Among the most important historical monuments in India, Ellora caves, cut out of the vertical face of a high basalt hill, Charanadari running north to south in the Deccan, was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. These caves are the culmination of Deccan rock-cut architecture. Located about 28 km north west of Aurangabad in Maharashtra, Ellora earlier known as Verul a tiny mountain village, has 34 rock-cut temples and monasteries, spanning a period of almost 400 years from the sixth to the tenth centuries AD. 

The Ellora caves, locally known as ‘Verul Leni’ is located on the Aurangabad-Chalisgaon road at a distance of 28 km north-northwest of Aurangabad, the district headquarters. The name Ellora itself inspires everyone as it represents one of the largest rock-hewn monastic-temple complexes in the entire world. Ellora is also world famous for the largest single monolithic excavation in the world, the great Kailasa (Cave 16). The caves are hewn out of the volcanic basaltic formation of Maharasthra, known as ‘Deccan Trap’, the term trap being of Scandinavian origin representing the step like formation of the volcanic deposits. The rock formation, on weathering has given rise to the appearance of terraces with flat summits. At Ellora, one can also have a glimpse of the channels (near Cave 32) through which the volcanic lava once flowed. These channels, due to overheating, have a characteristic brownish red colour. The hills in which the caves are hewn, forms part of the Sahyadri ranges of the Deccan and dated to the Cretaceous era of the Geological time scale (about 65 million years ago). The hills rise abruptly from the surrounding plains on the south and west, the western surface being extensively utilised for hewing the cave complexes.

The Caves

Architecture:- Ellora Caves present a wonderful exemplar of cave temple architecture. The world heritage site of Ellora, has detailed fascia in the company of elaborate interiors. The main patrons of Ellora cave temples are assumed to be the Chalukya - Rashtrakuta rulers (7th - 10th century). In those times, many king and merchants contributed huge sum of money for the erection of these temples. The construction of these temples was believed to provide salvation (moksha) to the Kings. Ellora Cave temples took around five centuries to seek completion. Wholly carved by Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monks, the temples appear astonishing in the golden light of the Sun. Ellora Caves boast of the outstanding imagination and detail work of art in the shape of their ancient monasteries, temples and chapels. The exquisite carvings have glimpse of Buddhism, Hindu and Jain expressions. Exhibiting the ingenious excellence of the artists, the caves are adored with wooden beams, graceful angles, steps along with divine figures of gods and goddesses. 

Wall Paintings:- The carvings and the paintings in the caves reveal the creative vision of the artist. The themes of the paintings portray the religious intensity of the sculptors and painters, who depict events from the life of Buddha and the Jataka Tales. In the tempera technique, the paintings are done on a base of mud-plaster. Ajanta caves also throw light on the enlightening history of the times, which includes court scenes, street scenes and cameos of domestic life as well. Ellora Cave has preserved beautiful wall paintings of the bygone era. Around 5 caves possess such paintings, but the best preserved lies in Kailasa Temple. According to the archeological revelations, the paintings were made in two phases. The paintings that belong to the first phase usually portray Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi.