Little more than two hours from the old city ofAurangabad are the famous Caves of Ajanta, Thirty-two grottos that are not natural but had been cut inhills for thousands of years by workers who had onlyused cinzéis and hammers. Sculptured in the volcanicbasalt rock, the craftsmen had been meticulously‘cinzelando’ the rock little by little, cutting thecolumns in strategic places and creating some roomsinside of the rock. The walls and ceilings had beenwonderfully decorated and had created colorfulpaintings with plaster applications .
The majority of paintings are more than 1500years old . Ten centuries before the birth ofMichelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and theEuropean renaissance, these unknown artistsalready knew how to use perspective, depthand realism in their paintings. Theexpressions and emotions captured in thefaces of the painting are so real that today,after some centuries, they can still beadmired.
The oldest cave traces to the secondcentury before Christ. Some of themare Viharas (convents) ormonasteries, great chambers withsmall rooms that lead off the mainroom and it was where they lived asmonks. Some of these rooms havebeds of cut rock, with a cushion inwhich monks could rest their heads.
The remaining portion of the caves are Chaityas ortemples, very similar to Christian cathedrals, withceilings ‘abobodados’ with cross-ribbed wooden beams,and with decorated pillars of rocks. In the centralsection (where a Christian church would have its altar)might be a great statue of Buddha. Remember thatthese temples of rock had been cut many centuriesbefore the Christian cathedrals, which can lead us tospeculate whether they had been the inspiration for thegreat architects of the Medieval Age, and not the .Greek and Roman classic temples.
It is surprising to think that the greatmasters who had created these wondersused only small tools of work. Still theyhad thus bequeathed us somethinguniversal and magical that we cancontemplate today. The centuries seemlike small water drops in the Walls ofthese caves.