The Caves of Ajanta, Ellora and Elephanta

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Introduction
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Built by Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monks as mountain retreats, India’s magnificent rock-cut
sanctuaries, monasteries and temples offer travelers an unrivaled cultural experience, transporting them back to the formative stage of art and architecture for India’s indigenous religions.
This Approach Guide serves as an ideal companion for travelers seeking a deeper understanding of
this fantastic landscape, profiling India’s three premier rock-cut religious sites: Ajanta (Buddhist),
Elephanta (Hindu) and Ellora (a mixture of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain).
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What’s in this guidebook
• Comprehensive look at rock-cut art and architecture. We provide an overview of India’s rock-cut art and architecture, isolating trademark features that you will see again and
again as you make your way through Ajanta, Elephanta and Ellora. To make things come alive,
we have packed our review with high-resolution images.
• A tour that goes deeper on the most important sites. Following our tradition of being
the most valuable resource for culture-focused travelers, we offer detailed tours of the most
impressive and representative caves at Ajanta, Elephanta and Ellora, walking step-by-step
through their distinctive artistic and architectural highlights. For each, we present information on its history, a detailed plan that highlights its most important architectural and artistic
features, high-resolution images and a discussion that ties it all together.
• Advice for getting the best cultural experience. To help you plan your visit, this guidebook supplies logistical advice, maps and links to online resources. Plus, we give our personal
tips for getting the most from your experience while on location.
• Information the way you like it. As with all of our guides, this book is optimized for intuitive, quick navigation; information is organized into bullet points to make absorption easy;
and images are marked up with text that explains important features.
Contact us anytime
Our readers are our greatest inspiration. Email us at [email protected] to let us know
about your experience with Approach Guides — many of our recent updates have been inspired by
customers like you. We personally respond to every email.
We hope that this cultural travel guidebook offers you fresh insights into India’s rock-cut art and
architecture and sets you on a path to making your own discoveries.
Have a great trip!
David and Jennifer Raezer
Founders, Approach Guides
www.approachguides.com
Continuing Travel in India
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Are you continuing on to see the Islamic highlights of Delhi and Agra, the tantra-infused Hindu
temples of Khajuraho, the Hindu temples in south India or the Buddhist ruins of Sri Lanka? See our
India guidebooks.
The Caves of India:
Ajanta, Ellora and Elephanta
Version 1.1
by David Raezer and Jennifer Raezer
© 2015 by Approach Guides
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, without permission in writing from the publisher (excluding Creative Commons images). Further, this book is licensed for
your personal enjoyment only and may not be resold or given away to other people.
Copyright, licensing and attribution information can be found in the metadata for all images and illustrations.
Approach Guides and the Approach Guides logo are trademarks of Approach Guides LLC. Other marks are the property
of their respective owners.
Although every effort was made to ensure that the information was as accurate as possible, we accept no responsibility
for any loss, damage, injury or inconvenience sustained by anyone using this guidebook.
Approach Guides
New York, NY
www.approachguides.com
ISBN: 978-1-936614-33-2
Contents
Introduction
Rock-Cut Architecture in India
TOURING ITINERARY
AJANTA
Background
Architecture Overview
Chaityas
Viharas
Paintings
Reliefs
Ajanta Map
Itinerary
Cave 1 *
Cave 2 *
Cave 4
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Chaitya Stupas
Cave 9
Cave 10 *
Cave 16 *
Cave 17 *
Cave 19 *
Cave 26 *
ELEPHANTA
Background
Map and Itinerary
The Cave’s Layout
Reliefs Overview
Reliefs Style
Featured Reliefs
1. Ravana Shakes Mount Kailasa
2. Shiva and Parvati Gambling
3. Androgyne
4. Sadashiva *
5. Ganges Descends to Earth *
6. Marriage of Shiva and Parvati *
8. Nataraja *
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7. Shiva Slays Andhaka *
9. Lord of Yogis
ELLORA
Background
Ellora Map
Itinerary
Buddhist Caves
Cave 5 - Maharwada
Cave 10 - Vishvakarma *
Cave 12 - Tin Tal
Hindu Caves
Cave 15 - Dashavatara *
Cave 16 - Kailasa *
Cave 21 - Rameshvara *
Cave 29 - Dhumar Lena
Jain Caves
Cave 32 - Indra Sabha *
LEGACY CONTINUES: CHINA
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More from Approach Guides
Rock-Cut Architecture in India
The Premier Sites for Indian Rock-Cut Architecture
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This Approach Guide explores the three premier sites for rock-cut architecture in India: Ajanta, Elephanta and Ellora. In doing so, it provides insight into the development of the Buddhist and Hindu
rock-cut architectural traditions (see Fig. 1), from their origins at Ajanta in the 2nd century BCE
through to their end at Ellora in the 9th century.
