CHAITYAS & VIHARAS
Chaityas are the halls enclosing the stupas. Ashoka constructed eight rock-cut halls in the Barabar & Nagarjuni hills and the one near Rajgir dedicated to Jaina monks. The Lomas Rishi, the Sudama (both in the Barabar hills) and the Sita Marhi (Nagarjuni hills) caves are fine examples of the Chaityas which resembled the wooden buildings of the period.
More sophisticated rock-cut chaityas developed later. The final form of rock-cut architecture that developed from these early forms can be seen all over India in Andhra Pradesh, Kathiawar in Gujarat and in Ajanta & Ellora. The rock formation in all these areas were most suited for these rock cut structures. Alternating layers of hard and soft rock prevents moisture from seeping inside.
They began the work from the top & continued downward. The Buddhists were the main contributors to these rock-cut monuments and best monuments are those found in Ajanta & Ellora (vishwakarma cave- cave No.10). Fine sculptures adorn the walls. Figures of Buddha in various poses were cut out.
Viharas are the dwelling places donated to the normally wandering Buddhist monks. The earlier structures were made of wood & soon developed from the primitive thatched huts into large sangharamas. Pali texts indicate the structure of the viharas. In course of time the sangharamas developed into educational institutions & centres of Buddhist learning, such as those at Nalanda, Vikramasila, Somapura. Hinayana viharas are seen in Ajanta, Ellora & in the Orissan hills in the east coast and at Nasik, Bedsa, Kondane and Pitalkhora in the Western Ghats. The development of Mahayana vihara can be traced only at Ajanta.