Posts Tagged 'chaitya'

chaityas of ajanta caves

Posted by on 23 Mar 2011 | Category: india, photography

Chaityas are buddhist prayer halls that house a stupa. The word chaitya has its roots in sanskrit chita ~ meaning a pyre or a pile of ashes. The ancient rock-cut buddhist caves of Ajanta were built during the 2nd century BC ~ 6th century AD. All these caves and sculptures are carved out of the rocky hills of Ajanta. They start carving from top of the hill and reach the bottom, and hence do not make use of scaffolds for support.

In the next four chaitya images, you can see how buddhism evolved during the period, from the early hinayana style to the mahayana style of buddhism. Out of the 30 caves of ajanta, 9, 10, 19, 26 and 29 are chaitya grihas and the remaining caves are viharas, carved out of a horse-shoe shaped rock-cliff valley.

Ajanta Cave 10. Thought to be the oldest chaitya hall at Ajanta (2nd century BC). During the early hinayana period, stupa is the centrepiece and no idols are revered.
hinayana chaitya hall, ajanta caves number 10
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bedsa caves

Posted by on 10 Jan 2011 | Category: india, photography

We were enchanted by the ancient rock-cut caves at Karla, that we decided to visit the Bedsa (bedse) caves which are also within 50kms from Pune, towards Karla.

on the way to ancient bedse rock-cut caves

This time we had much more to hike up, but Pratya was game, and the cool breeze kind of lifted us up.
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karla caves

Posted by on 18 Sep 2010 | Category: india

Within a short distance (~45kms) from Pune, nestled cozily between the Sahyadri hills, are the ancient buddhist caves of Karla. These rock-cut caves were primarily a buddhist monastery, the oldest being built around 160 B.C.

karla caves

The main cave is the prayer hall or the “chaitya”, with a lot of sculptures pertaining to buddhism and the Indian mythology. The wooden umbrella arches inside the chaitya have stood through the ages, without any significant withering, probably due to the ideal conditions within the caves. You can see these wooden arches in the image below.

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