Buddhist Caves Ellora

By Sanjeev Nayyar Sanjeev@esamskriti.com | 2018

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1. Inside Cave 10. This is the only Buddhist cave with a chaitya griha. It is datable to 7th century. The façade is decorated with a number of frenzies of animals, couples etc. The spacious hall has 30 pillars. Centre is preaching Buddha flanked by 2 Bodhisattvas & celestial couples carved against the stupa. It measures 85 feet 10 inches by 43 & is 34 feet high. Roof is an imitation of wooden ribs.

2. Beautiful external carved façade is what you see in the next pic. It also has a Music Gallery. The artist have copied the contemporary wooden constructions in cave architecture.

3. The façade has a window that allows light to enter the cave and has frenzies of animals, couples. Top pic above window are flying celestials. On level 1 balcony left and right side of pic are huge Bodhisattvas. Level one playful ganas (dwarfs) in various moods are of great interest. U can see a large courtyard with apartment on both sides. Centre of pic is entry to chaitya that u saw in pic 1.

4. Buddha (11feet high) accompanied with Bodhisattva Padampani n Vajrapani. Drum of stupa is also decorated with panel of Buddha & Bodhisattvas. The ribbed wall gives an echo effect in hall when a person standing at one end of the columns of the cave creates any sound. “This cave has gained encomiums as Vishwakarma, the Creator of the Universe because of its architectural majesty and sculptural wealth.”

5. Where u see people is cave 2. Started from here. Devdutt Patnaik wrote in Business Sutra, “While inquiry into the nature of suffering established a Buddha, caring for other transforms Buddha into Bodhisattva – it is an idea celebrated in Mahayana, the later school of Buddhism. Bodhisattva is more engaging & participative with eyes open & his many hands reaching out to comfort people.”

6. Buddhist cave no 2 is datable to the 8th century. Hall has Buddha in the centre with sculptures of Buddha in different postures & deities of the Buddhist pantheon. U see Buddha with Bodhisattvas. “Pillars are extremely ornate with square basis, prismatic in the middle & caped by ribbed cushions. Occurrence of lateral galleries in place of usual cells is a new feature. The door of the hall & sanctum have large figures of Bodhisattvas.

7. Devdutt P wrote, “Often Bodhisattva is visualised as the female TARA (whom u see). In Vajrayana Buddhism the two are often in passionate embrace indicating the union of intellect and emotion. In many ways Tara performs the function of Kamakshi & Mohini. She is the glue of sensitivity & compassion that binds the hermit and the marketplace”.

8. Sanctum has Buddha on a lion throne in a preaching posture attended by bejewelled Bodhisattvas. In cave no 10 look for the headdress of females of that period missed.

9. Buddha accompanied with Bodhisattva.

10. Bodhisattva Padmapani.

11. Bodhisatva Vadrapani.

12. Pic of caves taken from cave 2.

13. One of the caves close to 2. Sanctum u see Buddha.

14.Cave no 4, AVALOKETESHWAR (Padampani) accompanied by Tara and Chuda.

15. Cave no 5 is huge. It has chapels with cells on either side with sanctum in the centre. Hall seems to have been used as an assembly, dining room and also for ritualistic purposes. Sanctum has Buddha in preaching posture with 2 large Bodhisattvas.

16. Pic of hall taken from entrance. It is comparable to the Durbar Hall in Kanheri.

17. Close up of Buddha in preaching posture.

18. Bodhisattvas on either side of sanctum. They are bedecked with intricate head-gears and exquisitely carved jewellery. Left side shows a woman sculpture. Please help with description.

19. Bodhisattvas on either side of sanctum. Left side shows a woman sculpture. Please help with description. Missed cave no 6. It has a magnificent Vihara. Has Tara panel, Bodhisattvas on shrine door & has sculpture of Mahamyuri, the Buddhist goddess of learning.

20. Entrance to cave no 12. Must see. It is a dated to 8th century & known as ‘teen taal’ because of its 3 floors. 1st floor has a pillared hall, antechamber & sanctum with cells. Has Buddha in preaching posture on a lotus throne. Sidewalls have panels of ‘Panch Dnyani Buddhas & 8 Bodhisattva Mandal’.

21. 2nd floor has pillared verandah/hall, sanctum & series of cells. Central figure of sanctum has devotee Sujata offering kheer to Buddha seated in earth-touching posture. 7 mortal Buddha’s & 8 Bodhisattvas Mandal are also carved on the side wall.

22. Cave courtyard. 3 floors in front. 3rd floor is more a sculptural gallery & prayer hall. Sidewalls have huge sculptures of Buddha flanked by Bodhisattvas & flying figures. Front hall has 11 Buddhas having foliage & Umbrellas over their head. On wall of antechamber of 12 Buddhist goddesses.

23. Bodhisattvas and Wall Panel. Right level 3 looks like a chaitya.

24. Buddha preaching with Lions. Missed taking pics of Panch Dnyani Buddhas.

25. 3rd floor corridor. Gives a you a sense of how big the hall would be. End of corridor is Buddha sculpture.

26. Buddha with Bodhisattvas. Close up of earlier pic. Buddha in BHUMISPARSHMUDRA or Vajrasana mudra.

27. Buddha in Dhyan Mudra.

28. Inside the hall. Probably monks sat on raised platform.

29. Seven Dhyani Buddha.

30. Right of pic female Bodhisattva ie Tara, Bhrukuti, Chunda and Mamaki. Centre is Buddha inside sanctum.

31. Buddha inside sanctum. Had to use a flash, just too dark.

32. Seven Dhyani Buddha. Buddha with umbrella on their head.

33. Buddha with deers in Dhyanmudra. These could be one of the eight Bodhisattva Mandals – since they are carved on the side wall of the cave.

34. Buddha in DHAMMACHAKRAMUDRA carved on side wall of the cave.

35. Corridor third floor.

36. Seven Manushi Buddha.

37. Close up of 7 Manushi Buddha.

38. Cave 6 Buddha accompanied by Bodhisattva. Composition in Chapel. To see over 150 pictures of Buddhist Caves https://www.photodharma.net/India/Ellora-Caves/Ellora-Caves.htm

39. Cave 10 Buddha.

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