Fresco at Ajanta
The cave temples of Ajanta are situated about sixty two miles north of Aurangabad in western India. The caves are first mentioned in the writings of the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang who visited India between A.D 629 and 645. The caves were "discovered" dramatically during the course of military manouevres being undertaken by British officers in 1819. Public attention was roused and the East India company instructed the Viceroy to procure good copies of the paintings. Publicity, however, was nearly fatal to the original paintings, as many archaeologists and officials cut out the heads to be presented to museums. Therefore, in 1903, wire screens were fixed in all the important caves.
The thirty temples at Ajanta are set into the rocky sides of a crescent shaped gorge in the Inhyadri hills of the Sahyadri ranges. At the head of the gorge is a natural pool fed by a waterfall. Though this pristine spot was chosen to enable the Buddhist monks to meditate undisturbed, it should be noted that all sites of Buddhist excavations were situated close to the main trade routes.
Brown, Percy. Indian Architecture. Bombay: Taraporevala and co., 1959.
Michell, George. The Penguin guide to the monuments of India, Vol I. London: Viking, 1989.
Tadgell, Christopher. The History of Architecture in India. London: Phaidon Press, 1990.
Gupte, Ramesh; and Mahajan, B. D. Ajanta, Ellora and Aurangabad Caves. Bombay: Taraporevala and co., 1962.
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