Ellora Caves

 
 
Ellora_Caves.jpgIntroduction

Ellora is the finest example of cave temples with almost 34 caves with intricate interiors and ornamental facades. Carved during the 350 A.D. and 700 A.D., the rock temples and monasteries represent three faiths - Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

Cave 10 is a Chaitya-hall (prayer hall) and is popularly known as 'Visvakarma' with a seated Buddha in a Stupa. The Ramesvara cave has figurines of river goddesses adorning its entrance. The Dumar Lena cave is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Among the Viharas (residences of the monks). Cave 5 is the largest. The most impressive vihara is the three - storeyed cave called 'Tin - Tala'.

The Kailasa temple in cave 16 is a masterpiece in itself. The temple that took nearly 100 years to be completed, is decorated with themes and incidents from the Puranas. Consisting of exquisite carvings, the cave temple is the most striking one amongst the other 30 at the site. Though carved out of one single rock, the temple looks like a freestanding structural southern type temple.

The exterior of the temple is richly carved with niches, plasters, windows as well as images of deities, mithunas (erotic male and female figures) and other figures. Most of the deities at the left of the entrance are Shaivaite (followers of Lord Shiva) while on the right hand side the deities are Vaishnavaites (followers of Lord Vishnu).

The whole temple consists of a shrine with a ling at the rear of the hall with a Dravidian sikhara, a flat-roofed mandapa supported by sixteen pillars, a separate porch for Nandi surrounded by an open-court entered through a low gopura. There are two Dhvajastambhas (pillars with the flagstaff) in the courtyard. The grand sculpture of Ravana attempting to lift Mount Kailasa, the abode of Lord Shiva, with his full might is a landmark in Indian art.

All the carvings are done in more than one level. The lower storey consists of several large shrines while the gallery along the three sides at the rear contains huge sculpted panels. A two-storeyed gateway on the west side provides access to the main temple and the Nandi Mandapa, both on the same level, and is approximately seven meters high. The lower storey of the main temple as well as the Nandi Shrine are solid and cannot be entered. Stone bridges carved from the living rock connect the Nandi pavilion and the entrance porch of the temple. The main temple has a southern style superstructure. The lower storey has almost life-size elephants carved as if they are holding up the temple.

The Jaina Caves (30 to 34) are massive, well-proportioned, decorated and mark the last phase of the activity at Ellora.

Tourist Information

Open from sunrise to sunset (except Mondays) Entry Fees for those above 12 years: Rs. 5.00

Best time to visit

The season extends all round the year. Although the best season to visit Ajanta and Ellora is from October to March.

Access

Ellora is located 30 km from Aurangabad, which is quite well connected, to Mumbai and Delhi via Manmad by rail. Aurangabad can also be reached by road from Pune Ahmednagar, Jalgaon, Shirdi, Nasik, and Dhule.

Where to Stay?

Hotels are available to suit all budgets at Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad, Ahmednagar, Dhule, Nasik, Shirdi, etc. The Maharashtra Tourism Corporation Holiday resort near Aurangabad railway station, the Ajanta travellers lodge at the caves and the M.T.D.C. Holiday resort at Fardpur (4 Km from Ajanta) provide clean and comfortable accommodation.

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