The magnificent group of rock-cut shrines of Ellora, representing three different faiths,
Buddhist, Brahmanical and Jaina were excavated during the period from 5th to the 13th century AD. The Buddhist Caves (1 to
12) were excavated between the 5th and the 7th centuries AD, when the Mahayana sects were flourishing in the region. Important
in this group are Caves 5, 10 and 12. Cave 10 is a chaitya-hall and is popularly known as 'Visvakarma'. It has a highly
ornamental facade provided with a gallery and in the chaitya-hall is a beautiful image of Buddha set on a stupa. Among the
viharas, Cave 5 is the largest. The most impressive vihara is the three - storeyed cave called 'Tin - Tala'. It has a large
open-court in front which provides access to the huge monastery. The uppermost storey contains sculptures of Buddha.
The Brahmanical caves numbering 13 to 29
are mostly Saivite. Kailasa (Cave 16) is a remarkable example of rock-cut temples in India on account of its striking proportion,
elaborate workmanship architectural content and sculptural ornamentation. The whole temple consists of a shrine with linga
at the rear of the hall with Dravidian sikhara, a flat-roofed mandapa supported by sixteen pillars, a separate porch for Nandi
surrounded by an open-court entered through a low gopura. There are two dhvajastambhas, or pillars with the flagstaff, in
the courtyard. The grand sculpture of Ravana attempting to lift mount Kailasa, the abode of Siva, with his full might is a
landmark in Indian art.
The Jaina Caves (30 to 34) are massive,
well-proportioned, decorated and mark the last phase of the activity at Ellora.