Ellora Caves

Located 105 Km from from the heritage caves of Ajanta are the caves of Ellora, known world over for their architectural splendour. Ellora caves are located at a convenient distance of 30 Km from Aurangabad and are generally mentioned, and visited, along with Ajanta caves as Ajanta-Ellora.

Ellora caves are a set of 12 Buddhist, 17 Hindu and 5 Jain Caves, hewn from the volcanic basalt rock of the Charnadari Hill in the Sahyadri ranges of the Deccan.

Nestled in the green hills, Ellora caves are best visited during or right after the monsoons when all the streams come alive with rain water and the flora is lush with vitality.

Ellora Caves are situated on the ancient trade route connecting north and south, the dakshinapatha, and bear footprints of various traders, priests and pilgrims.

Because of the location of the caves on a busy route, the Ellora Caves always remained in public eye unlike the Ajanta Caves which were lost for centuries, altogether. Various travellers and geographers have mentioned Ellora in their accounts.

The caves came into existence only in 6th-7th century, when the Deccan was being ruled by the Chalukyas, transforming the old mountain village of Verul into the magnificent marvel of Ellora. Locally, the caves are known as Veru-leni after the name of the original village. Construction activity continued for about 500 years in Ellora.


The Caves

As one stands facing the curve of the Charnadari Hill, the Buddhist Caves are to the far right, i.e. on the southern end, followed by Hindu caves and then finally Jain Caves to the left. Most of the caves face West and thus are best visited in afternoon when natural light comes in.


Buddhist Caves

The earliest to be excavated were the Buddhist Caves consisting of the monasteries (Viharas) and the prayer halls (Chaityas) for the monks.

Numbered from 1 to 12 the Buddhist Caves date back to 500-750 CE. Of these the most remarkable are Caves 5,6,10 and 12.

Cave 5 is the largest single-storeyed cave in Ellora and Cave 6 is famous for housing two of the most finely sculpted figures.

Cave 10 stands out as in this cluster of caves, this is the only chaitya, i.e. the prayer hall, while all other Buddhist Caves were Viharas, the monasteries.

Cave 12, known as Teen Tal (three storeyed), is a monastery with 3 floors. Cave 12 is of immense historical as this 3-storeyed structure was carved out of solid rock with marvellous skills which is evident even today.


Hindu Caves

Caves 13-29 are the Hindu Caves depicting various scenes from Hindu mythology.

This set of caves dates back to 600-870 CE. Of these Cave 13 is in ruins. Cave 14 and 15 were originally Buddhist monasteries. Later, however, Cave 14 was converted into a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and was named as Ravana Ki Khai.

Cave 15 was also redone later as a two-storeyed Hindu temple, it’s main attraction being the grand sculpture of Lord Shiva in his Natraja pose.

Cave 16, known as Kailash Temple or Kailashnath is the most exquisite cave, reflecting the power of the fiery dance ‘Taandav’ performed by Lord Shiva.


Kailash Temple was a practicing temple for a long time until 19th century.

Kailash temple was conceived as the imitation of the mountain home of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati situated on Mount Kailash in the Himalayas. The entrance of the temple is braced by two doorkeepers and Goddess Lakshmi. A tall Shivalinga stands in the temple surrounded by various Gods.

Two-tiered galleries surrounding the temple on the three sides are studded with alcoves which are adorned with sculptures depicting scenes from the mythological tales, like demon king Ravana shaking Mt Kailasa while irated Lord Shiva is about to step on him, Ravana sacrificing nine of his ten heads, Lord Vishnu crossing the three worlds etc.

The construction of the Kailash temple is believed to have been started during the rule of the Rashtrakuta dynasty by Krishnaraja. The temple is renowned for being the largest monolithic structure in the world.


Jain Caves

Caves 30-34 are Jain Caves. As compared to the Buddhist and Hindu Caves, Jain Caves are very small. However, the caves are adorned with beautiful very intricate carvings.


Ellora Cave Timings: Sunrise to sunset

Closed On: Tuesday and National Holidays.



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