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Pitalkhora–The remaining caves

Cave 5 is a vihara but is so damaged that the prior existence of cells therein can only be guessed by a DSC05361careful study of the vestiges to the entrance to cells, benches etc. It appears that the vihara had five cells on either side, each provided with a bench either at the back or at one side. On the back there were four cells, the two in the center being further deepened to provide two additional cells.

In front of the cell is a huge boulder on which is carved the inscription ya athiseniya; it seems to record the gift of a guild of bankers and is thus important in throwing light on the economic structure of the contemporary society. The inscription can be ascribed to the second century B.C.

Cave 6, also a vihara, had probably fifteen cells, of which those on the left and back sides are slightly better DSC05366preserved than the rest. The brackets and the pyramidal pattern over the architrave of the rear walls of the back cells are interesting. Each cell has a door step. At the entrance to the vihara there appears to have been a slightly lower level a small verandah, the inner side of which was anciently repaired by burnt bricks. Patches of old plaster, of cow-dung, husk etc. with traces of paint on them, are still visible on the walls and ceiling.

Cave 7 is a vihara with fifteen cells, five on each of the sides and and un-pillared hall in the middle. All the cells have entrance steps. There are brackets supporting the ceiling over the back-side bench in one of the cells in the back wall. The ceiling of the cell is vaulted and has grooves for wooden ribs. Traces of old plaster and paint are seen on the ceiling.

There are other caves, numbered 8 till 13, out of which 10-13 are grouped separately together and 12 and 13 being chaityas. All of them have been mostly damaged over the centuries and nothing can be made out today.

Pitalkhora was one of the most wonderful places I had visited, simply for the secluded location and the amazing history that it attaches to. These series of caves are the foremost of the Buddhist caves of the area, much before Ellora and Ajanta and are a true testimony to the culture. As I leave this place, I wait in anticipation for Anwa, which hosts a magnificent Siva temple.

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