September 07, 2010
The Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad, India, are rock-cut cave monuments that were crafted in between the second century BCE and the eighth century CE containing paintings and sculptures that are true masterpieces of Buddhist art. After being abandoned sometime around the 8th or 9th century CE, the caves were long forgotten until they were rediscovered in 1819 when a man accidentally stumbled upon an entrance while trying to navigate his way through the tangled brush.
Today, a piece was published on the Washington Bangla Radio website containing beautiful photographs from a recent visit to the caves.
The caves are a sort of illuminated history showing scenes from the courts and streets. The uniqueness of Ajanta lay in the fact that the artists covered the rough walls with a layer of mud and cow dung, mixed with straw as a binding medium. This layer was an inch thick and when it dried up, was smoothened with a layer of lime plaster. It was on this that the painters created their worlds of colour. Another amazing fact about the paintings is that they were done in extremely poor light in the caves. Only the diffused rays of sunlight could penetrate the caves, making it difficult to even figure out the murals, painting was far behind. The vihars, the pillars, the sanctum and the sidewalls are elaborately and exquisitely painted with murals narrating different stories from the life of Buddha including the masterpiece, the compassionate Bodhisattva with a lotus in his brilliant headgear. Each and every cave was unique by itself and it was extremely difficult to judge which was the most beautiful. Another masterpiece was the large carved statue of the reclining Buddha, representing his moment of death. We spent almost the entire day in the ‘Ajanta.’ So beautiful was its appeal that it was difficult to believe that these were ages old and done at a period when there were no modern facility, no canvas or no super quality oil paint to give life to the paintings; these were so beautiful that it spelt life and fullness in every corner.
Read the whole piece here.