Situated just 30 kms from Aurangabad city is the twin attraction of Ellora caves which are 34 in number and are carved into the sides of a basaltic hill. The famous Ellora caves are located in the lap of the Chamadari hills and are regarded as world heritage which boasts of the Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas, who ruled the region from the 7th to 10th century, were the main patrons of this gigantic monument.
The Ellora Caves appear to the visitors as an asymmetrical ridge of rock, emerging vertically from the ground. The facades and finely designed interiors are some of the finest examples of cave - temple architecture. Carved during 350 AD to 700 AD, these structures depict the three faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The 17 in the centre are dedicated to Hinduism, 12 caves to the south are Buddhist and the 5 caves to the north are Jain. The Kailasa temple in Cave 16 stands as one of the greatest architectural wonders with the entire composition chiseled out of a monolith. This mountain, believed to be the holy abode of Lord Shiva, is probably the world s largest monolith. The pavilion, gateway, assembly hall, sanctum and tower, are all cut out of a single block. Unlike most of the other temple constructions that start from the base, the sculpture here starts from the very top and the sides. Though massive in size, it exhibits the most delicate and intricate works of art. The Dumar Lena cave is built in resemblance of the famous cave - temple at Elephanta, and is devoted to Lord Shiva.
The Jain caves are located almost a mile away from the Kailasa temple, among which Cave 32 has a beautiful shrine decorated with exquisite carved forms of a lotus flower on the roof, and a yakshi on a lion under a mango tree. Caves 32 and 34 house the majestic statues of Parasnath. The other Jain caves have the illustrations of Tirthankaras, and one of them, even has a seated figure of Mahavira.