Fig. 1. Timeline of excavation activity for India’s rock-cut architecture.
Types of Stone Architecture
There are two types of stone architecture:
• Rock cut. The focus of this guidebook, rock-cut architecture is made by carving into natural
rock. Usually hewn into the sides of mountain ridges, rock-cut structures are made by excavating rock until the desired forms are achieved.
• Stone built. Stone-built architecture, on the other hand, involves assembling cut stone
pieces to form a whole.
Buddhism as Driving Force
Buddhism gets the ball rolling
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TOURING ITINERARY
View in Google Maps.
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AJANTA
Background
Author Tip: Ajanta is unique among India’s cave sites because it includes not only elements of
significant architectural interest, but also well-preserved 5th century wall paintings of a caliber
that is unrivaled in the history of Indian art.
Overview
Ajanta consists of 29 Buddhist caves (some unfinished), the grandest achievement of the first
wave of rock-cut architecture in India. The caves are clearly numbered from one to 29, moving
east to west; for a map of the site, see the section entitled “Ajanta Map.”
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The caves at Ajanta have served as the reference point for Indian architectural and artistic endeavors
throughout the centuries. Further, the styles initiated at Ajanta went on to influence cultures outside
of India, as Buddhism migrated out of India via the Silk Road to Central Asia, China and Southeast
Asia.
Two Distinct Excavation Phases
Cave excavation occurred in two distinct phases.
Early Phase caves
• Ajanta’s oldest caves date from the 2nd-1st centuries BCE under the Satavahana dynasty:
Caves 9 and 10 are chaitya halls; Caves 8, 12, 13 and 15A are viharas. All of these caves are
associated with the Theravada school of Buddhism.
• The location for these early excavations offered monks close proximity to an ancient trade
route that connected the Satavahana capital in Pratishtana (modern Paithan, just south of
Aurangabad), with trade ports on India’s western coast and cities in India’s north; Ellora was
also located on this same route.
Late Phase caves
• Excavations did not resume until five centuries later under the Vakataka dynasty’s King
Harisena, likely from 460-478; with Harisena’s death, and the subsequent collapse of the
Vakataka dynasty’s control of the region, construction at the site abruptly stopped at the end
of the 5th century. These caves are associated with the Mahayana school of Buddhism.
• All of the remaining caves date from this period: chaityas (Caves 19 and 26) and viharas
(Caves 1-7, 11, 14-18, 20-25 and 27-29) are both in evidence.
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Ajanta Map
Ajanta caves.
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Satellite view of Ajanta caves. See in Google Maps.
Itinerary
Visiting
• Location. The cave temples at Ajanta — located 100 kilometers northeast of Aurangabad
and 455 kilometers northeast of Mumbai — occupy a 0.6 kilometer curve in a southeast-facing horseshoe-shaped valley cut by the Waghora river.
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• Visiting hours. The site is open from 9am - 5:30pm. It is closed on Mondays. For more
information, visit the official website.
• Logistics. A shuttle bus takes all visitors from a staging point (called the T-Junction) to the
cave temples, approximately 5 km west. The locations for shuttle pickup and ticket purchase
are marked in our Google Map of the site.
• Viewpoint. Depending upon your fitness level and desire for a little exercise, it is also worth
considering a 30-minute trek to the “viewpoint,” which offers an unrivaled view of the entire
complex (also marked on our Google Map). To get there, look for the signs as you approach
the eastern entrance to the caves; it can also be accessed from inside the site by following the
steps in front of Caves 16 and 17 down to a footbridge.
