Ellora Caves in Maharashtra
If caves and the Hindu culture amaze you, then upon visiting India on your e-Tourist Visa, the place you must include in your itinerary is the Ellora Caves in Maharashtra.
A world heritage site, the largest rock-cut Hindu temple cave structure in the world – the Ellora Caves has won various titles. There are over 100 caves, among which 17 are Hindu, 12 Buddhist caves and 5 are Jain caves.
The grandeur of the place is imparted by not just the deities and mythologies of one particular religion, but all three of them (Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism) combined.
Here is a short guide on what you can expect from the Ellora Caves in India.
History of the Ellora Caves
If you’re visiting the Ellora Caves after entering India on your e-Tourist Visa, then you must be pretty interested in its history. And surely, it doesn’t disappoint.
Historians and architects are constantly gathering evidence on when the Caves were built. But the unanimous conclusion that they have reached is that each of the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain caves were built in different periods.
The studies also point toward the fact that it might have been the Traikutaka and Vakataka dynasties might have built the earliest caves. However, others such as Chaluka, Kalachuri, and other dynasties too have played significant roles in building the other caves.
It is considered that the Ellora Caves were near an ancient trade route, and as a result were visited regularly, especially by Jains and Buddhists.
Several accounts show that the activity in the caves receded in 13 century CE when India was under Islamic rulers.
How Can You Reach Ellora Caves?
The Ellora Caves are situated in Maharashtra about 29 KMs from Aurangabad and 300 KMs east-northeast of Mumbai City. Once you enter through your Indian e-Tourist Visa, you’d have different options available to take you to the Ellora caves.
The nearest Aiport is Chikalthana (Aurangabad), and should you opt for this route, you have to simply take a taxi upon landing. There is also rail connectivity and road connectivity from the places mentioned above.
Very close to the Ellora Caves are the Ajanta Caves (about 100 KM) which too are significant among the world’s rock-cut structures. These are significant tourist attractions, so reaching them should not be an issue.
Special Structures in The Ellora Caves
The Dhumar Lena is one of the early Hindu caves in the Ellora Caves complex, that was dedicated to the Hindu God of Destruction Shiva. However, there are structures of other gods and goddesses too.
The Dhumar Lena, Cave 29, is one of the largest sites in Ellora and offers you an Early Hindu temple, and a view of a natural waterfall integrated into the structure.
Cave 16 or the Kailasa Temple is one of the major structures that you’d find alluring in the Ellora Caves. The grand structure is known to be cut from a single rock and is inspired by Mount Kailasha in the Himalayas.
The structure covers an area twice the size of the Parthenon in Athens and inside you’d find structures commonly found in Hindu temples. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva, although shrines of other Hindu gods can also be seen.
The Vishvakarma cave or cave 10 is a Buddhist Cave, obvious from the 15-foot Buddha statue inside it. The prime attraction of the cave is that it has been given the appearance of wooden beams, the reason why it is often referred to as the “Carpenter’s Cave”.
The Vishvakrma cave has various rock structures, various relief artwork and idols of both male and female deities.
The Indra Sabha or Cave 32 is a 9th Century excavation that was first confused to be a Hindu or Buddhist Cave (hence the name) but was later found to be a Jain one. But Lord Indra is a major deity in Jainism as well, known to be the king of the first Jain heaven.
The temple has several carvings on the ceiling, walls at the upper level of the shrine, and so on But these are not why it is important.
Rather, it has layered deposits and text records, that prove the Jain community’s active working practices inside it once upon a time.
Applying For an Indian e-Tourist Visa? A Visit To the Ellora Caves is a Must
The Ellora Caves offer you the finest experience of the world’s best rock-cut architecture and is significant for religious and historical reasons as well.
So if your next trip to India on Indian e-Visa takes you around Maharashtra, don’t miss the Ellora Caves.