Ellora Cave – World Heritage Site by UNESCO

Ellora Caves
Written by Shirshendu Sarkar

Ellora Caves 

Are you an architecture lover? Do you love to explore art and history? If yes, then Ellora Caves is calling for you. A whiff of antiquated mystery sits heavy in the air on the 2 km-long stretches. The Ellora, titled a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra is famous for the exceptional monolithic shrine of Kailash Mandir dedicated to Lord Shiva.

The whole Ellora Cave comprises of more than 100 caves and temples that are carved from rocks on the mountain. Though for tourists only 34 caves are open the rest bears age old secrets that are preserved securely by nature.

The complex architectural excellence has caves from the Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain faith.

Let’s get you introduced to the history and geography of Ellora Cave. This will surely increase your interest in the heritage site a few folds. Built during 600-1000CE in the Sahyadri hills in Aurangabad and is a 2hr drive from Ajanta Caves. It served as lodging to the traveling Buddhist and Jain monks along with being a trade route in ancient times. There are 17 Hindu caves, 12 Buddhist and 5 Jain caves among the 34 open caves bearing their deities and other carvings which depict the mythology of each religion.

These caves located near to each other prove the harmony and solidarity of each religion. Some of the Hindu and Buddhist caves are believed to be built during the Rashtrakuta Dynasty while the Jain Caves were built during the Yadav Dynasty between the time span of 550CE to 950CE.

Coming to architecture, it will definitely blow your mind with its intricate rock-carved idols, paintings, and excellent engineering.

It is even a mystery today to engineers and architects how they were built without the help of any modern machines so many years back.

Though many of the deities and idols have been damaged the carvings and paintings still bears the proof of the excellent ability of the workers.

  • Out of all the caves, cave 16 bears a monument dedicated to Shiva, Kailash Mandir is the largest single monolithic rock excavated in the world. It was said to be built during 757-783 AD.
  • The unrivaled centerpiece of Ellora looks like a multistoried temple that is actually cut from a single monolithic rock having some unique paintings and inscriptions still preserved.
  • Cave 29 is an elaborate cave temple with having a resemblance to the Elephanta Caves near Mumbai.
  • Among the 5 caves of Jaina, Cave 32 known as Indrasabha is vast and you should not miss it.
  • The lower part of this cave lies unfinished or may have been destroyed but the upper story is huge with beautiful pillars, large sculptural panels, and paintings on its ceiling.
  • All the Jaina caves are believed to belong to the Digambhara sects of Jainism.
  • Cave 10 is a Chaitya meaning prayer hall and Caves 11 and 12 Buddhist Caves are the only known multistoried elaborated Buddhist Monasteries in India.
  • All the other Buddhist Caves like 5,10 and 12 bear beautiful and magnificent artwork all done on carved rocks that are really a site to behold.
  • During your Ellora Cave visit, you can surely take a tour of the nearby tourist places. These include – Grishneshwar Temple, Bibi Ka Maqbara, Daulatabad Fort, Khuldabad Village, and the Tomb of Aurangzeb, the last Mughal Emperor.
  • Lastly not to forget the Ajanta Caves which is another excellence of ancient art, culture, and architecture.

The best time to visit the Ellora Caves is suggested from June to March as the hot and humid summer season will tire you out easily during your thrilling expedition.

Reaching Ellora Cave is very easy. The nearest bus stand is 27km away in Aurangabad and car and bus services are available. Aurangabad Railway Station is well-connected to all parts of India.

Aurangabad Airport situated 35km from Ellora is well connected with Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad.

So think less and don’t forget to book your tickets soon to explore the world heritage site The Ellora Cave.


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Shirshendu Sarkar

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