This is a complete list of the nine Ajanta caves profiled in this guidebook. It represents our picks
for the premier caves in Ajanta. Next to each, we indicate its period (Early Phase or Late Phase), its
type (chaitya or vihara) and what makes it special.
Author Tip: To make things easier and allow you to focus on the real highlights, particularly
if you have limited time, we have marked those caves that we believe are must-sees with asterisks (*) .
Featured Caves
• Cave 1.* A Late Phase vihara, Cave 1 has the most dynamic, best-preserved paintings in
Ajanta.
• Cave 2.* A Late Phase vihara, it has good reliefs (in the secondary shrines) and high quality
paintings throughout.
• Cave 4. A Late Phase vihara, the largest in Ajanta, Cave 4 has impressive reliefs.
• Cave 9. Excavated in the Early Phase, Cave 9 is the simplest chaitya in Ajanta. Along with
Cave 10, it sets in motion quintessential Buddhist forms that would go on to influence all
future architecture — Buddhist, Hindu and Jain alike — in India.
• Cave 10.* An Early Phase chaitya, likely the first excavated cave in Ajanta, Cave 10 offers a
trademark Theravada stupa, detailed reliefs and deteriorated Early Phase paintings.
• Cave 16.* A Late Phase vihara, Cave 16 has its original entrance stairway (unique in Ajanta)
and a few high quality paintings.
• Cave 17 .* A Late Phase vihara, Cave 17 has a great collection of paintings; those that remain
on the exterior pillared gallery are particularly interesting, as they can be inspected in the full
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light of day.
• Cave 19.* A Late Phase chaitya, Cave 19 has a highly decorated facade, in contrast to the
plain facades of Early Phase chaityas; this is consistent with the move from Theravada to
Mahayana Buddhism. Inside, there is a fully intact stupa (the only one remaining with its
triple umbrella chattra).
• Cave 26.* A Late Phase chaitya, Cave 26 is the most stunningly decorated chaitya at Ajanta;
with an ornate facade and detailed all-over reliefs on the interior, it represents the culmination of the chaitya style begun nearly 700 years before.
Cave 1 *
Author Tip: The tour of Ajanta starts out with a bang at this cave, which gets our vote for
having Ajanta’s highest quality, best-preserved and well-lighted paintings. Spend as much
time in this cave as possible; this is Ajanta at its finest.
Background
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Cave 1, a vihara, was built in the middle of the 5th century, just after Cave 2; it corresponds to the
Late Phase of excavation and is Mahayana Buddhist in religious orientation. This cave is special in that it was sponsored by the great Vakataka King Harisena, under whom the Late
Phase of excavations at Ajanta was undertaken.
Fig. 14. Facade, view from inside the courtyard, Cave 1, Ajanta. Highlights added.
Facade
Cave 1’s facade has the most impressive decoration of any vihara at Ajanta.
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• On the delicately fluted central columns, miniature dwarves stand with arms raised
(yellow highlights in Fig. 14) on the four corners of the compressed cushion capitals, as if
supporting the massive brackets above.
• A frieze (green highlights in Fig. 14) running along the top of the open pillared gallery
depicts scenes from the life of the historical Buddha.
• Above the entrance to the left porch is a partially damaged frieze of the Three Signs: a
sick man, an old man and a corpse. As a young prince, the Buddha saw each of these on his
first journey outside the walls of his palace; these signs convinced him that all life is suffering, a realization that led him to become a monk and embark upon finding a solution this
predicament.
• The eaves — projecting out ever-so-slightly from the face of the facade — are decorated with
miniature chaitya arches, with faces of deities at their centers (light blue highlights in
Fig. 14), marking this cave as a residence of the gods.
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Fig. 15. Floorplan, Cave 1, Ajanta. Highlights added.
Layout
• Just beyond a small courtyard (light blue highlights in Fig. 15) and an open pillared
gallery (dark blue highlights in Fig. 15), three doorways lead into the central hall (green
highlights in Fig. 15).
