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24 hits

  • Thumbnail for Ajanta Caves, panorama from the vantage of the first caves
    Ajanta Caves, panorama from the vantage of the first caves

    Standing near the first caves, one sees a series of caves carved out of the rocky hilllside. Some caves functioned as viharas or monasteries, while others were built as chaityas or prayer halls.

  • Thumbnail for Buddha in lotus position, detail of lay devotees carrying offerings
    Buddha in lotus position, detail of lay devotees carrying offerings

    At the base of a buddha figure, lay devotees, men and women, carry offerings, possibly to celebrate the end of the rainy season retreat. The hair of the laypeople is emphasized in these figures perhaps as a contrast to the shaved heads of the monks and nuns.

  • Thumbnail for Parinirvana of the Buddha, cave 26 (close-up 2, without flash)
    Parinirvana of the Buddha, cave 26 (close-up 2, without flash)

    A close-up view of the head of the Buddha at his parinirvana in Cave 26.

  • Thumbnail for Standing Buddha in Stupa, Chaitya Hall, cave 19
    Standing Buddha in Stupa, Chaitya Hall, cave 19

    This standing Buddha figure within a stupa-like structure is placed within a large chaitya hall, a cave where monks gathered for teaching and community ritual practices. The straight, rigid form of this Buddha is reminiscent of figures of Jain tirthankaras, with whom early Buddhist monks shared many ideas and practices. The Buddha is depicted with the royal headdress of an aristocratic person but in the ascetic simplicity of an unclothed body.

  • Thumbnail for Parinirvana of the Buddha, cave 26 (close up)
    Parinirvana of the Buddha, cave 26 (close up)

    A close up of the head of the Buddha at his parinirvana, reclining peacefully on an ornate pillow, with his face toward his disciples and followers.

  • Thumbnail for Painted Padmapani Bodhisattva
    Painted Padmapani Bodhisattva

    In Cave 1, a well-preserved painted mural features this image of Padmapani Bodhisattva, carrying the lotus (padma) in his right hand and viewing the suffering of the world.

  • Thumbnail for Ajanta Caves, sedan chair
    Ajanta Caves, sedan chair

    A weary or infirm tourist or pilgrim can now sit in a sedan chair carried by two men hirerd to carry them up and down the walkway outside the caves.

  • Thumbnail for Ajanta Caves, bridge over dry Waghora Riverbed
    Ajanta Caves, bridge over dry Waghora Riverbed

    The Ajanta Caves were carved out of the rocky hillside surrounding a bend in the Waghora River. During the dry season, the riverbed becomes a footpath but in the rainy season, people wade through the stream over slippery rocks.

  • Thumbnail for Bodhisattva figure
    Bodhisattva figure

    Bodhisattva figures adorn the outer walls of the caves. These bodhisattva figures represent the ideal of leaving one's family, wealth, and social standing to take up the life of a wandering Buddhist mendicant seeking enlightenment

  • Thumbnail for Buddha seated in teaching pose
    Buddha seated in teaching pose

    Seated in a throne-like setting, the Buddha is depicted with his hands in the teaching pose. His feet rest on a lotus, symbol of enlightenment, and supernatural beings are carved around him, ostensibly also attending to his teachings. The throne was constructed in the shape of a stupa within the cave, with ample room around it for monks and pilgrims to circumambulate the image.

  • Thumbnail for Auspicious figures on cave doorway, amorous couple (detail)
    Auspicious figures on cave doorway, amorous couple (detail)

    Around the entranceways to the caves are figures of amorous couples symbolizing the good fortune of fertility and happiness. Sitting comfortably with the bodies touching, the woman leans against her partner's knee, while he reaches to stroke her face. Lotuses frame the scene.

  • Thumbnail for Painted Maitreya Buddha
    Painted Maitreya Buddha

    The last in a series of painted buddhas and bodhisattvas framing the doorway above one of the caves, the royal Maitreya, buddha of a future age, is seated in a lotus position. His right hand may be held in the varada mudra, the gesture of compassion.

