Adjanta Caves Stonework

SC23

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.

SC1

The following shot interested me because it illustrates the “raw material” that the builders were faced with. Remember that all this was done by hammer and chisel. SC2

SC3

SC4

SC5

SC6

This chapel was built to simulate structural wooden rafters, even though the stone ribs serve no purpose other than decorative. SC7

SC8

SC9

SC10

SC11

SC12

SC14

SC15

A largely unfinished cave, illustrating some of the initial carving process. SC16

SC17

SC18

SC19

SC20

SC21

SC22

The wooden screen in the window is obviously a contemporary addition by the government to repel birds from getting inside.SC24

SC25

Another faux-vaulted ceiling chapel. SC26

SC27

SC29

SC30

SC31

SC32

SC33

SC34

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. SC35

SC36

SC37

SC38

SC39

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s