the many-splendoured delights of Ajanta compiled by Subramanian Swaminathan
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Rock-cut Architecture

The caves of Ajanta offer an instructive field for the study of the evolution of rock-cut architecture. It is unique in the sense that it can be viewed as an enterprise of a sculptor.
The cave architecture, at Ajanta and elsewhere, betrays the strong influence of wooden construction.

The Team was probably drawn from the profession of carpenters, with goldsmiths and ivory-carvers joining hands with the sculptors.

The evolution of rock architecture took place during two periods: the Hinayana period of the pre-Christian era and the later Mahayana period.

During the first phase the sculptural activity was limited.

Mahayana period (4th century onwards)
In the second phase sculptural compositions filled the facade, the shrines etc. Side by side with the excavation of new caves the existing Hinayana ones were suitably modified.

The caves of Ajanta are divided into
Chaitya-s - Temples
Vihara-s - Monasteries
Mahayana period - Facade embellished

The entrance has a prominent arched window
to light the interior. Relief sculptures
added in Mahayana period
Chaitya - Interior, consists of a long vaulted nave
with a pillared aisle on either side. The far end is
semicircular with a stupa at its centre
Vihara - Plan, It has a congregation hall
with cells for the monks on the inner sides.
Later a shrine was excavated at the far end
Vihara - Interior, A colossal statue of the Buddha
is seen in the sanctum. On the left to the entrance
is the famous painting of Padmapani
Vihara - Interior, Cave 2

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