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  • 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 Ellora Buddhist Caves, panorama view
    Ellora Buddhist Caves, panorama view

    The Ellora Caves complex contains caves carved and used by Buddhists, Jains, and Hindus. The twelve Buddhist caves at Ellora were excavated over a 500 years period extending from the second to seventh centuries CE. These caves were used by monks who would have been supported by pilgrims and local people. All the Ellora Caves are now maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.

  • Thumbnail for Khuldabad Jalal al-Din Dargah, tree branch, close-up
    Khuldabad Jalal al-Din Dargah, tree branch, close-up

    The saint, Jalal al-Din, is said to have thrown a stick which stuck in the ground and began growing into a tree. As this now magnificent tree is associated with the saint and his healing powers, pilgrims tie colored fabric to its branches as a symbol of their petitions. In particular, women who have been infertile come to this shrine to pray for the blessing of children.

  • Thumbnail for Zar Zari Zar Baksh Dargah, ritual of thanksgiving for child, child balanced with sweetbreads
    Zar Zari Zar Baksh Dargah, ritual of thanksgiving for child, child balanced with sweetbreads

    The child dressed in a beautiful peach dress and blue scarf sits patiently as her weight balances the sweetbreads on the other side, determining the contribution of her familiy to the community. [See cbind0043 for description of this Thanksgiving Ritual.]

  • Thumbnail for Bibi ki Maqbara, entrance sign
    Bibi ki Maqbara, entrance sign

    At the entrance to the shrine, visitors are instructed to remove their shoes and sandals (chapples). The sign in English and Hindi indicates that while you are expected to remove your footwear at this shrine, the shrine takes no responsibility for their care. In other words, perhaps you might want to pay the man at the entrance to watch them for you. It's interesting that the sign is only in English and Hindi, not in Urdu or Marathi.

  • 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 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 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 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 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 Khuldabad Jalal al-Din Dargah, tree
    Khuldabad Jalal al-Din Dargah, tree

    This oddly shaped but magnificent tree is said to have spontaneously begun growing when the saint threw a stick in the courtyard. Women tie colored fabric on its branches as a symbol of their petitions to the saint.

  • Thumbnail for Khuldabad Jalal al-Din Dargah, black yoni
    Khuldabad Jalal al-Din Dargah, black yoni

    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.

  • Thumbnail for Qawwali singer, Taj Muhammad
    Qawwali singer, Taj Muhammad

    Taj Muammad, Khuldabad's senior qawwali singer in January 2003, left Khuldabad as a young teen to study and live with a respected qawwali teacher in Bombay. His Khuldabadi family had recognized his gift as he sang with the local qawwali performers as a boy, and so supported his move to Bombay to learn with a master, an ustad. In his sixties, Taj Muhammad was still singing the somber and spirited melodies in a clear voice, praising God, the Prophet, and early Sufi saints.

  • 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 Kailash Cave Temple, amorous couples series
    Kailash Cave Temple, amorous couples series

    This depiction of a series of amorous couples in different poses brings the fertility and good fortune they represent into the minds of all who see them.

  • 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, Linga between bull horns
    Ellora, Datta Temple, Linga between bull horns

    On a pillar of the temple, a lingam sits between the horns of a bull.

  • 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, Bhagiratha's Penance
    Kailash Cave Temple, Bhagiratha's Penance

    This wall sculpture tells the story of Bhagiratha who practiced penance for eons to purify the sins of his ancestors.

  • Thumbnail for Zar Zari Zar Baksh tomb entrance
    Zar Zari Zar Baksh tomb entrance

    The doorway opens into a closed circular room housing a sarcophagus to represent the tomb of the saint, Zar Zari Zar Baksh. A domed roof covers this tomb shrine. Men enter this room and pray next to the tomb while women pray at the doorway. Both men and women are touched with a peacock feather on each shoulder as a symbol of the blessings received by all who pray at this site.

  • Thumbnail for Bhajan singing 1
    Bhajan singing 1

    Singers from the Rama Temple in Ellora sing devotional songs (bhajans) to Rama, Krishna, and other Vaishnava deities. Accompanying the singers are musicians playing the harmonium, hand cymbals, and drum. As this gathering was on a cool January evening (2003), the singers are wrapped in woolen scarves and sweaters.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Jain Caves, tirthankara with animals
    Ellora, Jain Caves, tirthankara with animals

    Demonstrating the Jain practice of non-violence, this tirthankara is depicted with animals and insects at his feet. Near his right leg is a scorpion. Refusing to take life, even in microscopic forms, to make cloth, he lives throughout the year as a "digambara" monk, clothing himself with the sky. Bits of ancient red paint remain on this figure.

  • 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 Temple, Parshvanatha detail, close-up
    Ellora, Jain Temple, Parshvanatha detail, close-up

    Underneath the tirthankara, Parshvanatha, is another image of himself over a chakra. At the foot of the image are lions, elephants, and his protective yaksha and yakshini, all positioned in perfect symmetry.