Ellora – Cave 5 – Maharwada

DSC04905Ascending a few steps, we enter a very large vihara, the largest in Maharashtra about 117 feet deep and 58 feet wide. The roof is being supported by 24 pillars DSC04910with square shafts, and capitals of type we have seen earlier in Cave 2., having a thick compressed cushion as the chief feature of the capital. They are arranged in two rows of ten each from front to back, and the space between is divided into three passages by two low stone benches. As the cave had at least 20 cells for monks these were either the low tables fDSC04912or dining; or it may possibly have been a sort of monastic school, and these benches, the reading desks of the scholars.; or they may served for both purposes. The columns are delicately carved.

At the entrance of the left aisle is a chapel which cDSC04915ontained a sitting figure of Buddha, and is now quite destroyed. In the shrine at the back is a large seated Buddha with attendants, and on each side the door in arched recesses are attendants separately; Padmapani, on DSC04913the left side, attended by two small female figures with head-dresses resembling royal crowns. The other figure is more richly bejeweled and similarly attended, while dwarfs on clouds above bring garlands and presents to them.

Connected with this cave on the right side was another shrine, above Cave 4, but the rock had fallen away, so that is inaccessible without a ladder. This shrine contains the usual image of Buddha and attendants; also a female figure holding a lotus stalk with her attendants. Round it was a passage called pradakshinapatha, for circumambulation, like in Hindu temples. From this passage and the vestibule in front several cells were entered. The half of the shrine, however, had slid down, and now blocks the west side of the front cell of Cave 4 just below it.

We will now proceed with Cave 6.

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