Comprising a total of 30 caves segregated into Hindu, Buddhist and Jain Caves, Ellora in Maharashtra is a must visit during your Buddhist tourism to India.
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Ellora Caves, Maharashtra

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The Ellora caves, dating back to the ancient and early medieval Indian era between 5th century CE to the 11th century CE, is located at a distance of 28 kilometers from Aurangabad, one of the leading cities in Maharashtra. These caves which are 30 in number and a combination of Jain, Buddhist and Hindu caves, symbolises the love and respect of all the religions in India, which has been in the root of Indian tradition and culture right from the ancient period, or rather since the prehistoric era.


The Caves
All the 30 excavated rock cut caves have been categorised into three parts:


Architecture
The Buddhist caves, cave numbers 1 to 12, form an integral of the Ellora caves, the finest example of the cave and temple architecture in the Indian sub-continent. The Buddhist monasteries in the Ellora caves are large and multi-storeyed structures. The most important of all these cave shrines is the cave number 10, a Chaitya hall, which further consists of a large 15 feet Buddha's statue in 'preaching pose'. Also known as the 'Carpenter's cave', the cave is more of a cathedral like large hall, whose ceilings give an impression of wooden beams. The sculpture of all these Buddhist caves have been dedicated to the Buddha in His different forms.


The Hindu Caves
The Hindu caves, cave numbers 13 to 29, belongs to the early Indian medieval period which is from the 8th century CE to the 10th century CE. Lying in the middle of the Ellora caves, the temples of the Hindu caves have mainly been dedicated to the Hindu Gods Shiva and Vishnu, who have been depicted in various forms.


The best example of all these caves is the cave number 16, known as the Kailasha or Kailasanatha temple, the largest monolithic structure in the world, dedicated to the God Shiva. The multi storey structure of the Kailasha temple though covers a vast area but interestingly was carved of a single rock. The gateway of the temple is also double storeyed and opens in a U-shaped courtyard, which is again surrounded by three storeyed large galleries containing sculptures of different deities. The temple complex also comprises image of the sacred Bull, Nandi, just in front of the central temple. The Nandi Mandap and the main Shiva temple, both about 7 meters high, have been constructed in two stories. The lower part of the Nandi Mandap, a solid structure, has been decorated with numerous carvings. The cave, besides including rooms, halls, windows, pillars and images of the deities, have further been carved with niches, plasters, mithunas and other Shaivite(related to God Shiva) and Vaishnavite(related to Lord Vishnu) figures. The unique and magnificent architecture of the Cave 16 itself makes it clear why it took about 100 years to erect this cave.

Other Hindu caves includes Rameshwara caves and the Das Avatara cave(depicting 10 incarnations of Vishnu) among many others.


Jain Caves
The Jain caves, which dates back from the 9th century CE to 11th century CE, reflects a vast dimension of the Jain philosophy and values. The Jain tradition, which strictly follows asceticism, are evident in all the Jain caves - Caves 32 to 34.


The city of Ellora - Aurangabad
Aurangabad, one of the major cities of Maharashtra, is more of an entrance to the Indian heritage, Ellora caves along with the other one - the Ajanta caves. Situated on the right banks of the river Kham, the city of Aurangabad is also a home to numerous tourist destinations with Bibi Ka Maqbara(Replica of the Taj Mahal, Agra) and Begum Garden being the major ones.


Nearby Cave Attractions

 Accessibility
By Air - The Ellora caves, situated at a distance of 28 kilometers from Aurangabad, can be reached by air. The nearest airport is at Aurangabad, which is directly linked to other major Indian cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Udaipur and Jaipur.

By Road - The Ellora caves can be reached by road from other cities of Maharashtra such as Mumbai, Nasik, Jalgaon, including Aurangabad.

By Rail - The nearest railhead to Ellora is at Aurangabad, 28 kilometers away.



 Best Months to Visit
The Ajanta caves are open for the tourists throughout the year, although the best months to visit the caves would be from October to March, due to the pleasant whether there.



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