There’s perhaps no other country in this world that is as mesmerizing as India. While modern India is showcasing her prowess in every field from arms and weapons to information technology, from economic growth to incredible diversity, her ancient past has something more incredible. From Vedas to epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana, from awe-inspiring temples to jaw-dropping scientific discoveries, ancient India was full of surprises. The whole world owes to India whether they accept it or not. In this article, we will walk back in time and take a glimpse of 5 stunning rock cut cave temples of India that scream unparalleled engineering genius and the rich cultural heritage of of the country. Let us start…
1. Stunning Rock Cut Cave Temples of India: Ellora Caves
The grandeur of India’s cultural heritage oozes out from the Ellora Caves. These rock cut caves in the district of Aurangabad in state of Maharashtra are epitomes of near-impossible engineering feat of the ancient Indians. It is also a screaming testament of India’s history of religious tolerance (that has been to a great extent, twisted by modern day sickulars (not seculars) who consider themselves as the elite class).
Ellora Caves have more than 100 rock cut caves out of which, 34 are publicly accessible. Carved out in Charanandri Hills, the 34 caves that are open for public access include 17 cave temples of Hindus, 12 cave temples of Buddhists 5 of Jains.
These monasteries and temples are so intricately carved out that they, at times, look like wooden carvings. The most stunning of all is the Kailāsanātha or Kailasanatha Temple, which is the world’s largest megalithic temple carved out of a single rock. Resembling the structure of Mount Kailash, the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is considered to be the supreme God. This temple in particular has managed to dumbfound every archaeologist and scholar who visited the temple. Aerial surveys of the temple has managed to showcase a pattern even from the bird’s eye view.
For those who are a bit religious or for those who simply admire ancient architecture, this is a must-visit of the many stunning rock cut cave temples of India.
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2. Stunning Rock Cut Cave Temples of India: Ajanta Caves
If there are any other rock cut cave temples that can seriously challenge the grandeur of Ellora Caves, it is none other than the Ajanta Caves. Also located in Maharashtra along the Waghora River, the Ajanta Caves are a collection of 30 caves that have been carved out in solid rock. Home to some of the most exquisite Buddhist Art masterpieces, the Ajanta Caves were abandoned somewhere in 650 CE. They were rediscovered again 1819 by the British. Though time has taken a serious toll on the elaborate narrative paintings and poetry ornamenting every surface except the floor, the Ajanta Caves are just another example of architectural marvels of ancient India.
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3. Stunning Rock Cut Cave Temples of India: Barabar Caves
This list of 5 rock cut cave temples of India is nowhere even close to being complete. But, in this opening article, we cannot miss out the Barabar Caves located in Bihar. These caves were carved out during the ancient Mauryans. What appears to be laser-cut, the Barabar Caves have been carved out in such fashion that one can easily consider them as woodwork. Unfortunately, that’s not true. The caves have been carved out on a granite rock and depict India’s longstanding policy of religious tolerance. Despite being Buddhist caves, the Barabar Caves also allowed Jains to flourish under the same hood.
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4. Stunning Rock Cut Cave Temples of India: Badami Caves
In Karnataka’s northern part, there is a district called Bagalkot. That’s where the Badami Cave Temples are located. These cave temples are a complete complex of 4 Hindu temples, a Jain temple and possibly a Buddhist cave temple. Built during the Chalukya Dynasty rule. Cave 3 in particular of the Badami Caves is the largest and it offers some exquisite knowledge on Lord Vishnu, who is considered as the God who preserves this creation. The caves are carved out on soft sandstone cliffs. The caves are examples of bespoke Chalukya architecture belonging to 6th to 8th century.
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5. Stunning Rock Cut Cave Temples of India: Jogeshwari Caves
One of the earliest Hindu and Buddhist cave temples to be found in India are the Jogeshwari Caves in bustling Mumbai’s suburb – Jogeshwari. Assumed to be around 1,500 years old, these cave temples, on one hand, represent Mahayana Buddhist Architecture’s last stages and also represents a major Shrine of Lord Shiva – the supreme God in Hinduism. There are several sculptures and pillars that represent Buddhist architecture. This cave complex is a rival of the caves of the likes of Ellora and Ajanta but it has recently been threatened by garbage and sewage from the nearby slums, gradually eating away the foundations of the caves.
We are not done with our list of rock cut cave temples of India. We will return with another list or two to cover the most popular ones in India.
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- Kailasanatha Temple
- Ajanta Caves:By No machine-readable author provided. Soman assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY 2.5, Link
- Barabar Caves:By Photo Dharma from Penang, Malaysia (061 Lomas Rishi Cave) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
- Badami Caves: By Sanyam Bahga – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
- Jogeshwari Caves:By Himanshu Sarpotdar – originally posted to Flickr as Jogeshwari Caves, CC BY 2.0, Link