The Aurangabad caves are twelve rock-cut Buddhist shrines located on a hill running roughly east to west, close to the city of Aurangabad, Maharashtra. The first reference to the Aurangabad Caves is in the great chaitya of Kanheri Caves. The Aurangabad Caves were dug out of comparatively soft basalt rock during the 6th and 7th century.
The caves are divided into three separate groups depending on their location: these are usually called the "Western Group", with Caves I to V (1 to 5), the "Eastern Group", with Caves VI to IX (6 to 9), and a "Northern Cluster", with the unfinished Caves X to XII (9 to 12).
The carvings at the Aurangabad Caves are notable for including Hinayana style stupa, Mahayana art work and Vajrayana goddess. These caves are among those in India that show 1st millennium CE Buddhist artwork with goddesses such as Durga, and gods such as Ganesha, although Buddhist caves in other parts of India with these arts are older. Numerous Buddhist deities of the Tantra tradition are also carved in these caves.
The cave temples of Aurangabad cut between the 6th and the 8th century are nine kilometers from Aurangabad city center, a few kilometers from the campus of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University and the Bibi-ka-Maqbara.
Carved in the Sihaychal ranges, the Aurangabad caves somewhat have been overshadowed by the UNESCO World Heritage monuments of Ellora and Ajanta cave temples. Though its sculptures are comparable to Ajanta and Ellora, the caves are much smaller, more decrepit and less visited. Though in the 20th century, a few scholars started looking at these cave temples as a missing link between Ajanta and Ellora and also after an exhaustive study, were compelled to describe it as a " Sensitive remaking of life situated in time and space span". It is a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India.
Caves I and III
"Caves I and III of Aurangabad and last caves of Ajanta co-existed as is apparent from striking parallels which we come across while examining both the sites. Again at Aurangabad after a careful study of both caves I and III, the conclusion the Historians have come to is that cave III was earlier to cave I. In Cave III the artist seems to have decorated with surprisingly neat and organized designs of fretwork, scrolls, panel of couples, tassels, flowers, geometrical designs, and highest point of perfection and consummation."
- Qureshi, Dulari. Art and Vision of Aurangabad Caves. New Delhi: Bhartiya Kala Prakashan. ISBN 81-86050-11-6.
- Fergusson, 385-392; Brancaccio, "Contents" etc
- Pia Brancaccio (2010). The Buddhist Caves at Aurangabad: Transformations in Art and Religion. BRILL Academic. pp. 21, 41, 150, 181, 190–192, 202–209 with footnotes. ISBN 90-04-18525-9.
- David B. Gray; Ryan Richard Overbey (2016). Tantric Traditions in Transmission and Translation. Oxford University Press. pp. 47–48. ISBN 978-0-19-990952-0.
- Aurangabad Caves "The cave temples of Aurangabad cut between the 6th and the 8th century are nine kilometers from Aurangabad, near Bibi-ka-Maqbara."
- "Aurangabad Caves". Retrieved 19 May 2012.
- Qureshi Dulari, "Art and Vision of Aurangabad Caves," Chapter I p.10
- Pia Brancaccio (2010). The Buddhist Caves at Aurangabad: Transformations in Art and Religion. BRILL Academic. ISBN 90-04-18525-9.
- Fergusson, James (1880). The cave temples of India. London : Allen.
- Ganvir, Shrikant, "Built Spaces: On Aurangabad caves in conversation with Dr. Shrikant Ganvir", Video (40 mins), on You Tube
- Harle, J.C., The Art and Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent, 2nd edn. 1994, Yale University Press Pelican History of Art, ISBN 0300062176
- Michell, George, The Penguin Guide to the Monuments of India, Volume 1: Buddhist, Jain, Hindu, 1989, Penguin Books, ISBN 0140081445
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