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Aurangabad Caves, Aurangabad

Aurangabad Caves Overview

Just outside the city, are located the 6th century caves displaying the influence of Tantric cult in the iconography and architectural designs of the caves. A major chunk of the caves are viharas, of which Caves 3 and 7 are most fascinating. These were excavated between the 2nd and 6th century AD. Tantric influences can be discerned in their architecture and iconography. There are twelve caves in all, a major chunk of which are viharas, of which Caves 3 and 7, are the most fascinating. Cave 3 stands supported by 12 finely carved columns, and sports sculptures portraying scenes from the Jataka tales. Cave 7 houses an imposing sculpture of a Boddhisattva, praying for deliverance. Some of the chaitya halls here are constructed on a mandala plan for the circumambulation of the Buddha who is depicted here seated on an intricately carved throne. A short walk from Bibi-Ka-Maqbara is a set of caves slighted by their more glamorous neighbours, Ajanta and Ellora. The western group consists mainly of viharas (monasteries) and depictions from the Jataka tales. At the eastern group, there are sculptures of scantily clad buxom women in freaky hairdos, child-eating goddesses, musicians and dancers alongside images of the Buddha. This is indicative of the rise of Tantric Buddhism during the 6th and 7th century A.D. Nestled amidst the hills are 12 Buddhist caves probably dating back to the 1 A.D. One is also treated to a panoramic view of the city as well as the imposing Maqbara from this point. These caves are carved out of the hillside and are a fine piece of architecture, housing the most stunningly intricate carvings.

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