• Inside, twenty square columns surround the square hall, with small cells — originally for
the monks to sleep and study — lining the periphery on the north, east and west sides; each
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has a miniature shrine in its rear (yellow highlights in Fig. 15). The open area inside the
columns was used as a prayer area.
• The columns — with compressed cushion capitals — support elaborate brackets with scenes
from the life of the historical Buddha; these scenes are flanked by flying apsaras (see Fig. 16).
• Through an antechamber (pink highlights in Fig. 15) on the side opposite the entrance,
a shrine room holds a seated Buddha image (red highlights in Fig. 15) displaying
dharmachakra (teaching) mudra.
Fig. 16. Columns with compressed cushion capitals and elaborate brackets, Cave 1, Ajanta.
Paintings
Cave 1 and 2 were likely the two last caves painted at Ajanta. While the paintings in Caves 2 and 17
are also world class, we believe this cave houses the most impressive 5th century paintings in the entire complex. Further, they are better preserved and illuminated, making them
even better for viewing.
The paintings line the walls around the central hall. The most important paintings are reviewed in
the order that they are encountered, beginning at the entrance and continuing in clockwise rotation
around the periphery of the central hall. To help focus your viewing, we mark our favorite frescoes with asterisks (*).
The overarching theme of Cave 1’s paintings centers on enlightened kingship; perhaps
this is attributable to the identity of the sponsor, King Harisena.
Front wall
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The Sibi Jataka covers the inside of the front (entrance) wall, to the left upon entering. The Sibi
Jataka tells the story of King Sibi, a prior incarnation of the Buddha, who protects a pigeon fleeing
a hawk. Sibi, recognizing the hawk’s right to kill the pigeon, agrees to give the hawk an equal weight
of his own flesh on the condition that it spare the pigeon’s life. The pigeon, when placed on a scale,
continues to increase in weight until it approaches that of the king himself. Nevertheless, King Sibi
keeps his word and prepares to die for the pigeon, revealing his divine quality of fairness. Look for
the crowned King Sibi standing next to the scale used to weigh the pigeon (see center of Fig. 17).
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Map and Itinerary
Fig. 64. Elephanta Island, Mumbai. See detailed satellite view in Google Maps.
Itinerary
We provide a detailed tour of the island’s premier site, the Great Cave, profiling its chief architectural
features and its world-class reliefs.
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Fig. 67. The two primary axes, Great Cave, Elephanta. Highlights added.
Two Primary Axes
The Great Cave’s new three-entrance layout naturally encouraged the introduction of two primary
axes (marked with red arrows in Fig. 67) along which devotees were encouraged to move; this
compares with the single-axis arrangements of earlier Buddhist excavations. Both axes in the Great
Cave direct devotees to abstract images of the presiding deity, Shiva.
East-to-west axis: the devotional axis
On the east-to-west axis, visitors enter through the eastern entrance and proceed toward the shrine
(green highlights in Fig. 67), at the center of which is a linga. The eastern entrance was likely
designed to be the cave’s principal one and the east-west alignment of the ceiling moldings
(between the columns) attests to its primacy.
We view the east-to-west axis as the devotional axis, as it leads the devotee to a direct interaction
with the Shiva linga — a direct manifestation of the deity — in his shrine. Such personal interaction
is the foundation of Hindu temple ritual. Along this axis, devotees move toward light, as the tem-
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ple’s west side is open; this serves to backlight and highlight the linga (see Fig. 68), infusing it with
an divine radiance.
Fig. 68. View from eastern entrance along east-west axis, Great Cave, Elephanta.
North-to-south axis: the didactic axis
On the north-to-south axis, devotees enter through the northern entrance (which serves
as the modern entrance) and proceed southward toward the temple’s most important relief,
that of Sadashiva (see yellow highlights in Fig. 67). See more on this image in the next section on
“Reliefs.”
We view this as the temple’s didactic axis, as visitors would engage with the Sadashiva relief to
learn of Shiva’s complex, opposing natures and contemplate their meanings. In opposition to the
east-to-west axis above, it represents a moving into mysterious darkness, as the Sadashiva relief lies
in the darkest spot in the cave, farthest from all entrances; darkness is symbolic of the infinite and
unknowable depths of divine consciousness.
