(Last Updated on : 12/06/2012)
Ajanta Cave 4 forms the largest monastery. It is planned on an ambitious scale, but could not be finished. The verandah which is supported by eight octagonal pillars with bracket-capitals has a cell at either end. The cave is ascribable to the first half of the sixth century AD on the basis of the palaeography of the dedicatory inscription on the pedestal of the Buddha image.
The hall has one main entrance and two side-doors with wide windows in between. The decoration of the main door, executed in the style of that of Cave 1 but bolder, is one of the most elaborate to be found at Ajanta caves
. The outermost compartment of the jamb is sculptured with a female figure with an attendant at the bottom, boldly-carved standing couples, flying pairs and sala-bhanjikas. The lintel is decorated with seated figures of Buddha and ganas, while the topmost band has five chaitya-window motifs, three of them containing figures of Buddha
. At the upper corners of the door frame are the bracket-figures of sardulas with riders.
To the right of the door is a rectangular panel carved with a standing figure of Avalokitesvara at the centre, with worshippers praying to him for deliverance -from the Eight Great Perils. The Bodhisattva holds in his jatantukuta a Dhyani-Buddha in the dharma-chakra-pravartana-mudra (teaching pose) and not in the appropriate dhyana (meditation) attitude. It is clear, therefore, that iconographical canons had not yet crystallized into rigid forms. In the two top corners of the panel are two seated figures of Buddha, with a third one above within a chaitya-window. To the other side of the door can be seen another panel carved with the figure of Buddha in the teaching attitude. The jambs and the lintel of the windows are also delicately carved.
The hall has twenty-eight pillars arranged in a square, which, with the exception of a few richly-carved columns on the back row, are similar to those in the verandah. On the three sides of the hall are hewn a number of cells, many of which can be seen at different stages of excavation.
The shrine, relieved with the figures of Buddha at places, has also a colossal image of Buddha in teaching attitude flanked by Vajrapani and Padmapani the latter with an ajina. In front of the seat is a congregation of devotees, including monks. The door-jambs and lintel are decorated with figures of Buddha. The walls of the antechamber are carved with six gigantic standing figures of Buddhas, two of them unfinished, with the right hands in the abhaya-mudra and the left holding the hem of the garment. These figures of Buddha along with those in the shrine originally bore paintings, traces of which still linger in patches. The verandah was also once painted.