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  • Thumbnail for Ellora Hindu Caves, wedding of Shiva and Parvati
    Ellora Hindu Caves, wedding of Shiva and Parvati

    Shiva takes Parvati's hand to lead her around the sacred fire to solemnize their wedding. Attending the ceremony are dozens of celestial apsaras and gandharvas to dance and sing, as well as Brahma and Vishnu at Shiva's left. The couple standing next to Parvati may be her parents, Himalaya and Meena.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora Buddhist Caves, Assembly Hall
    Ellora Buddhist Caves, Assembly Hall

    This cave appears to have been excavated as a gathering places for the monks. Along the middle of the cave run two long stone benches where monks would have sat to eat, listen to teachings, chant, etc. Like others in this series, this cave demonstrates that large numbers of monks congregated in this area.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora Buddhist Caves, Teen Tal, close up
    Ellora Buddhist Caves, Teen Tal, close up

    Buddhist monks lived in small room on the upper levels of this vihara, or monastery.

  • Thumbnail for Bhajan singing 2
    Bhajan singing 2

    As noted in the description for Bhajan singing 1, audience members as well as singers are wrapped in woolen shawls enjoying the devotional songs in the winter night air.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora Buddhist Caves, Teen Tala, long view
    Ellora Buddhist Caves, Teen Tala, long view

    One of the most impressive caves is number 12, called Teen Tala, fashioned as a vihara with three levels of monastic living quarters positioned around a central prayer hall. Accomodating about 40 monks, Teen Tala gives the viewer a sense of the large monastic community that was active here.

  • Thumbnail for Kailash Cave Temple, painted Shiva Nataraj
    Kailash Cave Temple, painted Shiva Nataraj

    A brightly painted image on an inside pillar in the area outside the inner sanctum presents a lively image of the dancing Shiva Nataraj. In some parts of the temple, the ancient pigments seem to have been preserved, probably due to their placement in areas protected from the elements.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Datta Temple, gray Makara
    Ellora, Datta Temple, gray Makara

    On a pillar of the temple is this gray makara, a mythical aquatic beast associated with the Ganges gharial, a species of crocodile. The makara is associated with Kamadeva, god of desire, as well as the goddess Ganga and the Vedic god of the sea, Varuna.

  • Thumbnail for Kailash Cave Temple, amorous couple 1
    Kailash Cave Temple, amorous couple 1

    Auspicious figures of amorous couples in small stone niches adorn the magnificent Kailash Cave Temple, cave #16 in the series of Ellora Caves. These figures represent fertility and good fortune for all who see them.

  • Thumbnail for Kailash Cave Temple, Manu Stambha
    Kailash Cave Temple, Manu Stambha

    The Manu Stambha stands just inside the temple courtyard.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Jain Temple, guru poster photo
    Ellora, Jain Temple, guru poster photo

    The guru of this temple, a digambara monk, is shown on this poster with the broom he uses to brush small animals and insects from his path in order not to harm any living being.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Jain Caves, Mahavira
    Ellora, Jain Caves, Mahavira

    Mahavira, the 24th Jain tirthankara, is depicted in a seated position with back straight and eyes lowered under a double canopy. Stylized lions are at his feet.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Jain Caves, Yaksha's elephant seat
    Ellora, Jain Caves, Yaksha's elephant seat

    The yaksha guardian, Matanga, sits on a grand elephant who has knelt to offer his back as a seat for the yaksha. The sculptor has placed a lotus bud in the trunk of the elephant to show his docile nature in the presence of this yaksha protector.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora Buddhist Caves, Chaitya Hall, ribbed ceiling
    Ellora Buddhist Caves, Chaitya Hall, ribbed ceiling

    Cave #10 demonstrates an interesting transition from chaityas constructed with wood to these rock-cut cave structures. The craftsmen sculpted these stone riblike arcs on the ceiling of the cave to resemble the curved roof supports of a wooden chaitya.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora Buddhist Caves, Chaitya Hall entrance, near view
    Ellora Buddhist Caves, Chaitya Hall entrance, near view

