Ellora Caves is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India. It is one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world, featuring Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monuments, and artwork, dating from the 600–1000 CE period. Ellora, also called Verul or Elura, is the short form of the ancient name Elapura. The older form of the name has been found in ancient references such as the Baroda inscription of 812 CE which mentions “the greatness of this edifice” and that “this great edifice was built on a hill by Krishnaraja at Elapura.
Cave 16, in particular, features the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world, the Kailasha temple, a chariot shaped monument dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Kailasha temple excavation also features sculptures depicting the gods, goddesses and mythologies found in Vaishnavism, Shaktism as well as relief panels summarizing the two major Hindu Epics.
There are over 100 caves at the Ellora Caves, all excavated from the basalt cliffs in the Charanandri Hills, 34 of which are open to public. They were construct close to one another and illustrate the religious harmony that existed in ancient India. These consist of 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12), 17 Hindu (caves 13–29) and 5 Jain (caves 30–34) caves, each group representing deities and mythologies prevalent in the 1st millennium CE, as well as monasteries of each respective religion.
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