Rock-cut Monuments of India
This website is being created as a repository of information on the art and architecture of the rock-cut monuments of ancient India. It seeks to offer reference material for researchers, scholars, students, and enthusiasts. The main aim is to bring into public domain essential information and linkages that will enable further discourse, research, and study in the realm of not only the Indian, but also the larger context of the South Asian and the Asian art history.
There are as yet, numerous cave sites that are to be systematically documented. This calls for the greater engagement of the researchers, educators, and students to explore the many wonders and secrets of the Indian heritage.
Currently, this website covers select sites, including three world heritage monuments – Ajanta, Ellora, Elephanta, Aurangabad, Pitalkhora, Bhaje, Karle, Kanheri, Ghatotkacha, Kondivite, Banoti, Shana Vakiya, and Prabhas Patan.
The website places emphasis on the photographic documentation of the rock-cut monuments, and pertinent descriptive information. This is therefore, an ever expanding repository of images and texts; and an ongoing project that will add newer content, year by year, as our field research, and documentation work continues.
Some caves were made for the Ajivikas in Barabar Hills of Bihar. Then the Buddhists adopted the rock-cut architecture to be followed by the Jains and Hindus.
A majority of the rock-cut monuments is located in the Deccan plateau regions of Maharashtra. The western ghats, now a declared world heritage site for wildlife, cradled more than thirteen hundred rock cut edifices.
Many dynasties directly or indirectly supported these ancient monasteries, such as the Mauryas, Satavahanas, Vakatakas, Traikutakas, early Kalachuris, Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas, Pallavas.
The architecture of these rock-cut monuments also contain treasures of Indian heritage including paintings, sculptures, and a myriad of decorative and aesthetic motifs and themes.
Particularly Ajanta is famous for the narrative paintings of Jatakas, Avadanas, and scenes from the life of the Buddha etc. A number of caves also have inscriptions in ancient Prakrit and Sanskrit, which are essential to the disciplines of history, epigraphy, Indology, Buddhist studies, religious studies, and archaeology.