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Ellora Caves

Ellora, an archaeological site 29 km (18 mi) north-west of the city of Aurangabad (in the state of Maharashtra), is known for Hindu, Buddhist and Jain cave temples built during the rule of the Kalachuri, Chalukya and Rashtrakuta dynasties (6th and 9th centuries). Supposedly, these caves were built during the 5th-7th century. Of these, a group of five Jain cave temples, the Jagannatha Sabha, was built in 9th century built by Rashtrakuta.

It is said that some of the Hindu caves (27, 29, 21, 28, 19, 26, 20, 17 and 14) precede the Buddhist caves. All Buddhist caves were built between 5th and the 8th centuries, of which caves 1 to 5 were built in the first phase and caves 6 to 12 were built in the later phase. The earliest of the Buddhist cave is Cave 6, followed by 5, 2, 3, 5 (right wing), 4, 7, 8, 10 and 9. Of these, the most famous of the Buddhist caves is cave 10, a chaitya hall (chandrashala) or ‘Vishvakarma cave’, popularly known as the ‘Carpenter’s Cave’.

There is a cathedral like Stupa hall known as Chaitya at the side of its multi-storey entry whose ceiling has been carved to give the impression of wooden beams. There is a 15 foot statue of Buddha seated in a preaching pose at the centre of this cave.

Caves 1-9 are all monasteries and some of these monastery caves have shrines including carvings of Gautama Buddha, bodhisattvas and saints. Whereas, the last two Do Tal (cave 11) and Tin Tal (cave 12), which also are the last caves to be built, have three stories.

These structures consist mostly of viharas or monasteries: large, multi-storeyed buildings carved into the mountain face, including living quarters, sleeping quarters, kitchens, and other rooms.