21 May 2022

Ajanta Cave 17

Cave 17 is an edifice of the late fifth century CE. Its plan is similar to cave 16. It has a veranda, a hall, and similar arrangements of cells that are nineteen in number. Additionally, there is a shrine antechamber.

The veranda has massive pillars with similar carvings. There are three entrances to the hall of which the central door is adorned with carvings.

The square hall has twenty lavishly carved and painted octagonal pillars forming a colonnade.

The shrine contains a massive Buddha image in dharmachakra-pravartana mudra, flanked by Bodhisattva Padmapani on the right and Vajrapani on the left. The shrine doorway is elaborately carved in several compartments with floral designs, figures of the Buddha, female doorkeepers, scroll- work, etc.

The monastery, which has preserved the greatest number of murals, is noted for masterpieces like the seven Manushi Buddhas with Maitreya, Apsaras and Gandharvas adoring the Buddha, Subjugation of Nalagiri, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, and the Litany Scene.

Among the narratives are Shaddanta, Mahakapi, Hastin, Hamsa, Visvantara, Sutasoma, Sarabha, Matriposhaka, Matsya, Shyama, Mahisha, Shibi, Mriga, Sasa, Prabhasa, Simhala, and Riksha.

According to an inscription on the left wall of the veranda, this cave was a gift of a feudatory of Vakataka King Harishena. The inscription describes lavish expenditure on this cave as “such that little-souled men could not even grasp in their imaginations.”

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