THE STUNNING AJANTA
CAVES IN INDIA
According to archaeologists, construction of the Ajanta caves in Maharashtra, India, began about 2,200 years ago.
Over hundreds of years of work
and more than 30 monuments were laboriously cut into the rock face of the
mountains. According to speculation, the use of the caves stopped around 1000
AD for unknown reasons, letting a thick jungle canopy grow around them, hiding
them away for many generations.
No human eye saw the caves again until centuries later, in 1819 when an Englishman by the name of John Smith was hunting a tiger and he discovered a hidden doorway to one of the temples. We know this because he unfortunately left his name on the wall of the temple - and a date, which can still be seen today.
But although that first English discoverer did not go immediately public with
his discovery, the existence of the caves became known, and soon after Indian
and European tourists started pouring into the ancient site - after much
digging and cleaning that is (the caves were home to many species of animals
Experts have dated the caves from the second century BC - 200 years before the
birth of Christ. Their function seems to be ritualistic, used as prayer halls.
Much use of Roman design is evident in the columns and arches of the caves. The
hard rock face of the caves was apparently chiseled with rough tools and even
Almost every surface but the floor is covered in paintings - literally. They
have lost much of their former glory, of course, but efforts are being made to
restore them. Poems are also painted on the walls - 547 of them - which tell
stories of Buddha's previous lives.
Clancy's comment: Looking at the type of rock, this would have been a massive project.