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The Ajanta Cave Paintings

Listed under Art Collections in Maharashtra, India.

Photo of The Ajanta Cave Paintings
Photo by UNESCO
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At first glance, the Ajanta caves appear a little austere, cut squarely into the wall of a huge, jagged, grey ravine in the deserted woodland outside the village of Ajintha in India. However, closer inspection reveals not row upon row of rock-cut burial chambers but a network of richly decorated, other-worldly rooms which once formed a monastic complex. There are 29 caves in all, varying in size and shape, scaling the rock face above a mountain stream.

The Buddhist and secular art works here date back to the 2nd century BC, but the stylised shapes and colours have been unbelievably well preserved and bring the stories, and thereby the whole culture of their time to life on the dark stone.

Many of the caves contain sculptures and frescoes which depict scenes from the lives of Buddha (known as the Jataka tales) and stories of great religious figures. Decorative, geometric patterns and animals are also present as borders and in the columns which front some of the caves, several of which are completely covered in paintings from the inside, leaving only the ground blank.

Caves one and two are the most striking, with elaborately decorated facades, porch areas, windows and several doorways. The first is around forty feet long and supported by twelve huge columns cut directly from the rock of the ravine. At the opposite end to the entrance in a huge shrine, a stone sculpture of Buddha, famed for its expressive face, sits as though preaching.

Written by  larapiegeler.

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Ajanta Caves

The first Buddhist cave monuments at Ajanta date from the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. During the Gupta period (5th and 6th centuries A.D.), many more richly decorated caves were added to the original group. The paintings and sculptures of Ajanta, considered masterpieces of Buddhist religious art, have had a considerable artistic influence.

Copyright © UNESCO/World Heritage Centre. All rights reserved.

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