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4. Sadashiva *
Fig. 75. Sadashiva, Great Cave, Elephanta.
Sadashiva — depicting the five aspects of Shiva — is the most important in the Great Cave
and the most visually striking. It is also known as Trimurti, meaning three-faced.
Style
From a stylistic standpoint, this represents the most advanced stage of Elephanta reliefs.
Sadashiva — carved so deep in relief and projecting so far from the back of the niche — takes on the
appearance of an in-the-round sculpture. As a result, the massive three-headed figure appears to be
rising from the basalt stone of the mountain itself.
Narrative
Sadashiva represents Shiva in his most enigmatic form, the embodiment of all the opposing forces in the universe. Shiva’s five aspects are: Aghora, Vamadeva, Tatpurusha, Sadyojata
and Ishana. Of these, only three are visible here:
• Aghora — represented by the male deity, Bhairava — faces east (the left side). It is symbolic
of the terrifying aspect of Shiva, in which he serves as the destructive, renovating force
of the universe. Aghora holds a serpent and is shown with serpent locks in his hair and a
snarling face.
• Vamadeva — represented by the female deity, Uma, the earth goddess — faces west (the
right side). It is symbolic of Shiva’s opposite aspect, that of the healing and preserving
force. Vamadeva is depicted with gentle features and holds a lotus flower.
• Tatpurusha faces north, directly at the visitor. It represents duality (manifest in Aghora
and Vamadeva, male and female) resolved into the unity of absolute knowledge, the
controlling and sustaining force of the universe. Tatpurusha naturally combines both
male and female facial characteristics; it holds a lemon in its left hand, symbolic of fecundity.
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The two others are not shown:
• Sadyojata — represented by Mahadeva — faces south, away from the viewer; its presence is
implied, as a fourth face could not be depicted in this arrangement. It represents the creative power of the universe.
• Finally, Ishana — Sadashiva itself — faces upwards and is Shiva’s supreme aspect, responsible for granting moksha (liberation) from the cycle of rebirths that accompanies enlightenment. This aspect is never depicted, as it lies beyond human comprehension.
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Ellora Map
Ellora caves.
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Satellite view of Ellora caves. See in Google Maps.
Itinerary
Visiting
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• Location. The 34 caves at Ellora — located 30 kilometers northwest of Aurangabad and 350
kilometers northeast of Mumbai — are spread out over 2.2 kilometers along a north-south
running escarpment; for the most part, caves face westward. Ellora was located on an ancient
trade route that connected the interior part of Maharashtra with trade ports on India’s western coast and cities in India’s north; Ajanta was one of the original sites on this same route.
• Visiting hours. The caves are open from 9am - 5:30pm. The site is closed on Tuesdays.
Tickets are purchased directly in front of Cave 16. For more information, visit the official website.
• Starting point. The car-shuttle dropoff location for most visitors is directly before Cave 16,
Kailasa (see our Google Map).
Featured Caves
Our tour of Ellora features the top cave sites, following the typical progression from south to north:
• Buddhist caves 1-12 (red highlights on our map);
• Hindu caves 13-29 (blue highlights)
• Jain caves 30-34 (green highlights).
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Fig. 85. Facade, Cave 10, Ellora. Highlights added.
Facade
Consistent with Ajanta’s Late Phase chaityas, Cave 10’s facade has abundant decoration.
• The columns on the lower level’s pillared gallery have square shafts. The capitals
consist of stylized pots, seemingly overflowing with foliage; they are symbolic of prosperity.
This is an early manifestation of this capital style; it will become significantly more elaborate
in later caves, particularly Caves 12 (Buddhist), 16 (Hindu) and 32 (Jain).
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• The upper hall has the classic chaitya window, resembling a 3/4 circle (green highlights
in Fig. 85). While its shape is consistent with Ajanta models, it is much smaller in
scale and therefore plays a smaller role in shaping the overall appearance of the
facade.
• Each side of the window is flanked by three flying apsaras above a twisting naga (serpent).
