It is hard to fathom, even harder to execute but there can be no mistaking the effort and the years that went in to creating Ajanta because it is there for us to see not far from Aurangabad in Maharashtra. The caves, not real ones, but man made, were on the ancient trade routes where money and influence seemed plentiful and the earliest date back to the 2nd century BC or as it is now noted 200 BCE. They continue to be built until about the 5th Century AD, 600 CE when they were abandoned for the caves of Ellora which I will also blog about, and they lay abandoned and ravaged by weather and time until an unsuspecting Britisher John Smith, out looking for tigers, came across one of the bigger caves.
A river flows through a rich and green ravine and the horseshoe rock face on the one side is what Buddhist monks decided to chisel into, using nothing more than a chisel and hammer. The caves, about 30 of them, are all masterpeieces of Buddhist art and architecture and have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They show elaborate paintings of Buddha and his life and of course the life of others around him, including women with intricate hairdos and even make up , men with socks and playful scenes of life in Buddha's court.All this painted with natural colours and dyes and done with little or no lighting in exquisite detail and design.
One of the entrances
Probably the most famous painting of the Caves Boddhisattva Padmapani holding a flower, but due to reduced lighting in the caves it is actually quite hard to get a good picture as flash is not allowed.
A scene of the court life
One of the Buddhas in Cave 4
One of the paintings
The patterned ceilings
Men of the Court with their socks !!
One of the many images of Buddha and the animals depicted below
The only reclining Buddha in the Ajanta caves.
Look at the peace on his face and the ease of his body.