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.
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
These two metal baskets used for the child weighing ritual are connected by a thick rope positioned over the strong limb of a tree in the courtyard of the dargah. [For description of the ritual, see cbind0043.]
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.
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.
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.
The speakers visible in this photo are used to announce the call to prayer.
Sign in English and Hindi for the Tomb of the last Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. Behind this sign is a small sign explaining that anyone who vandalizes this monument will be subject to imprisonment of up to three months, a fine of up to 5000 rupees [more than $100], or both.
Passages from the Qur'an are used as decorations and as reminders of the presence of God in homes and in public places, as well as in mosques.
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.
In the courtyard of the dargah is this black stone yoni with a hole where a linga would have been attached. According to local legend, this dargah was erected on land that had previousy supported a Hindu Temple. The Muslim builders were able to remove the linga but the yoni base was too heavy and too firmly entrenched in the ground to move. The dargah was built and this Hindu symbol of female divine energy remains in the courtyard as a reminder of past history.
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.
A senior qawwali singer is joined by other men to sing qawwals in praise of God, the Prophet, and Sufi saints. This was an impromptu qawwali performed with men who happened to be at the dargah.
Buddhist monks lived in small room on the upper levels of this vihara, or monastery.
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.
Magnificent banyan tree near Sona Bai's well.
This sign in the courtyard of the mosque complex explains that this area contains the Shrine of the saint, Zainuddin, and the tomb of the son of Aurangzeb, Azamshah. The sign is written in English, Hindi, and Urdu.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Manu Stambha stands just inside the temple courtyard.
Photo of a man with a cart in the interior of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, Yonghegong, Beijing.
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.
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.