Buddhist Caves in India
The Ajanta and the Ellora caves figure high in the list of tourists visiting India, and here we do not just mean tourists interested in Buddhism.Even those desirous of exploring the cultural heritage of India make a beeline to visit these caves. The world heritage sites of Ajanta and Ellora Caves are located in the state of Maharashtra and offer wonderful example of early Buddhist architecture. Within these caves, you can see some awesome paintings and sculptures of an era gone by.
Apart from the world famous Ajanta and Ellora, Maharashtra is also home to a number of other Buddhist caves like the Kanheri, Karla, Bhaja and Junnar. The Kanheri caves, built during the period of Mauryans and Kushanas, were orginally meant to serve as a rest place for travellers on their way from Sopara-Kalyan. However soon, the caves were turned into Buddhist viharas with monks coming into meditate and stay. The Karla Caves belong to 3rd century and housed the Theravadin Buddhist monks in the monsoon. Later, these caves, too, were converted into viharas for all the sects of Buddhism.
The Junnar caves date back to 2nd-3rd century and are located at a place where the famous Indian warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji was born. The Bhaja caves belong to 2nd century BC and are famous for excellent sculptures including the one of the dancing couple.
Other than the caves mentioned above, there are number of other Buddhist caves in India that need to be visited in order to get a complete idea of Buddhism, its progress and affect on the people in the country. These caves include the Nagarjunakonda and Undavalli caves in Andhra Pradesh; Barabar and Indashala Caves in Bihar and Pithalkhora Caves in Maharashtra.
Buddhist Caves in China
Yungang Grottoes or caves are the most famous attraction of the second largest city of the Shanxi province of China, Datong. The caves, 53 in number are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The most prominent sight of the grottoes is the 14 m tall image of Shakyamuni Buddha. The construction of the grottoes was commenced by the northern Wei dynasty that was also responsible for the intiation of the Longmen grottoes construction. The caves are located 12 km from Luoyang in the west Henan province of China. These caves are famous for over 3600 inscriptions, 50 pagodas and more than 100000 Buddhist statues.