- 255 Kms
- 4 / 5
Location: Near Aurangabad
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Aurangabad’s Ellora Caves is one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple complexes in the world.
The Ellora caves or ‘Verul Leni’ are located at a distance of 30 km from Aurangabad. They represent one of the largest rock-hewn monastics-temple complexes in the entire world. Ellora is also famous for the largest single monolithic excavation in the world, the great Kailasa (Cave 16). The visit to these caves is most enjoyable in the monsoon, when every stream is filled with rainwater, with Mother Nature in full bloom in the background.
The caves are hewn out of the volcanic basaltic formation, known as ‘Deccan Trap’. The term trap means the step like formation of the volcanic deposits. The rock formation, on weathering has given rise to the appearance of terraces with flat summits. At Ellora, one can also see the channels (near Cave 32) through which the volcanic lava once flowed. These channels, have a characteristic brownish red colour, acquired due to overheating.
The hills in which the caves are hewn, forms part of the Sahyadri ranges and date back to about 65 million years ago. Many streams run down the hills, which are in their full vigour during the monsoon. A prominent stream is Elaganga, which drains into the Shiv, a stream of the Godavari river and lands as a crashing waterfall near Cave 29.
The Ellora caves depict three different religious creeds- Buddhism, Brahmanism and Jainism. They are placed in a semi-circle, with the Buddhist group at the right arc on the south, the Jaina group at the left arc on the north and the Brahmanical group at the centre.
The caves are datable from circa 6th – 7th century A.D. to 11th – 12th century A.D. In total, there are nearly 100 caves in the hill range out of which 34 caves are famous and visited by many tourists, out of which Caves 1 to 12 are Buddhist; Caves 13 to 29 are Brahmanical and Caves 30 to 34 are Jaina.
The Ellora caves, unlike Ajanta, have a close proximity to the trade route distinction and hence were never lost to oblivion. These caves were visited regularly by enthused travellers and royal personages as well. The caves are under the maintenance of the Archaeological Survey of India after the reorganisation of states and the dominions of erstwhile Nizams merged into the state of Maharashtra.
A brief account of the architectural splendour and artistic expressions of various caves is given here which enables one to understand the real character and importance of this wonderful place.
If you don’t have much time at hand, Cave nos. 10 (Visvakarma Cave), 16 (Kailasa), 21 (Ramesvara) and 32 & 34 (Jaina group of caves) should not be missed. Heres wher you can get a glimpse of the representative art of Buddhism, Brahmanism and Jainism.
The Ellora caves are open from sunrise to sunset. They are closed on Tuesdays.