What are Ellora Caves?
Leaving its complicated history,mythology and philosophies behind, let’s first understand what are Ellora caves. As the name suggests these are caves scooped out of the cliffs of mountain ranges called Sahyadari Hills located in the present day western Indian state of Maharastra.
What is special about these caves are the way its made are the purpose behind it. The caves were made as temples, montessories, chapels, prayer halls or even granaries by the Buddhist, Hindu and Jaina traditions. Though the caves were made for religious reasons, many of them are architectural masterpieces with extraordinary artistic expressions.
The caves of Ellora are many centuries old, the youngest is a thousand years old and the oldest is probably another five more centuries older. The ethics and customs of those days encouraged building them as noble causes. Rulers of the region, mostly the Rashtrakuta clans, and often wealthy merchants were its chief patrons.
During its hay days, this place was an important center for spiritual learning. However with events in history, the religious significance of the place gradually diminished over the centuries. Currently the Ellora caves are an important tourism destination in India. From that perspective Ellora Caves essentially means a series of 34 caves spread along the 2 km (1.5 miles) or so along the basalt cliff of this hilly region. And it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site too.
The tourist attractions of Ellora is spread over the 34 or so rock cut caves in a row. The centerpiece is probably the massive Kailashanatha Temple which is entirely carved out of the volcanic basalt mount.
Maharashtra has the largest number of World Heritage Sites in India. From the lofty heights of the Rajabai Towers in Mumbai one can overlook the city of Mumbai bustling with pace.
Ajanta & Ellora are a lot larger and overwhelming than you would have imagined. A little preparation can make your sightseeing insightful, memorable, and satisfying.