• There are two friezes, each decorated with a series of tightly framed scenes of
amorous couples in swaying, dynamic poses. The first is on the stone balustrade on the upper
level’s verandah (yellow highlights in Fig. 85) and the second is on the pediment of the upper
floor (red highlights in Fig. 85).
• The ceiling over the entrance to the upper level is decorated with stone ribs that imitate
earlier wooden beams (light blue highlights in Fig. 85).
Fig. 86. Floorplan, Cave 10, Ellora. Highlights added.
Layout
This two-level structure represents the ultimate expression of the Buddhist chaitya in
India:
• A large open courtyard (yellow highlights in Fig. 86) provides access, through a pillared
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gallery (light blue highlights in Fig. 86), to the interior of the chaitya.
• The apsidal-ended hall holds 28 octagonal columns that divide the space into a narrow
central nave (for prayer) and two side aisles (for circumambulation).
• The internal stupa (red highlights in Fig. 86) sits opposite the entrance; it is fronted by a
seated Maitreya Buddha, the Buddha of the Future.
• The upper floor, consisting of a verandah and a musicians’ gallery, is accessed through a
stairway on the left side of the pillared gallery.
Fig. 87. Frieze, Cave 10, Ellora.
Internal Decoration
The nave’s relief decoration is simpler than that of Late Phase Ajanta protoypes. Perhaps this was done to focus attention on the stupa’s primary Buddha figure (discussed next).
• The simple octagonal columns surrounding the stupa support undecorated brackets, a
step back from the ornate capitals of Ajanta.
• A frieze — again simpler than those of Late Phase Ajanta — runs above them (see Fig. 87). It
consists of seated Buddhas displaying the dharmachakra mudra; they are flanked by pairs of
attendants. At the Buddhas’ feet is a thin register of miniature figures, with arms raised, who
appear to be supporting the Buddhas’ platform; above, bridging the gap from the frieze to
the stone ribs of the ceiling, are stout figures, arms clasped to their chests in prayer.
• As is typical, the nave’s curved vault ceiling has stone ribs (see Fig. 88) that imitate earlier
wooden beams.
Ajanta and Ellora: Stupa Forms Compared
In the earlier discussion of Ajanta, we reviewed the changing form of the chaitya’s stupa, from its
Early Phase in the 1st and 2nd centuries BCE (under Theravada Buddhism) to its Late Phase in the
5th century CE (under Mahayana Buddhism). Altogether, this transformation yielded an increased emphasis on the Buddha image and a commensurate de-emphasis of the stupa; these
trends are consistent with the Mahayana school.
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Cave 10 basically continues the trend where it left off at Ajanta. Accordingly, it shares many features
with Ajanta’s most developed stupa arrangement, that of Late Phase Cave 26:
• The anda (green highlights in Fig. 88) is smaller and 3/4 egg shaped, like Cave 26,
rather than 3/4 sphere shaped like Early Phase versions. It sits on an elevated platform
(yellow highlights in Fig. 88), affording the overall structure greater upward momentum.
• The harmika (red highlights in Fig. 88) remains generally consistent with earlier prototypes.
• The Buddha is positioned boldly in front of the stupa. You will remember that
representations of the Buddha were not allowed in the early centuries of the faith under
Theravada Buddhism; only with the emergence of the Mahayana sect — this, the progressive
school of Buddhism, was formed in the 2nd century CE — did such representations begin.
Just as at Ajanta’s Cave 26, he is seated and displays the dharmachakra (teaching) mudra.
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Fig. 88. Stupa, Cave 10, Ellora. Highlights added.
Despite these similarities, Cave 10 goes a bit further, creating the most developed chaitya
stupa arrangement on Indian soil. The most notable change is the markedly increased size
of the Buddha figure. His scale is now massive, in sharp contrast to the more human-sized Buddhas in Ajanta; for comparison purposes, see Fig. 89 of Ajanta’s Cave 26.
Seated in a Western manner (both feet on the floor), he is flanked (for the first time) by attendants
and backed by a large Bodhi tree. Further, he is positioned in an even more forward, approachable position, as opposed to the enclosed position (under the stupa canopy) at Ajanta.
