High on a basalt cliff near the village of Ellora is an amazing collection of elaborate rock-hewn monasteries and temples. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, the enchanting Ellora caves demonstrate the religious harmony that existed in ancient India and contain Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monuments.
The most dramatic in design are the 17 Hindu temples in the centre, dating from about 500 to 900 CE. There are also 12 Buddhist caves in the south dating from around 200 BCE to 600 CE and 5 Jain temples in the north from around 800 to 1000.
Kailasa (Kailasanatha, cave number 16) is the most impressive cave temple, named after the Kailas Range of the Himalayas where the Hindu god Shiva resides. This complex was excavated downwards, so it benefits from sunlight peeking in, unlike the other temples which were delved horizontally. Kailasa’s four storeys date back to the 8th century, 164 feet long, 108 feet wide, and 100 feet high and required 150,000 to 200,000 tons of solid rock to be removed. Inside are intricately carved monoliths and halls containing fantastic murals and life-size sculptures of animals.
Carvings of Buddhist and Hindu figures and a jolly scene of dancing dwarfs feature in the Vishvakarma cave (cave number 10), and a notable Jain temple is number 32 with beautiful carvings of lotus flowers.
Large crowds of tourists and religious pilgrims visit the caves each year, and this unique location is the setting for the annual Ellora Festival of Classical Dance and Music in the third week of March.
You can visit the Ellora Caves on our Mumbai, Ancient Caves and Goa Holiday or as part of your own bespoke Indian holiday. Contact our travel experts on 01792 315499 or email email@example.com