AJANTA CAVES 4,6,7,9,10,11,19

By Sanjeev Nayyar Sanjeev@esamskriti.com | 2018

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1. Cave no 4. Door-frame -top has ladies looks like dancing pose, below flying pairs, boldy-carved standing couples & sala-bhanjikas. Above window topmost band has 5 chaitya-window motifs, 3 of the containing figures of Buddha. Upper corners of door-frame are bracket figures of sardulas with riders (broken). Right of pic is Avalokitesvara with worshippers praying to him for deliverance from the 8 Great Perils. Left is figure of Buddha in teaching attitude.

2. This is the largest monastery at Ajanta, incomplete though. It has a huge hall & image of Buddha in preaching pose flanked by Bodhisattvas, & celestial nymphs hovering above. Buddha figure is in boon giving pose. The ceiling of the hall preserves a unique geographical feature of lava flow called ropy. The cave was once painted & traces can be noticed.

3. Hall with Buddha in centre. It has 28 pillars. On 3 directions of hall are number of cells, many of which can be seen at different stages of excavation. Cave is ascribable to the 1st half of the 6th century A.D.

4. Front pillars, centre Buddha in teaching attitude, walls of the antechamber and next to door panel have 6 gigantic standing figures of Buddha.

5. A very close up of Buddha. Smart use of light makes the figures look attractive. Door panel has figures of Buddha. On either side of panel are Buddha with right side in the abhay mudra and the left holding the hem of the garment. Left figures shows two devotees offering pranams.

6. Loved this Buddha look in teaching attitude. Top are celestial nymphs on both sides. Buddha flanked by Vajrapani & Padmapani. Door panel has figures of Buddha.

7. On side of door panel and to its left & right are Buddha figures. Buddha with right side in the abhay mudra and the left holding the hem of the garment.

8. View of hall – left is Buddha figure, right is incomplete cells. A couple of pillars near sanctum are ornamental, see later. Note ceiling. The ceiling of the hall preserves a unique geographical feature of lava flow called ropy.

9. Pillar has 4 figures one in each corner, behind is sanctum panel. Here person is playing a musical instrument. Could be a Veena but not sure. Notice the hairdo.

10. This looks like a violin. Notice hairdo. Man wearing necklace. In album ‘Ajanta Caves’ covered caves 1&2. This album goes up to cave no 19, 20 to 26 is another album and 16/17 as well. So four albums on Ajanta caves wise.

11. Extreme left is cave no 10. Right of pic is double storeyed cave. U can take way down, cross the bridge and head back to entrance. Cross bridge & u can walk up to Viewing Point. Cave 5 is incomplete, do see for richly carved doorway.

12. Cave 6. It is double storeyed. This is ground floor. Door panel richly carved. The arch is filled with a naga having a pot in hand & garland-bearing flying figures. Buddha image in teaching attitude.

13. Close of Buddha, ceiling shows signs of being painted. I think this describes part above door panel - Over the door of the sanctuary is an ornamental arch springing from the mouths of makaras resting on 2 carved pilasters supported by yakshas.

14. This is 1st floor. Centre Buddha in teaching attitude, left and right are Buddha with the right hand in the abhay-mudra.

15. Close up of Buddha figure. On either side of door panel are standing Buddha, something similar to what we saw in cave no 4. Next to standing Buddha are devotees, 1 on left and 2 on right. Kneeling figure of devotee with incense burner & bunch of lotus buds in his hands deserve special attention though this does not come out clearly in pic.

16. Close up of Buddha. See deers below Buddha – realistically executed.

17. Left of door panel has standing Buddhas that you see.

18. Besides the main shrine, there are 2 chapels containing images of Buddha. This is the first. Top either side are celestial beings. Not sure who the Buddha like figures on either side of Buddha represent.

19. This is second chapel. Door-jamb on either side painted with beautiful figures. Loved the Buddha image – ceiling has signs of painting.

20. Door jamb paintings, shows man and woman. Even in current state looks impressive.

21. Buddha painting. Cave has made Buddha figures in different attitudes. Do see one small standing figure on the left wall of the antechamber i.e. covered with a lime-coat that it gives the appearance of marble. Missed this.

22. Another painting, help with caption.

23. Cave 7. This monastery does not have a hall but 2 small porticos, each supported in front by 2 octagonal pillars. U see seated Buddha with an elliptical halo carved on the back wall. On either side of door panel are seated images of Buddha.

24. Close up of Buddha image. Pranams.

25. Angle view, inside Buddha figure-next to him think are Bodhisattvas. On right of pic i.e. right wall of antechamber are carved with the Miracle of Sravasti. In order to confound the six heretical teachers, Buddha performed a few miracles in the presence of a group of spectators headed by king Prasenjit of Sravasti. See next caption.

26. One of the miracles was his multiplying himself into innumerable Buddhas in different mudras, poised on lotuses. Left wall of antechamber are carved with Miracle of Sravasti (earlier pic was right side).

27. Cave no 9. This is the oldest chaityagriha & is dated to 1st century B.C. It has 23 pillars. The vaulted ceiling originally head wooden beams & rafters. At the centre stands a plain globular stupa on a cylindrical base. Façade wall has a beautiful chaitya-window & figures of Buddha. Pillars & ceilings decorated with paintings of Buddha while walls are decorated with procession of devotees to a stupa & paintings of Buddha.

28. Entrance to chaitya. On either side of arch standing figures of Buddha. Right of pic stupa and other figures are a later development.

