Friday, 17 July 2015

Ajanata Caves

Indian architectures has always marveled me, the pomp and glory of each of the monuments with its rich culture and history in itself is astonishing and astounding.indeed i marvel about ineffable geniuses who build those articulately beautiful structures strong enough to exist even to this day.Recently I had a chance of visiting the Ajanta Caves which ensembles the Buddhist rock-cut cave temples and monasteries encompassing some of the worlds most extraordinary wall paintings and the best masterpieces of Buddhist art.
The Ajanta Caves (75°40’ N; 20°30’ E) are situated at a distance of 107 km north of Aurangabad, the district headquarters.The Ajanta Caves were carved in the 2nd century BC out of a horseshoe-shaped cliff along the Waghora River.These caves were discovered by an Army Officer in the Madras Regiment of the British Army in 1819 during one of his hunting expeditions.In all, total 30 excavations were shewn out of rock which also include an unfinished one. Out of these, five (cave no. 9, 10, 19, 26, and 29) are chaityagrihas and the rest are viharas.
Cave 1 is a magnificently painted Vihara (monastery), filled with wall murals, sculptures, and ceiling paintings, that date back to the 5th century. Preserved inside the caves are many masterpieces of Buddhist art. Some reflect the earlier Theravada tradition of depicting the Buddha only in symbolic form such as a throne or footprints. Others, the Mahayana caves, feature colorful murals and statues depicting the life (and former lives) of the Buddha and various Bodhisattvas.

The figure above depicts one of the most beloved bodhisattvas, Avalokitesvara.

The painting techniques at Ajanta are similar to European fresco technique. The primary difference is that the layer of plaster was dry when it was painted. First, a rough plaster of clay, cow dung, and rice husks were pressed on to the rough cave walls. This was then coated with lime juice in order to create a smooth working surface. The dark outlines of the figures were then added followed by a pallete of only 6 colors. The pigments the artists used came from natural resources: red and yellow ocher, crushed green malachite, blue lapis lazuli, etc.

In 1983, UNESCO World Heritage Centere selected the Ajanta Caves to be a part of their preservation endeavors. Today, the caves at Ajanta remain one of the most visited architectural sites in India. They are a living representation of one of the grandest artistic styles in Indian art and history.

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