand),[7] Humayun's
Tomb, Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb (sometimes called the Baby Taj), and Shah Jahan's own Jama
Masjid in Delhi. While earlier Mughal buildings were primarily constructed of red sandstone, Shah
Jahan promoted the use of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones. Buildings under his
patronage reached new levels of refinement.[8]
Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal

The tomb is the central focus of the entire complex of the Taj Mahal. It is a large, white marble
structure standing on a square plinth and consists of a symmetrical building with an iwan (an arch-
shaped doorway) topped by a large dome and finial. Like most Mughal tombs, the basic elements are
Persian in origin.[9]
The base structure is a large multi-chambered cube with chamfered corners forming an unequal eight-
sided structure that is approximately 55 metres (180 ft) on each of the four long sides. Each side of the
iwan is framed with a hugepishtaq or vaulted archway with two similarly shaped arched balconies
stacked on either side. This motif of stackedpishtaqs is replicated on the chamfered corner areas,
making the design completely symmetrical on all sides of the building. Four minarets frame the tomb,
one at each corner of the plinth facing the chamfered corners. The main chamber houses the
false sarcophagi of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan; the actual graves are at a lower level. [10]