After getting mesmerized by the beauty of paintings in Ajanta Caves a day before and blessed by Sai Baba at Shirdi in the next early morning, I returned to Aurangabad around 11 AM. I wanted to see the Ellora Caves now. I met some people during my trip to Ajanta who said that Ellora site is more beautiful than Ajanta. Ellora is just 30 kms away from Aurangabad and state operated buses are available frequently on this route. I boarded the bus along-with 10 foreigners. Foreigners generally prefer to visit this leg by bus due to short distance economical travel.
On the way to Ellora is the Daulatabad Fort. I didn’t have the time to visit this mighty fort, but heard the story of this fort from a local fellow traveler. He told that this fort is an excellent example of internal defense system. If intruders managed to enter the fort anyhow, they got trapped in some tunnels and a bhulbhulaiya (the labyrinth) and guards would welcome them with hot oil and burning coals, grilling them alive.
We reached Ellora in 40-50 minutes. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is believed to be built by Rashtrakuta Rulers and locally known as Verul Leni. While Ajanta is famous for wall paintings, Ellora is famous for rock-cut architecture. It has 34 rock-sculpted temples created between the 4th and 9th centuries. There are 12 Buddhist, 17 Hindu and 5 Jain caves containing rock-cut temples and monasteries. The Cave nos. 2, 5, 10 and 12 are of the Buddhist group, Cave nos. 14, 15, 16, 21 and 29 are of the Brahmanical group and Caves 32 to 34 are of the Jaina group. These caves are carved out a 2 km long cliff-face, running north-south. The Jain Temples are at the northern end, the Hindu caves and temples in the center and finally the Buddhist ones at the southern end.
Out of all the 34 caves, the star attraction is Cave No.16, a single rock cut Kailashnath Temple. The Kailasha is a great monolithic rock cut temple isolated from the surrounding rock and excavated from top to bottom and scooped out all through from outside to inside. This is designed to recall Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva – looks like a freestanding, multi-storied temple complex. This temple is situated just in front of main entrance. The temple is a splendid achievement of Dravidian art. Kailasha is a temple complex, with all essential elements of a temple, including main shrine, Nandi shrine, gateway, surrounding cloisters and subsidiary shrines.
The cave temple locally known as Dashavatara Temple because of the various incarnations of the Lord Vishnu depicted here, belongs to circa 8th century A.D.The whole temple is planned on a grand scale, executed on elevated platform and entered through a rock-cut gateway, which leads to a courtyard. The main structure is double storied. The ground floor has massive, square sectioned pillars with four cells and is plain and devoid of any sculpture. The upper floor is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Cave 14: The cave is locally known as Ravan ki Khai because of the sculpture of Ravana shaking the Kailasha Mountain.The wall of the hall contain a panel of seven-divine mothers. Cave 12: This is a Buddhist Monastry and is known as tin tal because of its three floors. It looks massive and majestic but the façade is very simple and does not betray the rich sculptures within.
The caves no. 1, 2 and 5 are mainly Buddhist Monastry and depicts the life of Lord Budhha through sculptures within.The cave 1 may have been used as the residence of stone cutters earlier.
After that I went to visit the northern end of the caves, a couple of kilometers far and mainly dedicated to Jain Religion. Cave 32 is a two-storied structure with some wonderful sculptures of Lord Mahavira. There is a large-size stone elephant standing on the right-side of the entrance. The upper floor which is an assembly hall, is called the Indra Sabha because of its exquisite and detailed carvings.
More Pics from Ellora Caves:
It take full day to visit all the caves on the foot and the Sun rays and heat makes you tired while walking.but as soon as you enter from one cave to another, you forget everything in these non-living beauties of the rocks. The rocks at Ellora really rock!These amazing caves do not need any word to hypnotize a person. These are beyond the limits of words and a human imagination, but when you are at Ellora, you have to re-think about the power of being human. These caves give you a clear thought that a human creature can do anything at any point of time in history and become an inspiration of its future generations.
While returning i had passed through The Bhadra Hanuman Temple at Khuldabad, few kms away from Ellora. The shared jeep stopped there for 5 minutes. Later I came to know that Grishneswar Temple which i missed during my Ellora trip is one of 12 Jyotirlingas and only one km away from Ellora Caves, but I also missed Daulatabad Fort and Biwi ka Maqbara at Aurangabad due to the shortage of time, so looking forward for another visit to this historical town in Maharashtra.