Ajanta Caves 16, 17

By Sanjeev Nayyar Sanjeev@esamskriti.com | 2018

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1. Entrance to cave no 17. The lady you see in front is Japanese – lots of them in Ajanta. This album has caves 16 n 17 which are a must see. Ajanta split into 4 albums i.e. 1&2, 4 to 19, 20 to 26 and this one.

2. Monastery also called a zodiac cave from a circular piece of gigantic wheel painted on verandah wall. Sanctum has huge image of Buddha with Bodhisattvas and flying figures. Hall has 20 pillars. Doorframe is lavishly carved. Lintel of the main door portrays 7 Mortal Buddhas along with the future Buddha ‘Maitreya’.

3. Ceiling before entrance. Central panel has 6 figures, their hand arranged in such a way that though each figure has 1 hand it gives appearance of 2 hands. Where ceiling ends are 8 Buddhas. Left & right bottom of pic are female door-keepers, missed taking a full view. Doorway is carved with floral designs, figures of Buddha, female door-keepers, scroll-work, twisted rope-design, pilasters & lotus-petal.

4. Close up of Buddha in various mudras. Below Buddhas note paintings of Yaksha couples.

5. Painting of ceiling.

6. Hall with 20 pillars. Centre of hall notice painting.

7. This painting on ceiling is I think on left or right of main ceiling painting.

8. Image of Buddha. Missed clicking Indra with his celestials’ retinue gliding to worship the Buddha. ‘There are several Jataka-kathas in this cave. They are - Vessantara Jataka, Nalagiri elephant Jataka, Chhadanta Jataka, Mahakapi Jataka, Hasti Jataka, Hamsa Jataka, Sutsom Jataka, Matropasaka Jataka, Mahish Jataka, Simhal Avdan Jataka and Nigrodhamarg Jataka.’

9. Close up of Buddha, notice deer below. Door panel intricately carved. Buddha is flanked by the figures of Padmapani & Vajrapani holding chamaras (cannot see).

10. Door panel I think has standing and sitting Buddha. Image of Buddha in teaching attitude. The back-slab of image is detached from the back wall of the shrine.

11. Gives you a sense of pillars, ceiling painting, door panel and Buddha. ‘In one panel, a gathering of his disciples with some foreign persons are seen listening his sermon. Six men with six hands is a unique composition in this cave.’

12. White elephants. Please help with caption.

13. Story of Simhalavadana – story of Simhala’s conquest of Sri Lanka as narrated in the Divyavadana. Top centre is a palace scene.

14. Looks like Buddha on a horse. Please help with caption.

15. Buddha with Yashodara & Rahul in Kapilavastu. Also missed taking subjugation of Nalagiri by Buddha, one of the Eight Great Miracles of the life of Buddha.


17. Ceiling painting.

18. Marching. Some pics not clear. Showing so those who know what they represent get some idea.

19. Front view pillar devoid of design. Right top is stupa, left is Buddha.

20. Some pics not clear. Showing so those who know what they represent get some idea.

21. Verandah wall. Missed my zoom lens to take a close up of the Apsaras’s necklace, hearings and head gear, awesome. Left wall verandah is gigantic but damaged wheel, upheld by a pair of green hands termed as Wheel of Life. Missed taking.

22. Centre below is a scene from Vessantara Jataka. Centre below see some sort of an umbrella over the couple. To their right is a couple in what looks like a bed. Verandah painting.

23. View from cave 17 going all the way to 26 identified by the arch on left end of pic.

24. Largest and finest monastery. Buddha is flanked by Bodhisattvas as fly whisk-bearers & celestial nymphs carrying garland. Pillars contain beautiful paintings. Previous births of Buddha known as Jatakas painted on the walls. Ceilings filled with floral, faunal & geometrical designs. Masterpiece paintings like death of a princess, Asita’s prediction, conversion of Nanda, Maya’s dream, Miracle of Sravasti & Sujata offering kheer.

25. Image of Buddha. Period 475 to 500 A.D. Hall has 20 pillars.

26. On either side of Buddha are Bodhisattvas. Please take a guide for cave no 16,17,1,2 these are important caves – guides usually show about six key caves.

27. Huge image of Buddha in teaching attitude, seated in the pralamba-pada, posture, is carved in high relief and has a circumambulatory round it.

28. Guide said this is like modern construction with beams. Left and right are figures of dwarfs (ganas).

29. Couple. Graceful poise and features. Light was there too less in cave to take paintings ka pics.

30. Couple. Graceful poise and features. Light was there too less in cave to take paintings ka pics.

31. Seated figures of Buddha.

32. Couple. Sorry could not do justice to this cave. But flash not allowed and light less. Cleaning staff not helpful too. Inspite of offering to tip them like I did elsewhere not helpful.

33. Think this is Buddha giving alms. Caption details taken from books published by Archaeological Survey of India and Ajanta, Ellora and Aurangabad Caves, An Appreciation by T.V. Pathy. Credit to them. I am only the messenger. In case of any errors please mail back.

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