    This ornate entranceway to Chaitya Hall would have received large numbers of monks and pilgrims. Today, children on school field trips climb through the stone passageways to learn about the history of these early communities.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora Buddhist Caves, Chaitya Hall, seated Buddha in stupa
    Ellora Buddhist Caves, Chaitya Hall, seated Buddha in stupa

    Inside Cave #10, the Buddha is seated on a lion throne within a stupa. The Buddha is shown in the teaching posture in this hall. Celestial beings surround him and bodhisattvas stand at his side.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora Hindu Caves, wedding of Shiva and Parvati, close-up
    Ellora Hindu Caves, wedding of Shiva and Parvati, close-up

    A closeup of the wedding ceremony of Shiva and Parvati. See also cbind0102.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Datta Temple
    Ellora, Datta Temple

    Datta, a combination of Vishnu, Brahma, and Siva, is a god most familiar in Maharashtra. While most Hindu temples display images of various gods and goddesses throughout, as does this temple, this Datta Temple places all three gods in its innermost shrine, reserved for the primary deity of the temple. The ancient sacred Sanskrit syllable, AUM, is placed above the doorway to the inner sanctum. The intense orange-yellow color dominating the temple assoicates with ascetic practices.

  • Thumbnail for Kailash Cave Temple, Kamadeva and Rati with sugarcane bow
    Kailash Cave Temple, Kamadeva and Rati with sugarcane bow

    The god of desire, Kamadeva, and his consort, Rati, are carved on the inside of the couryard wall for visitors just entering, or just leaving the temple complex. Between Kama and Rati is the god's weapon, a sugarcane bow, which is sheltering them with its bower of leaves.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Jain Caves, Yaksha Elephant detail
    Ellora, Jain Caves, Yaksha Elephant detail

    Held in the trunk of the elephant is a lotus symboliizing spiritual pursuits and a gentle nature. Placing this lotus in the trunk of this wild and powerful beast, the sculptor may be commenting on the greater power of the Jain practice of non-violence toward all creatures.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Ganapati Temple, inner sanctum doorway
    Ellora, Ganapati Temple, inner sanctum doorway

    The small inner shrine of the temple is set off from the rest of the temple by this decorated doorway. Devotees ring the bell to announce their presence to the god and then step over the door frame to perform their puja and receive darshan. Barely visible just inside the door is the image of the elephant-faced deity.

  • Thumbnail for Kailash Cave Temple, Gandharvas accompanying Kamadeva and Rati
    Kailash Cave Temple, Gandharvas accompanying Kamadeva and Rati

    Next to an image of Kamadeva, god of desire, and his consort, Rati, is this panel containing apsarases and these gandharvas, heavenly creatures also associated with sensuality, music, and desire.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Datta Temple, Linga and Nandin
    Ellora, Datta Temple, Linga and Nandin

    On a pillar of the temple, Shiva's bull, Nandin, protects a Shiva Linga.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Jain Caves, yaksha guardian
    Ellora, Jain Caves, yaksha guardian

    All tirthankaras are depicted with a yaksha (male earth spirit) and yakshini (female). This yaksha, probably Matanga who is associated with Mahavira, guards one side of a large balcony entrance to the cave's expansive second floor with a central Mahavira shrine. On the other side of the balcony entrance is his female counterpart, the yakshini, Siddhayika. The yaksha, a powerful earth deity, sits on the strong elephant who acts as his throne. This yaksha is framed by a canopy formed by the leaves of a lush tree.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Jain Temple, Parshvanatha tirthankara close-up
    Ellora, Jain Temple, Parshvanatha tirthankara close-up

    The serenity of this tirthankara, Parshvanatha, is depicted here in the symmetrical smooth lines of the image and in his absolute quiet in the protection of the deadly cobra. Parshvanatha exemplifies the Jain practice of non-violence as a digambara monk at peace with even the most dangerous creatures.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Jain Caves, yakshini guardian
    Ellora, Jain Caves, yakshini guardian

    Seated opposite her male counterpart, this protective yakshini, Siddhayika, acts as an entrance protector to the second floor shrine to Mahavira. She sits on a lion under the canopy of a mango tree heavy with fruit. Identified with the fertility of the earth, this female earth spirit holds a child on her lap (now missing its head).