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Ellora Caves are an artistically built group of caves, which are situated 26 Km North of Aurangabad district, Ellora Cave Road, Verul, Maharashtra. It has 34 caves extending over an area of more than 2 km. The caves were carved out of the vertical rocks of the Charanandri hills and they are the perfect example of rock-cut architecture of India. It contains Buddhist Chaityas, Viharas, Jain, and Hindu temples. It is divided into three parts, Buddhist caves, Hindu Caves, and Jain caves, which were built in different centuries. The caves have more exquisite sculptures than those at Ajanta but have slightly less dramatic settings.
The Buddhist caves were built between the 5th to 7th century AD, which comprise caves 1 to 12 at the southern end. The Hindu caves were built between the 8th to 10th century AD, consisting of cave numbers 13 to 29 in the middle. The Jain Caves were built between the 9th to 11th century AD comprising cave numbers 30 to 34 at the northern end.
The magnificent Kailasa Temple (Cave 16) is internationally recognized as the largest excavation with a single monolithic structure present on the earth. The Ellora caves are represented as one of the best rock-hewn monastic-temple complexes in the whole world. In all there are 34 caves which include, 12 Buddhist caves, 17 Hindu caves, and 5 Jain caves, which are roughly numbered chronologically, starting with the oldest one, the Buddhist caves at the southern end.
The Buddhist caves are also known as Vishvakarma caves, which are the earliest of the Ellora caves. All the caves except cave number 10 were monasteries (Viharas) used for communal rituals, meditation, study, eating, and sleeping. When you progress from south to north the caves become steadily larger and more elaborately decorated. To enjoy the visit to its maximum, one should visit these caves during monsoon when the stream is filled with rainwater and the entire area is covered with lush green. Local visitors and international tourists are attracted to visit this historical place just to have a glance at the true beauty of mother nature.
In ancient times, it was known as “Verul” and through the centuries to the present day, it has attracted pilgrims continuously. The Ellora caves bear witness to the integration of three great religions (Buddhism, Brahminism, and Jainism) of ancient India. It illustrates ancient India's dominant characteristic of Tolerance. It is a unique artistic creation with rock-cut architecture which is devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism, the three great religions of ancient India. Every year about 1 million tourists visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Daily it remains open from 9 am to 5:30 pm and every Tuesday remains closed.