  • Thumbnail for Painted Bodhisattva on pillar, close-up
    Painted Bodhisattva on pillar, close-up

    The pillars inside this cave display many figures of Buddhist monks as bodhisattvas and buddhas. These monks wear the traditional monastic robe covering one shoulder. The bodhisattva holds the lotus, symbol of enlightenment.

  • Thumbnail for Buddha in lotus position behind doorway with pillars
    Buddha in lotus position behind doorway with pillars

    In a cave within a cave, the Buddha sits on a pedastal behind a doorway carved with buddhas and bodhisattvas in various poses. Two deer lie below him on the pedastal and the entranceway pillars are carved to create the royal setting of a palace.

  • Thumbnail for Auspicious figures on door lintel
    Auspicious figures on door lintel

    Carved auspicious figures frame the entranceways to several of the caves. These figures include amorous couples, apsaras and gandharvas, and leaping horses. These figures associate the caves with good fortune.

  • Thumbnail for Ajanta Caves, panorama view from the vantage of the earliest caves
    Ajanta Caves, panorama view from the vantage of the earliest caves

    A view of the series of caves from the perspective of the earliest caves in the group. Though not visible in this photo, the builders constructed small channels through the caves to guide water from the waterfalls into and through the living areas for the convenience of the monks.

  • Thumbnail for Buddha in seated lotus position, behind unadorned rectangular doorway
    Buddha in seated lotus position, behind unadorned rectangular doorway

    This Buddha figure, seated in the lotus position, is an early sculpture demonstrating the dharmacakra mudra, the hand gesture of teaching. A traditional depiction of the Buddha Sakyamuni as Teacher.

  • Thumbnail for Painted Bodhisattva on pillar
    Painted Bodhisattva on pillar

    The pillars inside this cave display many figures of Buddhist monks as bodhisattvas and buddhas. These monks wear the traditional monastic robe covering one shoulder. The bodhisattva holds the lotus, symbol of enlightenment.

  • Thumbnail for Auspicious figures on door lintel, amorous couple (detail)
    Auspicious figures on door lintel, amorous couple (detail)

    Images of amorous couples adorn the outer entrances to several of the caves. These couples are understood to be auspicious symbols of good fortune, fertility and prosperity.

  • Thumbnail for Auspicious figures on door lintel, amorous couple
    Auspicious figures on door lintel, amorous couple

    Images of amorous couples adorn the outer entrances to several of the caves. These couples are understood to be auspicious symbols of good fortune, fertility and prosperity.

  • Thumbnail for Buddha in lotus position behind doorway
    Buddha in lotus position behind doorway

    This Buddha figure was carved to appear seated on a pedastal behind an ornate doorway carved with bodhisattva figures in different poses, sitting and standing. This Buddha hands are held in the dharmacakra mudra, the gesture of teaching.

  • Thumbnail for Auspicious figures on cave doorway, woman in Tribunga pose under tree
    Auspicious figures on cave doorway, woman in Tribunga pose under tree

    This female yakshi represents the auspicious fertility of the earth as she stands under the canopy of a fruit-laden tree, possibly mango. Auspicious symbols surround the entranceways to the caves, making these caves also auspcious places to dwell.

  • Thumbnail for Ajanta Caves, pilgrims
    Ajanta Caves, pilgrims

    In this photo, several Tibetan women are seen walking behind an Indian woman visiting the Ajanta Caves. Pilgrims and tourists travel to this historic site and walk the series of caves in all seasons. Pilgrims from many different Buddhist cultures often perform ritual prayers as they visit individual caves.

  • Thumbnail for Parinirvana of the Buddha, cave 26
    Parinirvana of the Buddha, cave 26

    This carving of the parinirvana of the Buddha Sakyamuni includes figures of monks receiving teaching from the Buddha, emphasizing the importance of the Buddha as a teacher even as he was dying. Cave 26.