Ajanta Caves

Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra, India are a Buddhist monastery complex of twenty-nine rock-cut cave monuments containing paintings and sculpture considered to be masterpieces of both "Buddhist religious art" and "universal pictorial art" The caves are located just outside the village of Ajinṭhā in Aurangabad District in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Since 1983, the Ajanta Caves have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Excavation of the caves began in the third-second century B.C.E., during the period when Dakshinapath was ruled by Satavahana dynasty, and activity at the complex continued until the fifth to sixth century C.E., when the region was ruled by Vakatakas. Both the Satavahanas and Vakatakas were followers of Brahmanism, but also patronized the Buddhist shrines. The walls, ceilings and columns of the caves were covered with complex compositions of the Jataka stories (the stories of the Buddha's former existences as Boddhisattva), and ornate floral and animal decorations. The exuberance and richness of the painting suggests that the artists were accustomed to painting secular as well as religious works. The paintings have a natural fluidity, depth and volume not found in later, more stylized Indian art.

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