There are 30 caves at Adjanta, all Buddhist. They are numbered sequentially from one end to the other. The oldest caves are in the middle at the apex of the horseshoe bend; newer caves spread out to each side around the river’s curve. Five of the caves are chaityas ( assembly or prayer halls meant for larger gatherings of people) and 25 are viharas (monasteries for housing wandering monks and devotees). It is awesome to imagine the isolation a devotee experienced in these caves 2500 years ago on a dark evening high above the Wagshore River, the roar of the waterfall just upriver, only candlelight illuminating fantastic stone-carvings and paintings, with nothing to sleep and sit on but solid, bare, cold rock.
In the earlier caves, the Buddha is never represented directly. His presence was alluded to by symbols like a footprint of the wheel of law.The later caves all house Buddha icons, including a huge reclining Buddha lying back awaiting nirvana.
Here are a group of shots highlighting some elements of the stunning stonework. Flash photography is not allowed inside the caves, so there are many other magnificent images that just cannot be shared with you.
These caves with windows were rare two-story chapels that were vaulted inside. The acoustics in these vaulted caves are fantastic. It is believed that the windowed second story was used by musicians and singers during arati and that the sound was meant to not only enhance the ceremony inside, but echo across the river gorge and countryside.