The Ellora and Ajanta caves are excellent examples of ancient rock-cut cave temples. They are located in Maharashtra, India, and are designated by UNESCO as the World Heritage Sites. These caves were constructed in two phases in the time period spanning four centuries.
They are also known for their exquisite paintings on the walls; and the themes of these paintings generally depict the incidents from Buddha's life, Bodhisattvas, and the Jatakas.
They are made out of a granite rock and are 30 in number, including the incomplete ones. The Ajanta Caves are a world famous heritage, known for their unique architecture and the abundance of sculptures and paintings.
The caves belong to the Hinayana and Mahayana sect, the two Buddhist schools. Of these the ones numbered 9, 10, 12, 13, and 15A are Hinayana caves and the rest are Mahayana.
Chaityas are numbered 19, 26, and 29, whereas all the other 24 caves viz., 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11-18, 20-25, 27 and 28 are Viharas. Vihara caves were the worship halls and monasteries, and are embellished with Lord Buddha's various paintings and carvings. Cave number 1 is situated at the eastern end of the horse shoe-shaped ravine.
Next to it, is the cave number 2 which is notable for its beautiful depiction of Jataka tales. Cave number 16 is one of the biggest Viharas and is well-known for the decorative murals. It beautifully portrays the life of Sundari, wife of Nanda who was the half brother of Lord Buddha.
Out of the 34 caves, caves numbered 1 to 12 are Buddhist, and are built between 5th century and 7th century A.D. Cave number 10 was named as Vishwakarma, after the architect of Gods. Cave number 11 is known as Do Tal and the 12th one is called Teen Tal.
The Hindu caves were constructed during the Kalachuri and Rashtrakuta periods between the 5th and 10th century A.D. They represent a very different and creative style of vision and execution skills.
It took around 100 years to construct this temple and because of its magnificent architecture, it appears like a free-standing Dravida type of temple. It is an epitome of religious architecture and depicts the Hindu mythology and epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
The Jain caves numbered 30 to 34, beautifully reveal specific dimensions of Jain philosophy and traditions. The most remarkable of these are the Chhota Kailash (cave number 30), the Indra Sabha (cave number 32) and the Jagannath Sabha (cave number 33).