The Ellora caves are one of the most popular historical tourist locations in the Aurangabad district. Declared as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites the Ellora caves happens to be one the biggest monastery temple caves cut out of rocks. The caves and the paintings and sculptures with features Buddhist, Hindi and Jain artwork and monuments. These caves were created between the passages of 600 to 1000 CE. The Ellora Caves happens to be a standing epitome of the communal and religious harmony that must have existed in ancient India. Ellora Caves Built By Although the opening of the discussion gives a rough idea of the time frame within which the cave complex must have been commenced and then completed, yet there remains much ambiguity regarding the exact dates of the caves. There is much confusion regarding the fact that which of the caves came first – the Buddhists, the Hindus or the Jains. Further there is also a confusion regarding the date chronology of the caves in each of the religious sub-sects. There are more than 100 caves in the site. Out of tem 34 have been opened for the general public to see. 12 caves are of Buddhist origin, 17 ones happen to be Hindu in their features and paintings and 5 are Jain. The Hindu and the Buddhist caves were developed by the Rashtrakuta dynasty. Similarly the Yadava Dynasty is credited with the construction of the Jain caves. The funding of these caves came from the royal patrons, the wealthy traders and businessmen and the affluent people of the region. Ellora Caves Timing The Ellora caves are open round the year even on holidays. You can plan a visit to the site any day of the week except Tuesdays, when they site is closed for the visitors. The caves are open for the tourist from morning 6 to evening 6. The day hours are the best time to visit the place. This is when you can examine all the paintings and the sculptures and other architecture of the caves. Visiting the place after sunset will be of no use. It can even be a little dangerous. Ellora caves are quite elaborate in its dimensions. Visitors will have a lot of things to see and explore. Hence it is advisable that you visit the place with a minimum of two to three hours in hand. Ellora Caves Information The Ellora Caves is considered to be one of the most important tourist attractions of the Marathwada region. It is located about 18 miles north west of Aurangabad and also 190 miles east north east of the commercial city of Mumbai. The site is under strict protection from ASI. The Ellora caves are situated along the rocky range of the Western Ghats. The ancient volcanic movements have led to the emergence of the several layered basalt land forms. They are also referred to as the Deccan Traps. Several scholars have opined that the Ellora Caves had attained importance in various ages like the Early Hindu age from 550 to 600 CE, the Buddhist period from 600 to 730 CE and a later Hindu and Jain phase from 730 to 950 CE. The very first of these caves were probably built as early as the reigning periods of the Traikutakas ad the Vakataka dynasties. The Vakatakas have also been credited with the construction and the development of the Ajanta caves. However some of these Ellora caves like the 29 cave were constructed b the Kalachuri dynasty who was the followers of Lord Shiva. Some of the Buddhist caves can also be attributed t the Chalukya dynasty. The Rashtrakuta dynasty can be attributed with the construction of the Jain and the later Hindu caves. Ellora Caves Location & How to Reach Located near Aurangabad, you need the city first before you come down to the Ellora caves. The city of Aurangabad is very well connected with the other main cities of the nation. You can reach Aurangabad through train, flights and even bus routes. If you are coming down from other areas in Maharashtra you can take the road routes through bus networks or other private vehicles. Once you are in Aurangabad you can easily come down to the Ellora caves. Entrance Fee: The entrance fee to Ellora caves is rather nominal. The Indian tourist’s needs to pay Rs.10 and the foreign tourist’s needs to pay Rs.250. children below fifteen years can visit the caves for free. Video and Still camera will charge an extra Rs.25. Ellora Cave Temple & Important Structures The caves 1 to 12 are the Buddhist caves in this complex. They are often considered to be the oldest of the range and dates back to 630 to 700CE. Eleven out of the twelve caves happened to be the viharas or the monasteries. They have huge prayer halls and were buildings with many storeys. These buildings were carved out of mountains and had sleeping quarters, living cells, kitchens, etc. these caves contains beautiful carvings of saints, bodhisattvas and Gautama Buddha. The Cave 10 deserves a special mention in this context. It is referred to as the Vishvakarma Cave which was developed as a caitya or a worship hall. The cave is also known as the ‘carpenter cave’. The final finish of the rock has a wooden beam finish. The cave 10 wonderfully combines a worship hall and a vihara. The caves 13 to 29 are the Hindu caves which were mainly constructed during the Kalachuri period. These caves hosts several important Hindu temples like the Dhumar Lena in cave 29, rameshwar temple in cave 21, the Kailsaha temple in cave 16, the Dashavtara in cave 15, Ravan ki Khai in Cave 14, Nilkantha in cave 22, etc. Caves 30 to 34 in the Ellora complex belonged to the Jain Digambara sect. the Jain caves happened to be smaller as compared to the Hindi and the Buddhist ones but contained really detailed and exquisite carvings. These caves featured things like symmetric mandapas, pillared verandah. The Jain caves depicted the 24 Jains, Jain deities and the human devotees. Ajanta Ellora Caves best time to visit The winter season is considered to be the best to visit Ellora caves. Temperature falls till 10 degree and it is comfortable visiting the caves during this time. The months between November and February are considered to be the best to visit these caves and explore their beauty and historic marvels. However since the adjoining region boasts of lush greenery, you can also visit the place during the Monsoon months from July to September. Ellora Caves History Located in the Sayhadri Mountains, the Ellora Caves are the second most important rock cut cave complexes found in India. The caves have a special historical significance, since they clearly depict a scenario of complete religious and communal harmony. The Ellora caves is probably the only rock cut cave complex that exhibits architecture, paintings and sculptures from all the three different religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism’s. All of them exist side by side. The caves and the paintings, sculptures and the inscriptions done on tem clearly depict the fact that the royal patrons and the imperial rulers of the area played a major role in the development of these caves. The wealthy people of the place contributed in the development of the caves. This is an indication of the fact that art, culture, painting, sculpturing etc had a lot of significance in those days. Religion too happened to be an important part of the general lives. People were much invested in their divine deities. Every different cave from all the three religious sects exhibits their own strain of architecture. The peaceful coexistence is surely a ting to learn even in the current times. The caves truly reflect the secular nature of the nation as a while. The rock cut caves also signifies the architectural prowess of the designers, architects and the mason of the age. All in all it is one of the most awe striking pieces of art and culture in India. Attractions nearby Ellora Caves Once you are done with exploring the Ellora caves make a note of the following places. Visit them as well to get a better insight into the rich history and culture of the place. A visit to the Ellora caves is never complete without seeing the Ajanta caves. Make a point to visit the Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga Temple. It is a mere three minutes walk from the Ellora caves. The next destination is Bhadra maruti. Again a celebrated Hindu temple of the region it is situated at a distance of 2.4 km. Merely at a distance of 25 minutes walking from Ellora caves is the Mughal Silk Bazaar. As the name suggests you get a collection of specialty and gift shops in the place. This is often considered to be a shopper’s paradise for local goods. Visit the Tomb of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb which is at 2.4 km from the Ellora caves. Before you plan a visit to the Ellora caves enquire about the Ganesh chaturthi festival in the region. The Ellora caves hosts a love festival during this time of the year. The place becomes alive with popular culture and trade in the region. 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