Cave Architect during and post Gupta Age

During Gupta Age

The tradition of cave architecture continued during the Gupta Age. Caves of this age are found at Ajanta, Bagha, Udaigiri & Mandargiri. Cave 16, 17, 19 at Ajanta was cut during this age. Bagha is located in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh. There are 9 caves at this place. These were cut during Gupta Age. These caves belong to Buddhism.

These were discovered by the F. Danger field in 1818 AD. Udaigiri caves are located near Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh. These caves belong to Vaishnavism & Shaivism. Huge images of Vishnu in Varaha form are found at the gate of some Udaigiri caves. Mandar caves are located in Bhagalpur district, Bihar. These caves belong to Jainism.

Post Gupta & Early Medieval Age

Caves of this age are found in peninsular India at Ellora, Elephanta, Badami/Vatapi & in the Pallava Kingdom.

Ellora Caves

There are 34 caves at Ellora. These caves belong to Buddhism, Jainism & Hinduism. Cave number 1 to 12 belongs to Buddhism. Cave number 13 to 29 belongs to Hinduism. Cave number 30 to 34 belongs to Jainism. These are cut during 600 – 1000AD. These extend to over distance of about 2 km. Ellora caves are the finest example of religious tolerance & liberal progressive outlook of Ancient India because caves belonging to all 3 faiths were cut simultaneously. The followers of all 3 faith work prominently contemporary without any atomicity.

Cave number 10 is Chaitya. This cave has a multistory entrance & pillars at the gate. Cave number 6 has images of the goddess Tara & Mahamayuri. Mahamayuri was similar to Goddess Saraswati; she was a goddess of learning on Buddhism depicted on a peacock. Cave number 12 & 11 are triple storied. Cave number 11 – “Do Taa” – because initially only two stories were known, the 3rd story is in form of a basement discovered in 1876.

Cave number 11 has the images of Goddess Durga & Ganesh along with Buddhist images. Cave number 15 is known as the Dashavtara temple. It is dedicated to God Vishnu. It appears that initially it was planned to be as Buddhist Vihara but later on it was developed as a Hindu temple. These caves have a beautiful image of Nataraja along with various incarnations of Vishnu.

Cave number 16 is most prominent at Ellora. It’s known as Kailasha temple. The cutting of this temple commenced in 760 AD during the region of Rashtrakuta king Krishna I. The work continued for the next 100 years. Craftsman removed more than 2 lacs of material by using their primitive tools. Its biggest monolithic structure in the world. Its height is 36.6 meters, the length is 84.1 m & width is 47 m. These temples depict the abode of God Shiva in Kailash Mountain. A large number of image of Shiva in a different form, images of Nandi & Shiva symbol is depicted. There were paintings on the wall of this temple but most of these paintings got damaged at present.

Kailash temple has been cut in Dravidian style though it is monolithic. Cave number 21 is known as Rameshwar cave/temple. It is the oldest among all caves. It has a beautiful image of Ganga.  Cave number 25 is known as Kamharadam. It contains a beautiful image of the Sun God in his Chanat at dawn time. Cave number 29 is known as Dhumar leng. Its planning appears to be unusual, it’s in a cross shape. It contains the image of God Shiva in various forms. Cave number 30 is known as Chota Kailash because its design is similar to Kailash temple. Cave number 32 Indra Sabha. This cave has beautiful. In ancient times Ellora was known as Elapura. These caves were included in the World Heritage site list in 1983.

Elephanta Caves

It’s an Island located at 10 km of the Mumbai coast. These caves were originally known as “Gharapuri”. The name elephant was given by Portuguese. Portuguese reached here in 1534. At that time there was a huge image of an elephant on this island near the coast looking toward the sea. The name elephant was given because of this image. At present this image is located in the Lawn of Bhau Dajilad museum. (Earlier known as Victoria & Elbert) museum at Bhaikula, Mumbai). This lawn is known as “Jijamata Udyan (Victoria Garden). There are 7 caves at Elephanta. Out of these 5 are Hindu & 2 are Buddhists.

These caves were worshiped by locals before the establishment of Portuguese control over the Island. The Portuguese didn’t allow locals to enter into caves. Hindu caves are dedicated to God Shiva & Vishnu. Beautiful Shiva images in Trimurti, Maheshmurti, Ardanarishwar & Uma – Maheshwar form are found in this cave. These caves were cut during the 5th century to 8th century AD. These caves were included in UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list in 1987.

Badami Caves/Vatapi

These caves cut during the reign of Chalukya during the 6th- 7th century, Badami was the capital of Chalukya. 8 Hindu & 1 Jaina caves are located here.

Pallava Cave

Pallava ruled in Tamil land with its capital at Kanchipuram from the 4th century to the middle of the 9th century. Cave architecture was patronized by King Mahendra Varmana 1 & Narasimha 1 in the 7th century. Mahendra Varmana 1 was a great builder. His title was Chaityakari. He started the tradition of cutting the caves. Caves cut during his reign are found at Mahendravad & Pallavavaram (Tamilnadu).

Mahendra Vishnugriha, Mandapa, located at Mahendravadi & Panchapandava Mandapa (Pallavavaram) are the finest example of cave architecture belonging to the reign of Mahendra Varmana-1. These caves are known as Mandapas/cave temples. They represented the Mahendra style of architecture. Caves cut during the reign of Narsimha-1 are located at Mahabalipuram.

Adivaraha Mandapa & Ramanuja Mandapa are the finest examples. These caves belong to the Mamalla style of temple architecture, Mamalla was the title of King Narsimhna-1. The caves belonging to the Mahendra style are less ornamented & much less refined when compared with the caves of the Mamalla style.

The pillars cut in the caves of Mahendra style are smaller & thicker whereas the pillars cut in Mamalla style are higher, finely carved. These caves are rectangular halls. The back wall has one or more rooms. These rooms were used by monks for residential purpose & halls used for religious gatherings & worship. The rows of the pillar were cut along the walls as well as in front of the gate. The images of doorkeepers were placed near the main gate of the cave on both sides.