Holy crap! I walk into the first cave at Ajanta and there it is, the stunning bodhisattva Padmapani from my art history books. They keep it in low LED light to help preserve the color. The man below is using a spotlight and shop vac to clean cave 2. My guide asked him to shine the light onto the paintings so I could see better. I don’t really like the term bucket list, but this was definitely at the top of my 100 things to do before dying.
Man cleaning cave 2
Many of the ceiling panels look like they are painted in black and white, but with a flashlight one can see Lapis Lazuli blue on the edges of all the flowers and highlighting other areas.
Volcanic stone ceiling
Cave 9 exterior
Cave 9 and 10
The chaitya halls of caves 9 and 10 are thought to be the oldest, dating back to the 2nd century BC. Stupas, not Buddhas, were the focal point until the death of the Buddha.
Cave 10, paintings from the 1st century BC
Paintings from the portico of Cave 17
The colors in the paintings outside of cave 17 are still so vibrant. The pinks and oranges are surprisingly fresh looking. Conservators have put up white fabric curtains to protect the colors, but for almost 200 years they were only protected by the portico roof and a few posts, (they did spend over a thousand years covered by jungle though).
Outside Cave 17
Cave 19 exterior
Cave 26 interior
Buddhist caves at Ellora
Ellora is a place I have wanted to go to for such a long time, since I was studying Asain art as an undergrad. I don’t know how to describe this experience and it can’t really be explained in pictures either, but here is a taste of the great beauty I experienced. My favorite spot is the Buddhist cave with the ribbed ceiling, and the stupa with Buddha carved into the front. There were very few people when I was there and I was able to sit quietly on the floor and breathe it in. A once in a lifetime experience – the enormity was overwhelming at times. These caves were built by hand from solid rock between the 6th and 9th centuries!
Man from Jain cave
Man blowing into a conch shell on a post in a Jain cave
Three stories of Buddhist monk meditation quarters
Perfectly aligned posts carved from a solid mountain. This cave lacks decoration because it is for meditation. Only the two columns flanking the entrance (halfway down on the right) have carved pots with overflowing plants as a welcome.
Buddhist cave for worshipping the Buddha.
Ceiling of cave
Looking out from behind the stupa
The largest Hindu Temple in Ellora. Carved from solid mountain from the top.
This temple is for worshipping the god Shiva. It is built in the shape of a carriage, but instead of wheels it is carried on the backs of elephants and other animals.
Elephants, lions and gryphons supporting the temple
The Hindu temple from behind