The gorgeous Bhaja Caves of Maharashtra
are decorated with ancient paintings of Buddhist art. The Bhaja Caves are generally exquisite rock cut Buddhist temples which contain noteworthy testimonial of history, architecture and art. There are 22 caves which have been created during 200 BC, roughly around 2,200 years ago. The Bhaja caves are located in steep precipice, almost 120 m above the plains of the surrounding area. Bhaja Caves are most renowned due to the ornate fascia of the caves. It is generally believed that the paintings and architecture was inspired by the Barabar Caves.
Stone carvings of the Bhaja caves are not much distinctive and the pattern is same as the moulded terracotta. The Sculptures of Bhaja have intricate and detailed circlet, jewellery and garlands. There is a strong probability that the sculptures were initially plastered and then painted with bright colours. The artworks of the caves are of religious nature and the implication of Buddha marks its special feature. The sculptures from the 4th century AD, portray Lord Buddha in the physical form and contains the numerous paintings of Buddha.
Cave 12, which contains a shrine, is the most striking that is the oldest and large Chaitya or Chaityagriha present in Indian caves. There were lot of wooden buildings as well. Earlier there used to be a wooden portico in the entrance, right below the arch, which is decorated with detailed human figures. The hall area beyond the fascia is almost 17 m x 8 m large and 8.8 m in height. It is divided by 27 pillars and allows passage to the Stupa. There are wooden ribs added further on the top. These wooden works are almost 2,200 years old and amongst the oldest wooden structures. The Chaityagriha consists of stupa on the extreme end, whose diameter is 3.45 m.
almost all of the caves in Bhaja are ancient Buddhist monasteries known as Viharas, and Seven of them contain inscriptions that inform about the influences left by Maharathi Kosikiputi Vihnudata around 2nd century AD.
An interesting monument that has been identified as a sacred burial ground is also found near Chaitya. Inside a rock-cut chamber there are various stupas, and a few are also found outside. Some of the stupas contain names of Sthaviras, who were Buddhists monks.
Cave No. 18, located towards the south, is amongst the last few caves that consists of rectangular shaped hall with a pillared balcony in the front. It contains 2 chambers on the right side. There are a few very interesting sculptures here, such as figures of a royal king, believed to be sun god, vanquishing evil, and that of Lord Indra
riding an elephant. The area also contains a small waterfall which enhances its beauty.