By Sanjeev Nayyar Sanjeev@esamskriti.com | 2018

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1. This album covers cave no 21, 22, 14, 15 of which the last two are more famous. Cave 29, also Hindu, presented separately because lots of pics. Visited in June 2018. Entrance to cave 21. This one is impressive. Cave is locally known as ‘Rameshvara’, is dedicated to Shiva & excavated in the 7th century. Smaller caves on right nothing worthwhile.

2. It has sculptured pillars with a Siva Linga inside, richly carved pillars & pilasters. A panel of river Goddess executed outside the cave is a must see. Elaborately carved door frame with floral decoration guarded by massive figures & sculptured channels is the main feature of this cave.

3. Nandi platform which is in the middle of the courtyard has figures of Gods & Goddesses on all sides. Note the pillars behind.

4. External panel. Every pillar has sculptures & images.

5. Hall inside cave. Right is sanctum. Close to sanctum entrance are sculptures of Ravana lifting Kailash & Shiva Parvati playing dice. Centre of pic on both sides have sculptures.

6. Left is dancing Shiva, centre is Saptmatrika. Should have taken an angular pic which got both.

7. This is at the other end of hall. Shows Shiva as Brahmachari form.

8. Decorated pillars. Behind that two huge guards. Sanctum panel is well decorated, lower part has threw ladies. Missed taking a close up.

9. Ravana lifting Mount Kailash with Shiva and Parvati sitting on the holy mountain. It is a very common theme in Ellora. Right of pic see legs of guard.

10. Mahisasurmardini. This is Deviroop killing the Asura who is in the form of a Mahisha (i.e. male buffalo) so she is known as Mahishasuramardini. Mahisa is a male buffalo, asura is demon, mardhini means slay.

11. Richly carved pillar.

12. Cave 22 is small. Dedicated to Shiva so Nandi outside cave. Never seen a Nandi covered like this.

13. Lingam inside sanctum.

14. Inside rock and external to cave looks like a guard.

15. Cave no 14 is called ‘Ravan ki Khai’ because of the sculpture of Ravana shaking Mount Kailash. Like on right of pic walls of cave have compartments that have sculptured compositions, of both Vishnu & Siva. Wall of the hall has a panel with 7 divine mothers indicates prevalence of Sakti worship. Lady u see lost her husband in Naxal violence, now works here–helps take care of herself & 2 children.

16. Cave size 13.6. by 8.6 metres was probably dedicated to Sakti worship because there is a great emphasis of female divinities.

17. On either side of entrance is this image – Durga with her vahan (carrier) Simha. Durga is one of the forms of Goddess Parvati. Her right foot placed on the lion & holding a Trisula in one of her hand with her pearl-decked coiffutre & bejewelled body, she is poised by the holding the mouth of a buffalo and fighting it with grim determination.

18. Left side 4 panels, 1st was Durga. Next is Gajalakshmi seated on a lotus with 4 armed attendants holding pitchers whilst the elephants are sprinkling water over her. (missed taking this pic) Centre is Varaha avatar of Lord Vishnu. 4th panel is Lord Vishnu with his 2 wives, Sridevi and Bhudevi. (missed taking this pic).

19. Close-up of Varaha avatar sculpture. He is shown as holding aloft, in one of his hands, the Goddess of Earth while the sea creatures express gratitude with folded hands for rescuing Earth from the deluge caused by the demons.

20. Musicians. Please help with caption.

21. Musicians with garud. Please help with details.

22. Right hand side bag opposite is Shiva panel overview. Same cave has both Shiva and Vishnu. Right panel back-end has figure Virabhadra, one of the angry and destructive aspects of Siva (too dark so could not click).

23. Celebrated dance of Siva and his vigorous & vibrant movements. The guardians of the 8 directions are depicted above and Parvati is seen reclining gracefully against a pillar.

24. Ravana shaking Kailasha with Shiva Parvati sitting atop their abode.

25. Shiva Parvati playing dice. The representation of frolicking ganas below is extremely evocative.

26. Durga is one of the forms of Goddess Parvati. Her right foot placed on the lion & holding a Trisula in one of her hand with her pearl-decked coiffutre & bejewelled body, she is poised by the holding the mouth of a buffalo and fighting it with grim determination.

27. Figures guarding the doorway to shrine. It is either Goddess Ganga & Yamuna standing on their respective mounts accompanied by flying figures & dwarfs. Siva linga missing in the shrine & in its place a loose sculpture of devi is planted.

28. Cave has horizontal panel of the seated figure of Saptamatrikas, the 7 Mother Goddesses, each shown with a child on the lap (Brahmi, Maheshvari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Indrani & Chamundi). After them is Ganesha, son of Siva & Kala & Kali, the male and female form of death & these 2 dreadful forms are brought out vividly.

29. Entrance to cave no 15 known as Dasavatara Cave because of the various incarnations of Vishnu – belongs to the 8th century A.D. U see rock-cut gateway-ends in a courtyard in which is a Natya Mandapa (Hall of Dance). It was excavated during the period of Dantidurga (middle of 8th century).

30. Has double storeys. Ground floor has nothing of significance. First floor is dedicated to Shiva. Side wall divided into compartments. Northern side dedicated to Shiva and southern to Vishnu. They have sculptured panels in bold relief. Pillared hall has a Nandi.

31. As I entered cave saw courtyard and Hall of Dance. Ground floor with 3 rows of pillars and 4 cells on the back wall is extremely plain in contrast to the rich architectural details of the verandah pillars and sculptures on the 1st storey.

32. Top view. Has lions on the terrace and sculptures all around.

33. First floor entrance. There are compartments on either side – one side has Shiva and other Vishnu. Sculptures of this cave are more virile & energetic as if the entire body released pent up energy. This sort of surging fore becomes the dominant force in the following phases of Rashtrakuta art.

34. Andhakasura demon destruction or Andhakasura Vadh Murti.

35. Lingodbhava murti (emergence of Siva from Linga). Left is Brahma. Right is Vishnu. Their supplication before the emergent Siva from the Linga suggest the supreme position of the Saivite sect during the Rashtrakuta period.

36. Tripurantak Murti or destruction of Tripura demon.

37. U see Varaha the third avatar of Lord Vishnu in the form of a Boar. Varaha’s depicted in art either as either purely animal or as being anthropomorphic, having a boar’s head on a man’s body. The avatar symbolises the resurrection of the Earth from a pralaya (deluge) and the establishment of a new kalpa (cosmic cycle).

38. Nandi facing the sanctum.

39. Vamana is the 5th avatar of Lord Vishnu. Also saw in Badami too. Vamana who covered the universe in two strides & crushed the demon kind, Mahabali, with his third step.

40. Narasimha avatar of Lord Vishnu. U see him destroying demon Hirankyakasipu. This is one of the finest art work-look closely. The frightening scene is transformed into a dance form with twisted bodies swaying towards each other & inter-locked legs.

41. Decorated pillar. Has animals, ladies, top centre has person sitting in Yogic posture. Like to thank guide Madhushudan Patil for helping with captions. Suggested guides-M Patil 91 75881 97664, Ram Krishna also speaks in Tamil, Japanese, Telegu 91 75881 96674, Amol Basole for Foreign/NRI tourist 91 94222 10571.

42. Decorated pillar. For captions also referred to a book by T.V. Pathy titled ‘Ajanta, Ellora and Aurangabad Caves, an Appreciation’.

43. Reliefs on the wall.

44. Somewhere in cave. Help with caption.

45. Gajalaxmi. Ellora Caves must visit.

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