These 34 monasteries and temples, extending over more than 2 km, were dug side by side in the wall of a high basalt cliff, not far from Aurangabad, in Maharashtra. Ellora, with its uninterrupted sequence of monuments dating from A.D. 600 to 1000, brings the civilization of ancient India to life. Not only is the Ellora complex a unique artistic creation and a technological exploit but, with its sanctuaries devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, it illustrates the spirit of tolerance that was characteristic of ancient India.
The invaluable ensemble of 34 caves at Ellora in the Charanandri hills of western India’s Maharashtra State showcases a spirit of co-existence and religious tolerance through the outstanding architectural activities carried out by the followers of three prominent religions: Buddhism, Brahmanism, and Jainism. The rock-cut activity was carried out in three phases from the 6th century to the 12th century. The earliest caves (caves 1–12), excavated between the 5th and 8th centuries, reflect the Mahayana philosophy of Buddhism then prevalent in this region. The Brahmanical group of caves (caves 13–29), including the renowned Kailasa temple (cave 16), was excavated between the 7th and 10th centuries. The last phase, between the 9th and 12th centuries, saw the excavation of a group of caves (caves 30–34) reflecting Jaina philosophy.
Amongst the caves of the Buddhist group, Cave 10 (Visvakarma or Sutar-ki-jhopari, the Carpenter’s cave), Cave 11, and Cave 12 (Teen Tal, or three-storied monastery, the largest in this category) are particularly important. These caves mark the development of the Vajrayana form of Buddhism and represent a host of Buddhist deities. The prominent caves of the Brahmanical group are Cave 15 (Dasavatara, or Cave of Ten Incarnations), Cave 16 (Kailasa, the largest monolithic temple), Cave 21 (Ramesvara), and Cave 29 (Dumar Lena). Amongst these, Cave 16 is an excellent example of structural innovation, and marks the culmination of rock-cut architecture in India featuring elaborate workmanship and striking proportions. The temple is decorated with some of the boldest and finest sculptural compositions to be found in India. The sculpture depicting Ravana attempting to lift Mount Kailasa, the abode of Siva, is especially noteworthy. The remains of beautiful paintings belonging to different periods are preserved on the ceilings of the front mandapa (pillared hall) of this temple. The Jaina group of caves (caves 30 – 34) is exquisitely carved with fine, delicate sculptures, and includes fine paintings dedicated to the Digambara sect. Through their art and architecture, the Ellora Caves serve as a window to ancient India, including socio-cultural phenomena, material culture, politics, and lifestyles.
Criterion (i): The ensemble of Ellora is a unique artistic achievement, a masterpiece of human creative genius. If one considers only the work of excavating the rock, a monument such as the Kailasa Temple is a technological exploit without equal. However, this temple, which transposes models from “constructed” architecture, offers an extraordinary repertory of sculpted and painted forms of a very high plastic quality and an encyclopaedic program.
Criterion (iii): Ellora brings to life again the civilization of ancient India with its uninterrupted sequence of monuments from AD 600 to 1000.
Criterion (vi): The Ellora Caves not only bear witness to three great religions, i.e. Buddhism, Brahmanism, and Jainism, they illustrate the spirit of tolerance, characteristic of ancient India, which permitted these three religions to establish their sanctuaries and their communities in a single place, which thus served to reinforce its universal value.
Aurangabad is an important city in the state of Maharashtra, India. It sees a lot of international tourist traffic due to world heritage sites, Ajanta & Ellora caves. Aurangabad, a dream destination of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, founded in 1610, is known today as one of the four important cities in Maharashtra. The city has a population of 1.2 million (2011) and is heading towards rapid industrial growth. It retains its past glory and charms, heritage and traditions. Conspicuously seen on the Deccan plateau, it has a rich culture and a plethora of magnificent arts on display. Travellers to Aurangabad will find history dating back to the 2nd century BCE, when the Satavahana rulers established their capital in Pratishtanapura, today known as Paithan. It was around this time that the viharas (monasteries) were carved out of caves in what is now Ajanta, and the stunning cave paintings were made, to be lost and rediscovered in the early 19th century [read more].
Malegaon is a city and a municipal corporation in Nashik District in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Malegaon is known as the Textile Hub of Maharashtra. Malegaon is the second largest city of Nashik district after Nashik city and one of the largest cities in North Maharashtra. Malegaon (previously Maligaon) at the confluence of the Mausam (previously Moosy) and Girna rivers. On the road linking Mumbai and Agra – now national highway No 3, NH3 – it used to be a small junction known as Maliwadi (hamlet of gardens). It quickly gained the reputation for being a source of employment in 1740 when a local jahagirdar, Naro Shankar Raje Bahadur, started building a fort in the area. As the fort took 25 years, a sizeable number of Muslim workers and artisans from places like Surat and northern India settled in the area. After the British capture of the Malegaon fort in 1818, Muslims from Hyderabad migrated to the region [read more].
Nashik is a city in the state of Maharashtra with a population of about 1.5 million people (2011). This is an ancient holy city. It is a city of pilgrimage for many Hindus. The place is important for Hindu rituals for the afterlife offerings. It is also one of the four locations of the Kumbha Mela festival. Nashik is one of the world’s holiest Hindu cities. Kumbhmela is held here once in 12 years along with four other cities in India. Lord Rama along with Lakshmana and Sita spent 14 years of his exile at Tapovan near Nashik. The city came under the rule of Mughal in 16th century and was renamed Gulshanabad. Then it comes under Peshwa of Maratha Empire in 1818. City is also noted for its participation in freedom struggle. Freedom fighters like Veer Savarkar and Anant Laxman Kanhere were born in Nashik. For a long time, the name of the city has changed according to different rulers [read more].