Ellora caves are extremely famous in the world of art. The magnificent group of rock-temples at Ellora represents three different faiths which are Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain. Being one of the famous monuments in the world, Ellora figures in the list of monuments of human heritage. The Ellora caves nestle in the lap of the Chamdari hill extending over a mile and quarter in the north-south direction and are situated 18 miles north-west of Aurangabad.
The site also lies at the focal point from where the ancient travel routes sprang through Paithan and Broach on the other side. The cave monument of Ellora chiefly monitored by Chalukya- Rashtrakula rulers in between 7th to 10th century. The Buddhist caves at Ellora is with a vast pantheon of Buddhas, generally known as the Vajrayana cult. This philosopy emphasized self-discipline and meditation as means of attaining Buddhahood in contradiction to the Mahayana belief which held that the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas would by their endless grace and the compassion would help the devotee attain Nirvana.
All the Brahmanical caves at Ellora are dedicated to Lord Siva, one of the Gods of the Hindu trinity. The deity is worshipped symbolically in the form of the phallic emblem called the Linga which is invariably depicted in the shrine. Shiva's various manifestations suggesting his multiple attributes as the personification of death and time as the great ascetic Mahayogi and as the Lord of Dance, Nataraja are represented at Ellora. In addition, the various aspects of the female energy (The Shakti or Durga) are also ably portrayed in the sculptural panels. The other two divinities of the Trinity Brahma and Vishnu are also represented in a variety of forms thereby suggesting their conciliatory attitude towards other sects within Hinduism.
The Jain monasteries at Ellora mainly represent the Digambara sect. There is not much difference in the Digambaras and the Svetamaras. Both of them believed in the existence of the soul not only in animate beings but also in inanimate objects. Because of the rigid characters, Jainism did not influence the masses as much as Buddhism did. However, due to its minimal doctrinal changes through the ages, it survived as a live faith unlike Buddhism which declined owing to its major departures from the core of Buddhist dogma.
Over years, Jainism also adopted several Gods and Godesses from Hinduism which accounts for the presence of Siddhaika, Matangi, Yaksha, Yakshini etc in the Jain sculptures of Ellora.
In the Hindu cave art, cave 13 is small plain hall and like cave 1 it was meant for storage purposes. The cave commences a few yards away from cave 12 in the northern direction. The 14th cave consists of a pillared verandah and a shrine which is isolated from the back side by a wide passage. The side walls of the hall are scooped into several deep recessed compartments separated by ornately carved plasters.
The art and the structure of the caves make them unique and any person who is on a tour to India should make it a point to visit these caves that are amazingly made into the mountains!
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