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The Ellora caves lie 30 kms northwest of Aurangabad. In all 34, Buddhist, Jain and Hindu caves in number, have an amazing wealth of sculpture. These are carved into the sides of a basaltic hill. The finest specimens of cave - temple architecture, they house elaborate facades and exquisitely adorned interiors. These structures representing the three faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, were carved during the 350 AD to 700 AD period. The 12 caves to the south are Buddhist, the 17 in the center dedicated to Hinduism, and the 5 caves to the north are Jain.
The sculpture in the Buddhist caves accurately convey the nobility, grace and serenity inherent in the Buddha. Most of the caves are Viharas or Monastery halls used by the monks for study, solitary meditation and worship.
About Elora
The Kailasa temple in Cave 16 an architectural wonder, is Ellora's masterpiece. The entire structure having been carved out of a monolith, the process taking over a century to finish. This mountain - abode of Lord Shiva, is in all probability, the world's largest monolith, the gateway, pavilion, assembly hall, sanctum and tower, all hewn out of a single rock. Gigantic, though it is, it remains one of the most delicate and intricate ancient works of art. The Dumar Lena cave resembles the famous cave - temple at Elephanta, and is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The Jain caves are about a mile away from the Kailasa temple, amongst which Cave 32, houses a beautiful shrine adorned with fine carvings of a lotus flower on the roof, and a 'yakshi' on a lion under a mango - tree, while Caves 32 and 34 contain grand statues of Parasnath. The other Jain caves sport the images of Tirthankaras, and one of them, also, has a seated figure of Mahavira, so deeply immersed in meditation that creepers have grown over his body.

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