Cave Architecture in Ancient India - Ancient Indian History Notes for UPSC

The art and culture is an important portion for UPSC IAS Prelims Examination. Here in this article, we are giving important caves architecture in India. The cave architecture in India is supposed to have begun during the ancient time. These caves were used by Buddhist and Jain monks as places of worship and dwelling. In the beginning, the caves were unearthed in the western India. Let’s have a look at the Cave Architecture in Ancient India which is a very important part in Indian Art and Architecture

Aspirants can find information on the structure and other important details related to the IAS Exam, in the linked article.

Ajanta Caves

  • This cave is located in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra
  • It comprises about 30 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments
  • Since 1983, the Ajanta Caves have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • All three kinds of art combined – sculpture, architecture, and paintings(mural paintings)
  • Famous fresco paintings of Ajanta are dying princess, flying apsara and preaching Buddha

Ellora Cave

  • It is locally known as ‘Verul Leni’
  • It is located in Maharashtra
  • This also a rock-cut monastery by the Buddhists
  • It is famous for the largest monolithic excavation in the world- the great Kailasa
  • The hills in which the caves are carved forms part of the Sahyadri ranges of the Deccan
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Elephanta Cave

  • It is located on Elephanta Islands in Mumbai
  • There are seven cave excavations in the Elephanta group
  • There is Trimurti of Shiva
  • The caves are carved from solid basalt rock.

Sudama / Nyagodh Cave

  • It represents the earliest example of rock-cut architecture in India
  • It belongs to belong Maurya period
  • It is located in Barabar hills
  • The cave was dedicated by emperor Ashoka in 261 BC
  • It consists of a Rectangular chamber connected to circular chamber

Lomasa Rishi Cave

  • It represents the earliest example of rock-cut architecture in India
  • It belongs to belong Maurya period
  • This cave was carved out of a gigantic rounded granite rock
  • It has an arch-like shape frontage copying the contemporary timber architecture
  • It is located in Nagarjuni hills
  • It belongs to belong Maurya period
  • Frieze of elephants

Bhaja Cave

  • This is the oldest Deccan rock-cut cave dated on 2nd century BC
  • It is located in Maharashtra.
  • The inscriptions and the cave temple are preserved as a National Monument
  • It is famous for its decorative frontages
  • It belongs to the Hinayana Buddhism sect
  • Stone carvings are not very deep
  • It has octagonal pillars

Karle cave

  • Ancient India Buddhist early rock-cut architecture
  • It is located in Maharashtra
  • Related with the Mahasaṃghika sect of Buddhism
  • There is a pillar of the Asokan type with a huge sixteen-sided shaft rising over a platform.
  • It has a great chaitya hall

Pancha Pandava cave

  • It is located in Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu
  • It is part of the cluster of Monuments at Mahabalipuram
  • It is one of the supreme testimonials to the ancient Vishwakarma Sthapathis which is unfinished

Cave temple of Mandagapattu

  • Mandagapattu is built by Mahendravarman I
  • It is a shrine which holds a significant position in the history of architecture of the Pallavas
  • It is the oldest stone shrine in Tamil Nadu

Udayagiri and Kandhagiri caves of Odisha

  • Earliest groups of Jain rock-cut shelters
  • The caves of Udayagiri and Khandagiri called lena or leṇa in the inscriptions
  • Hathigumpha and Ganeshagumpha are particularly well known due to art reserves of their sculptures and reliefs
  • Khandagiri offers a fine view back over Bhubaneswar from its summit.

Chaitya cave number 19 of Ajanta group

  • Built-in Gupta age
  • Cave 19 is a very elaborate rock-cut chaitya hall from the late 5th century
  • The peripheral frontage has a large horseshoe-arched window edged by figures of yakshas and Buddhas carved in relief.
  • The curved ceiling has rock-cut ribs.

Vihara cave number 16 & 17

  • Vihara is a monastery
  • There are lots of mural painting in the caves 16 and 17 which are the are epigraphs of the Vakataka Dynasty
  • The murals are uninterrupted without barriers, typically representing Buddhist tales, like ‘Jataka’ stories, which describe Buddha’s earlier lives.

Bagh caves

  • There were nine rock-cut caves, built-in vertical cliff soaring 45 – 50 m above the Baghani River, on the southern slopes of Vindhya Range.
  • Caves were established by Buddhist monk Dataka

Mandapeshwar Caves

  • It is located in on the banks of the Dahisar River in Borivali
  • 8th Century rock-cut shrine dedicated to Shiva
  • This is the only Brahmanical cave to be transformed into Christian cave

Junagadh Caves groups

  • Located at Junagadh district in Gujarat
  • Caves were engraved from Emperor Ashoka’s period up to 1st-4th century AD.
  • These caves are three distinct sites of rooms carved out of stone to be used as monks’ quarters

Nashik Caves

  • Located near Nashik in Maharashtra
  • It is called as Pandavleni Caves/ Trirashmi Buddhist Caves
  • It is a cluster of 24 caves carved between the 2nd century BCE and the 2nd century CE
  • It is representing the Hinayana Buddhist caves

Multiple Choice Question

Consider the following Statements

  1. Famous fresco paintings of Ajanta are dying princesses, flying apsara and preaching Buddha.
  2. Ellora caves are carved forms part of the Sahyadri ranges of the Deccan.
  3. Lomasa rishi cave belongs to the Mauryan period.
  4. Bhaja cave belongs to the Hinayana Buddhism sect.

Which of the following options is correct?

A) All the above statements are true

B) Only statements 1, 2 and 3 are correct

C) Only statements 2, 3 and 4 are correct.

D) Only statements 1,3 and 4 are correct

Answer: A


Candidates can find the general pattern of the UPSC Exams by visiting the UPSC Syllabus 2020 page.

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