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About Ajanta Caves 01 to 29



The squarish (35.7 x 27.6 m) monastery, consists of a hall sided by 14 cells, vestibule, sanctum sanctorum, an open verandah (19.5 X 2.82 X 4.1 m) flanked by a cell on each side and a open courtyard with two cells on the sides, datable to 4th – 5th centuries A.D. Importantly it represents a seated Buddha in dharmacakrapravartana mudra (preaching attitude) in the sanctum and world fame painted depiction of Padmapani and Vajrapani. Besides it depicts Sibi, Samkhapala, Mahajanaka, Maha-ummagga, Champeyya Jatakas and the scene depicting temptation of Mara.


This monastery (35.7 X 21.6 m) consists of cells, sanctum santorum and two pillared sub-shrines datable to first of sixth century A.D. While the seated Buddha in dharmacakrapravartana mudra is enshrined in the sanctum, the side sub-shrines contain two Yaksha figures (popularly known as Sankhanidhi and Padmanidhi) to the east and Hariti & her consort Pancika to the right.

Extensively painted cave is famous for the ceiling paintings. The Jatakas painted here are Vidhurapandita & Ruru and miracle of Sravasti; Ashtabhaya Avalokitesvara; the dream of Maya.


This is an incomplete monastery (10.08 X 8.78 m) and only the preliminary excavation of pillared verandah exist.


This squarish monastery consists of a hall, sanctum sanctorum, pillared verandah and is datable to first half of sixth century A.D. This is the largest monastery at Ajanta measuring (35.08 X 27.65 m). The door frame is exquisitely sculpted flanking to the right is carved Bodhisattva as reliever of Eight Great Perils. The cave was once painted, traces of which can be noticed. The ceiling of the hall preserves a unique geological feature of a lava flow.


This monastery (10.32 X 16.8 m) is an unfinished one. However, the richly carved door frame, and female figures on makaras are important ones.


This is a double storeyed monastery (16.85 X 18.07 m) consisting of hall, sanctum sanctorum and a pillared hall in the lower storey and a hall with cells, subsidiary cells and sanctum sanctorum in the upper storey. Buddha in preaching attitude is housed in both the shrines. The depiction of Miracle of Sravasti and Temptation of Mara are the important paintings. Sculptural depiction of Buddha in various attitudes and postures can also be noticed here.


This monastery (15.55 X 31.25 m) consists of a sanctum sanctorum, an oblong open hall with two small porticos supported by heavy octagonal pillars and eight cells. Buddha in preaching attitude is housed inside the sanctum. Other sculptural panels include Miracle of Sravasti, seated Buddha under the protection of Nagamuchalinda, etc.


This is an unfinished monastery (15.24 X 24.64 m) at Ajanta, located at the lowest level and perhaps earliest among the monasteries. Major portion of the frontage has been swept away by a landslide.


This apsidal chaityagriha (18.24 X 8.04 m) is datable to second century B.C. and belongs to the Hinayana phase of Buddhism. The chaityagriha consists of an entrance door, two side windows, central hall, nave flanked by side aisles (pradikshana) on either side separated by a row of 23 pillars and a stupa, the object of worship.

The chaityagriha exhibits reproduction of wooden architectural styles, in the form of inward tapering octagonal pillars, evidence of fixing wooden beams & rafters, etc. The chaitya was in use during later period also as indicated by the sculptures of Buddha on the façade and side walls facing the court. Inside the chaitya is seen two layers of paintings, the earlier dating back to the second half of 1st century B.C. and the alter to 5th – 6th centuries A.D.


In April 1819, John Smith, a British Army Officer noticed the huge arch of this cave from the view point which ultimately led to the discovery of Ajanta Caves. This cave is the earliest chaityagriha at Ajanta. A Brahmi inscription on the façade dated to the 2nd century B.C. reads ‘Vasithiputa Katahadi’.

The cave (30.5 X 12.2 m) consists of a large central hall, nave flanked by two aisles (pradikshana) separated by a row of 39 octagonal pillars and a rock stupa at the apsidal end, the object of worship. The cave consists of two period of paintings, the earlier dated to 2nd century B.C and the later 4th – 6th century A.D. Two Jataka stories of this period have been identified, namely, the Sama (Shama) Jataka and the Chhaddanta Jataka. The later period paintings contain Buddha figures in various poses mainly over the pillars.


This monastery (19.87 X 17.35 m) datable to beginning of fifth century A.D. consists of a hall with six cells and a long bench, a pillared verandah with four cells, a sanctum sanctorum. Buddha in preaching attitude is housed in the sanctum against an unfinished stupa. Few paintings that available here depicts Bodhisattvas, figures of Buddha, etc.


This Hinayana monastery consists of a hall (14.9 X 17.82 m) the front wall is completely collapsed sided by twelve cells arranged on three sides. An inscription on the back wall of the monastery records the gift of this cave by one merchant Ghanamadada and palaeographically datable to 2nd – 1st century B.C. perhaps slightly later than Cave 10. The cell frontage are decorated with chaitya window motifs above the door opening.


This is a small monastery and belongs to the first phase. It consists of an astylar hall with seven cells on three sides. The cells are provided with rock-cut beds.


This unfinished monastery (13.43 X 19.28 m) was excavated above Cave 13 at a higher level. It was originally planned on a large scale. The depiction of sala bhanjikas on the top corners of doorway is beautifully depicted.


