(Last Updated on : 25/09/2015)
Architecture of Ajanta Caves
narrates the story of the ancient India and the skills of the people during the times. Ajanta Caves are a world in itself and they depict the high level of art and architecture that prevailed in the country during the ancient times. The caves of Ajanta is testimony to the best art work The creativity of the sculptures depict various human and animal forms and even make them expressive makes the cave paintings at Ajanta one of the high watermarks of artistic creativity. The Ajanta Caves are a unique artistic creation and its sanctuaries devoted to different religious illustrate the spirit of tolerance that was a characteristic of ancient India.
It is one of the finest monasteries at Ajanta. It comprises a verandah and a hall bordered with cells. Above the left porch are friezes depicting the three ominous signs that changed the Buddha's life: a sick man, an old man and a corpse. It also includes the following:
: Inside, twenty pillars with heavily decorated bracket- capitals support the hall ceiling. Every inch of this cave was originally painted, and in spite of the havoc caused by time and man to it, this remains one of the world's most treasured possessions of art. Sanctum: The sanctum to the rear has a colossal image of the Buddha in the dharamachakra pravartana mudra or the preaching pose. It also conveys different moods of the Buddha - solemn and contemplative when seen from your left, joyful from the right and tranquil when viewed from the front.
Ajanta Cave 1
-Painting of Bodhisattva Padmapani with the lotus in his hand Paintings: This cave contains some of the best-known paintings of Ajanta; graciously posed Bodhisattvas
with elaborate headdresses flank the antechamber doorway. On its either side, there are two of the best-known murals Bodhisattva Padmapani, having one with the lotus in his hand and Bodhisattva Vajrapani holding a thunderbolt (right) accompanied by attendants, divine musicians and flying figures. The left wall of the antechamber depicts the assault and temptation by Mara, the god of passion, and on the right wall is the dark princess being offered lotuses by a lady.
: The sidewalls antechamber is painted with murals showing two important episodes from the Buddha's life: the left wall narrates the story of Gautama being tempted by Mara just before he became the Buddha. The right wall depicts the miracle of Sravasti, where in order to confound heretics and disbelievers, the Buddha multiplied himself into thousand images. The walls of the main hall are painted with representations of a large number of Jatakas, the stories of the previous births of Gautama Buddha.
It is one of the beautifully painted Viharas that dates back to the 5th century. With its beautiful and artistic ceiling paintings, it narrates various episodes connected with the birth of Lord Buddha such as the dream of his mother Maya, its interpretation by the priests and the birth of Gautama occupy the left wall. Next of this is a representation of the Miracle of Shravasti when the Buddha manifested himself in thousand forms. The cave is remarkable as the painted ceiling includes large medallions, delicate bands of lotus flowers, scrollwork and abstract geometric patterns. This cave also depicts a sculpture of Hariti, which is from the right side-chapel at the rear of the hall. To Hariti's left (in shadow) is her consort Panchika, also known as Kubera.
It was planned on a grandiose scale, but never completed; this is the largest vihara (monastery) in Ajanta. It has a central doorway embellished with guardians, flying figures, maidens clutching trees and also images of the Gautama Buddha
and Ganas, or dwarfs, with garlands. It also depicts a man and woman fleeing from a mad elephant and a man giving up his resistance to a tempting woman. Six gigantic standing figures of the Buddha are carved in the walls of the antechamber.
Ajanta Cave 6
- Shrine of seated Buddha accompanied by standing Buddhas. Cave 6 It is excavated on two levels; it has a splendidly carved entrance. The lower hall has 16 octagonal columns. In the shrine is the seated Buddha accompanied by standing Buddhas. The upper hall has only one painting, depicting the gift by a monk.
It is a late 5th century vihara. Unlike the other monasteries, this one contains only two small porticos and does not have a hall. The shrine has a seated Buddha with a halo carved on the back wall. This sculpture represents a miracle at Shravasti, a city where the Buddha multiplied himself a thousand times in a showdown with his religious rivals (including Mahavira
It is an early chaitya hall that dates back to the 1st century BC. Its entrance facade, like most of the chaityas, includes a large chaitya arch framing a window with imitation timber construction. The large window allowed light into the cave and it permitted rock to be easily removed from the cave during the process of excavation.
It has the Dying Princess' painting, representing the Sundari, the wife of the Buddha's half brother, Nanda, who left her to become a monk. A number of unfinished caves were abandoned mysteriously. It also includes two bracket figures, which are another late 5th century painted vihara. On the left, it depicts a flying couple, where the woman's breasts are decorously covered, rather unusually for this type of figure. On the right, there is a figure of a gana.
This cave dates back to the 5th century chaitya, where the entrance is surmounted by a large chandrasala. The sculptural program relates with Buddha ordaining his successors. The interior cave depicts a standing Buddha, with sheer drapery covering his body, appearing in front of the stupa. An impressive three-tiered umbrella again tops the figure. A barrel-vaulted roof with stone ribs arches above the central hall. The band between the column brackets and the roof is decorated with sculpted panels of the Buddha. Also an impressive variety of decoration on the brackets and panels in this cave includes Buddha images, flying celestials, mounted riders, vegetation, and lion heads set at intervals above the panels. This interior however, includes a comparable decoration found in Cave 26.
It is an unfinished cave and hence it is an interesting one. The interior of this cave was carved in the late 5th century and it is larger than and similar to cave 19. It is richly decorated with panels of Buddhas, attendants, flying figures, lion heads, and foliage. The Buddha on the front of the stupa is seated rather than standing, and is framed by a straight lintel rather than an arch. From the from, the Buddha can be seen seated on a lion throne with legs apart, his left hand in the Vitarka mudra and his right forearm broken off. The Buddha's feet rest on a lotus footstool. Riders and flying attendants flank him.
Another sculpture of Buddha in this cave is the standing Buddha that is wearing transparent garments and is flanked by chauri bearers. But amongst all these, is a very striking sculpture of a very large (7m or about 21 feet) reclining Buddha, in the pose, which depicts his death or parinirvana
. The peacefulness of Buddha's expression reflects his blissful leave-taking from the world of material existence.
All paintings of the caves depict the heavy religious influence and revolve around Buddha, Bodhisattvas, incidents from the life of Buddha and the Jatakas. The paintings are executed on a ground of mud-plaster in the tempera technique.
Before one's vision a dream of beauty- of caves, hidden in the midst of a lonely glen with a streamlet flowing down below, caves that were scooped out into the heart of the rock so that the pious Buddhist monk, out on mission to spread the tenets of Buddhism could dwell and pray, caves that the followers of Lord Buddha, embellished with architectural details with a skilful command of the hammer over the chisel, with sculpture of highest craftsmanship and above all, with the paintings of infinite charm.
At Ajanta, the paintings on the walls, illustrate the events in the life of Prince Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism in India
and in the more popular Jatakas stories pertaining to Buddha's previous incarnation. According to the older conceptions, the Buddha wrought many deeds of kindness and mercy in a long series of transmigration as a Bodhisattva, before achieving his final birth as the sage of Sakyas.
Incidentally they contain the scenes of semi-mythological history, the royal court and popular life of the ancient times, as told in romances and plays. Some pictures recall the Greek and Roman compositions and proportions, few late resemble to Chinese manners to some extent. But majority belongs to a phase, which is purely Indian, as they are found nowhere else. These monuments were constructed during two different periods of time separated by a long interval of four centuries. The older ones were the product of last to centuries before Christ and belong to Hinayana
period of Buddhism in later part of 2nd century AD when Buddhism was divided into two sections, after the conduct of the fourth general council under another great king, Kanishka