Nestled in the crook of the Charanadari hill in Deccan is a series of
ancient temples and monasteries hewn out of the moutainside. Situated on
the ancient north- south trade route or the dakshinapatha, the tiny
mountain village of Verul - mutated today to Ellora -was a well- known
stopover for traders, priests and pilgrims who plied the route to the
Beginning sometime in the 7th century, when the Chalukyas (AD 553 - 753)
ruled the Deccan, these wayfarers decided to make their presence
permanent. And excavation started on a number of Buddhist chaityas and
viharas. The place found favour with missionaries of other faiths as
well, and over the next five centuries, Hindus and Jains also built
their temples in the rocks there.
A path often tread upon:
Unlike the caves at Ajanta, the Ellora caves were never 'lost'.
Largely because it lay on a more frequented route, Ellora remained in
the public eye. In fact, Kailasa Temple remained a practising shrine
until the 19th century. Several travellers to India including the 10th
century Arab geographer Al Masudi and Niccolao. Manucci in early 17th
century mention the caves in their accounts.
The Caves :
There are 34 caves, of which 12 are Buddhist, 17 Hindu and 5
Jain. The caves all face west, so are best seen in the afternoon. The
Buddhist caves are to your far right as you face the curve of the
Charanadari Hill, then come the Hindu ones, and finally, the Jain cave
temples to the far left.