Ellora, considered the finest examples of rock-cut architecture, comprises  Hindu, Buddhist and Jain caves that were chiselled between the 4th and the 9th century. Of the 34 caves, 12 are Buddhist, 17 Hindu and 5 Jain, and date back to the Rashtrakuta dynasty, about 1,500 years ago. They were declared a World Heritage Site in 1983, and are now maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Buddhist Caves

Carved between the 6th and 7th century BCE, these structures are mostly viharas or monasteries. Some of these include shrines carved with images of Lord Buddha and bodhisattvas. Cave 5 is considered the most important. It consists of a long hall with two benches longer than 18 m in the centre. This cave was probably where group recitations of Buddhist sutras took place. The intricately carved Cave 10, popularly known as Vishvakarma (the architect of gods), contains a huge Buddha image in front of the stupa. It also features a rock-cut balcony. Caves 11 and 12, are known as Don Taal and Teen Taal respectively, and are quite striking. They are three-storeyed and beautifully showcase esoteric monastic Buddhist architecture.

Hindu Caves

Excavated during the rule of the Kalachuri, Chalukya and Rashtrakuta rulers, these caves are home to numerous noteworthy sculptures and contain traces of plaster suggesting that the sculptures were painted. Prominent caves include 14, 15, 16, 21 and 29. Cave 14 contains sculptural panels adorned with Hindu deities. Cave 16, known as the Kailasa, is the piece de resistance. A monolithic rock-cut structure, it looks like a multi-storeyed temple complex. The spectacular courtyard houses two life-size elephant statues as well as two victory pillars. The side walls are decorated with sculpted panels. 

Cave 21, or the Rameshwar cave, is adorned with images of Ganga and Yamuna. Cave 29, locally famous as Sita ki Nahani, is unique in elevation and plan, and resembles the great cave at Elephanta. It has a number of impressive statues as well.

Jain Caves 

These are caves number 30 to 34. Cave 32 or the Indra Sabha, though unfinished, is the most spectacular here. The upper storey of the cave is one of the largest and the most elaborate with beautiful pillars, large sculptural panels and paintings on its ceiling. Among all the Ellora caves, the Jain caves have the largest number of wall paintings on extant ceilings.

Other Attractions in Aurangabad