The monastery (19.62 X 15.98 m) consists of an astylar hall with eight cells, an antechamber, sanctum sanctorum and a pillared verandah. The sculptural depictions include Buddha in various postures, seated Buddha on simhasana inside the sanctum sanctorum. The traces of paintings indicate that it was originally painted.


Smallest of all the excavations at Ajanta this cave consists of a small central astylar hall with one cell on three sides. The front wall had an inscription in shell characters (which is now lost). The hall is relieved with chaitya window pattern rising from vedica pattern.


According to an inscription found here, the excavation of this cave was caused by Varahadeva, the minister of Vakataka king Harishena (circa A.D. 475-500). The cave (19.5 X 22.25 X 4.6 m) which is a monastery consists of a central hall surrounded by 14 cells on three sides, vestibule and a sanctum for Buddha image. The important painted themes depicted are the conversion of Nanda; Miracle of Sravasti; Maya’s dream; and certain incidents from the life of Buddha. The Jataka stories depicted are Hasti, Maha-ummagga, Maha-sutasoma. Painted inscriptions can also be noted inside the caves.


A Brahmi inscription found here records the excavation of this cave by a feudatory prince under Vakataka king Harishena. This monastery (34.5 X 25.63 m) consists of a spacious hall surrounded by 17 cells on three sides, a vestibule and a sanctum containing the image of Buddha. The cave houses some of the well preserved paintings of the Vakataka age that includes Vessantara Jataka (right of door), a huge and gigantic wheel representing the ‘Wheel of Life’; flying apsara (to left of door), subjugation of Nalagiri (a wild elephant) by Buddha at Rajagriha, Buddha preaching to a congregation. The Jatakas depicted here are Chhaddanta, Mahakapi (in two versions), Hasti, Hamsa, Vessantara, Maha-Sutasoma, Sarabha-miga, Machchha, Mati-posaka, Sama, Mahisa, Valahass, Sibi, Ruru and Nigrodhamiga.


This consists of a rectangular excavation (3.38 X 11.66 m) leading into another cell. The hall has two pillars with moulded bases and octagonal shafts.


This chaityagriha (16.05 X 7.09 m) is datable to fifth century A.D. and could be the gandhakuti. The stupa is carved with a standing image of Buddha 7.

This cave is known for it sculptural grandeur of the façade and particularly the two life size Yaksha images on either sides of the chaitya vatayana (arch). The hall has painted depictions of Buddha in various postures.


A pillar less monastery consists of hall (16.2 X 17.91 m) cells, sanctum sanctorum and a pillared verandah datable between A. D. 450 and 525. A Brahmi inscription in the verandah records the gift of the mandapa by one Upendra. Buddha in preaching attitude is housed in the sanctum. The sculpture of seven Buddhas accompanied by attendants is another important sculptural panel in this cave.


This monastery (28.56 X 28.03 m) consists of a hall with twelve pillars and twelve cells on three sides, sanctum sanctorum, pillared verandah (pillar’s restored now). Out of 12 cells four are with pillared porches. The sanctum house seated Buddha in preaching attitude. Trace of paintings are noticed which consist of a panel depicting Buddha preaching a congregation.


This monastery (12.72 X 11.58 m) consists of an astylar hall four unfinished cells, sanctum sanctorum and a narrow verandah. Buddha seated in pralamba-padasana is carved on the back wall of the shrine. The sculptural depiction of Buddha in different forms, painted figures of Manushi-Buddhas with Maitreya can be noticed here.


This is an unfinished monastery (28.32 X 22.52 m) and consists of an astylar hall, sanctum sanctorum, antechamber & side cells and a pillared verandah. The cave is known for the rich decoration of pillars and pilasters and the naga doorkeepers.


This is an incomplete monastery (29.3 X 29.3 m) and second largest excavation at Ajanta after Cave 4. The plan consists of a hall with pillared verandah and sanctum sanctorum. A chapel with pillared porch is excavated outside the verandah. The sanctum houses a seated Buddha in pralamba-padasana.


This monastery (11.37 X 12.24 m) consists of an astylar hall, pillared verandah and an enclosed courtyard and excavated at a higher level. Two cells are noted on the left end of the verandah and the hall has no cells. The hall is devoid of shrine.


This chaityagriha is quite similar to Cave 19, but of a larger dimension (25.34 X 11.52 m) and more elaborately and exquisitely provided with sculpted figures. An inscription (A.D. 450 – 525) found on the wall of the front verandah records the gift of this chaityagriha by a monk Buddhabhadra, a friend of Bhavviraja, a minister of the king of Asmaka (Vidarbha). The chaityagriha consists of a hall, side aisles (pradikshana) and a rock-cut stupa front by an image of Buddha. The façade, the inner pillars, the triforium (between pillars and roof arch), aisles side walls are extensively carved with images and decorative designs. However, the most striking and prominent image is that of Mahaparinirvana of Buddha on the right aisle wall and the assault of Mara during Buddha’s penance adorns the same wall.

This cave could have been part of Cave 26 and it consists of two storeys, the upper one partially collapsed. The monastery consists of a hall with four cells, antechamber and sanctum sanctorum. Buddha in teaching attitude is housed inside the sanctum.

This is an unfinished monastery of which only the pillared verandah was excavated.

This is an unfinished chaityagriha (22.8 X 12.84 m) in its first stage of excavation and located at the highest level, located between Caves 20 and 21.

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