29. Chaitya-arches on the façade ie dominated by a ribbed chaitya-window, originally ornamented with wooden lattice-works, a rough idea of which can be gathered from the five chaitya-window motifs above the cornice over the doorway & window. Chaitya-graha assigned to 1st century B.C. though Buddhas added at a later date.

30. Close up of side panel. Standing Buddha in abhaya mudra with other hand holding garment.

31. Inside. Globular stupa on a high cylindrical base. Marks in the vaulted roof suggest it was originally covered with wooden rafters & beams. The crowning members consist of a railing & a harmika, the latter expanded into the shape of an inverted stepped pyramid. Over the harmika were wooden umbrellas. Columns are plain. Remains of paintings can be seen.

32. Painting – men in turbans. Surviving paintings show 2 distinct layers indicating a second attempt at renovation.

33. Painting of Buddha. Caption details taken from books published by Archaeological Survey of India and Ajanta, Ellora and Aurangabad Caves, An Appreciation by T.V. Pathy. Credit to them. I am only the messenger. In case of any errors please mail back.

34. Close up standing Buddha, right side of arch. Stupa that you see is a later addition.

35. From cave 9 view. Centre of pic cave with arch is cave no 26. On left of hill comes a waterfall. At foothill is a lovely a garden.

36. Cave 10. Chaitya ascribable to 2nd century B.C. Chaitya hall has 39 pillars. Stupa is the biggest in Ajanta & is plain & hemispherical in shape. Importance of cave is in preserving early style of Indian paintings. Plain octagonal pillars, ceilings & walls are Buddhist themes, designs, & Jatakas but nothing substantial has survived.

37. Stupa is the largest in Ajanta. The apse has the usual votive stupa, the drum which rises in 2 storeys. But for the missing front face which was possibly in timber, it would have been an impressive chaitya-griha. Columns had paintings.

38. Close up of top portion of stupa. Like cave 9 its ceiling was originally covered with a network of curvilinear wooden beams & rafters.

39. Behind pillars is roof design, in between are paintings essentially images of Buddha. Right pillar has standing & sitting Buddha. Paintings representing Sama Jataka & Chhaddanta Jataka have been identified. Could not see though. Ask your guide to show when visit.

40. Close up of Buddha paintings. There is a wooden railing all along so there is only that close you can go.

41. Paintings different view.

42. View from cave 10. Pathway going up to cave no 1. Well laid out & clean. U cross the bridge, take a left turn and walk towards caves entrance. There is a restaurant there – pretty good.

43. View from inside of cave 11. Next to pillar arch is cave 26. Centre is garden that leads you to the waterfall. Cave assigned to beginning of 5th century A.D. or even earlier.

44. As you enter on right is this panel with three figures of Buddha.

45. Ceiling painting.

46. Verandah wall painting. Think it is painted with large-sized Bodhisattvas with attendants, large portions of paintings being damaged.

47. Buddha in centre.

48. Close up of Buddha image in teaching attitude against an unfinished stupa. The plinth on which rests the simhasana of Buddha, contains the kneeling figure of a devotee. Above Buddha head seem like celestial figures.

49. Japanese tourists with Indian ones. Saw lots of Japanese tourists. Cave no 16 &17 in separate album. Caves 12,13,14,15 are small or in bad shape. We move to cave 19 i.e. worth seeing.

50. Cave 19 was made at end of 5th century. It is one of the most perfect specimens of Buddhist rock-cut architecture. The well carved façade with a small but elegant pillared portico & projected ornate cornice, dominated by the chaitya-window, background of delicately carved friezes, is impressive in conception, detail, and workmanship.

51. Note pillars on right, Buddha to right of entrance (ornate crown held over their heads by flying ganas), Naga couple on left. It orthodoxly maintains the older plan with the only innovation being that image of Buddha is now introduced on the votive stupa. Imitation of wooden adjuncts still persists in the stone ribs of the vaulted ceiling, but the actual use of wood in beams, rafters & crowning umbrellas has been eliminated.

52. Nagaraja with his consort on a rock & a female chamara-bearer standing on the left. Due to varying depths of the recess, the contrast between the light & shadow esp. the serpent hoods and the crown & lady attendant are artistic highlights. Note man’s hairdo, ear rings, chain around his neck. Lady hair do, necklace, holding in hand think flowers.

53. Right of pic is window to monastery. Centre is YAKSHA. Left is sitting Buddhas.

54. Right of pic is window to monastery. Centre is YAKSHA. Left is sitting Buddhas.

55. Sitting Buddha. Cave 19 is a typical e.g. of sculptured architecture where the required space was provided by removing large quantities of chipped debris.

56. The votive stupa, with an elaborate & elongated drum & a global dome, is carved with the figure of Buddha standing under an arch which springs from mouths of makaras resting on pilasters. The stupa becomes slender & elongated. Note stone ribs of the vaulted ceiling.

57. Pillar semi-circular design. Close up of Buddha. Pillars in the hall are extremely ornate and of Gupta order.

58. Three levels of umbrellas above the stupa. Stupa’s crowning elements consists of a harmika and 3 diminishing chhatravalis supported by figures & surmounted by a finial in the shape of a small stupa with a miniature harmika almost touching the vault.

59. Panel above pillars has Buddha in various mudra postures.

60. Centre is sitting Buddha flanked by I think celestial beings.

61. Panels above pillars with Buddha.

62. Behind pillars walls have paintings.

63. Paintings of Buddha.

64. Even area between vaults were painted with Buddha.

65. Gives you an angular view of pillars with panting in the background. Cave 19 is a perfect model of a sculptured chaitya hall fashioned after a structural proto type.

66. Overview of caves on left going back to cave number 1.

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