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Fig. 89. Stupa, Cave 26 (late 5th century), Ajanta. Highlights added.
These modifications further attest to the changed nature of ritual under the Mahayana
school of Buddhism: the worship of an abstract symbol (the stupa) is de-emphasized in favor of
a more concrete, identifiable Buddha figure, with whom the devotee can interact on a personal level.
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Continuing Travel in India?
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Are you continuing on to see the Islamic highlights of Delhi and Agra, the tantra-infused Hindu
temples of Khajuraho, the Hindu temples in south India or the Buddhist ruins of Sri Lanka? See our
India and Sri Lanka guidebooks.
India Reading List
We’ve re-imagined the travel reading list for those seeking more rewarding and fulfilling experiences
around the world. Explore our collection of “Trip Reads” — expertly-curated print books, ebooks,
magazine articles, papers from leading academics, online resources, music, podcasts, videos and
more.
Here are just a few of our India recommendations (see the complete list):
• 660 Curries Easy-to-follow recipes with curries from throughout India. Includes both traditional, regional and contemporary curries. By Raghavan Iyer.
• “Citizens Jain” Why India’s newspaper industry is thriving. By Ken Auletta.
• Sounds of India: Hindustani Listen to a playlist containing a personal collection of tracks
featuring North India’s signature Hindustani music compiled by our founder Jennifer Raezer.
The perfect pre-trip soundtrack.
• The Little Book of Hindu Deities Just for kids! Entertaining book that brings the gods,
goddesses, and stories of Hindu mythology to life. By Sanjay Patel.
We encourage you visit tripreads.com to get our Trip Reads for India and other destinations throughout the world. Enjoy your travels!
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ABOUT APPROACH GUIDES
Travel guidebooks for the ultra curious
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Exclusive focus on cultural sites. Currently available for over 60 destinations worldwide,
Approach Guides are focused exclusively on providing deep insight into your destination’s
best cultural sites and experiences.
Designed for digital. Guidebooks are designed from the ground up for digital, the ideal
format for today’s traveler.
More interactive and visually oriented. High-resolution images — maps, photos, floor
plans, and illustrations — are often marked up with text to ease identification of key architectural and artistic elements.
Organized to make touring easy. Featuring bullet points and fast navigation, Approach
Guides make it effortless to absorb key themes and follow the itinerary.
Advice for getting the best cultural experience. To help with planning, guidebooks offer logistical advice and provide links to online resources. Plus, we provide our personal tips
for getting the most from your experience while on location.
Free updates. All guidebooks are marked with version numbers; when we update a guidebook, existing customers can easily download the update for free.
Contact
Email us at [email protected]
Praise
Compulsive (and compulsively informed) travelers, the Raezers are the masterminds behind
the downloadable Approach Guides, which are filled with a university course-worth of history
and insights for 62 destinations worldwide. Why we love it. The Raezers share our desire for
deep, well-researched information on the wonders of the world.
Travel + Leisure
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What started as one couple’s travel notes aimed at filling in the gaps in guidebooks has become
ApproachGuides.com — a menu of downloadable travel guides that cover cultural and historical topics of interest to thoughtful travelers. What’s hot: Bite-sized travel guides that specialize in topics ranging from ... the foods of Italy to one that helps you explore the historical and
architectural significance of Angkor’s famous temple structures in Cambodia.
Los Angeles Times
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Join Our Email List!
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More from Approach Guides
Guidebooks for the ultra curious, Approach Guides has more than 40 guides to the world’s greatest cultural sites.
Italy | France | Spain | Turkey | Jordan | Israel | Morocco | India | Sri Lanka | Myanmar | Cambodia | Thailand | Java |
Japan | Australia | New Zealand | Guatemala & Honduras | Chile | Argentina | New York City
(www.approachguides.com)
Your wine shop companion, the Approach Guides Wine app is the definitive guide to the world’s wines.
Wine App for iPhone and iPad
(wine.approachguides.com)
Trip Reads recommends the best sources of information — books, articles, videos, music and web resources — for
getting to know the world’s greatest travel destinations.
Travel Reading Lists
(www.tripreads.com)
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