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The Caves, Karle. 7 January 1868

The Caves, Karle. 7 January 1868

Artist: Leighton, Stanley (1837-1901)

Medium: Pencil on paper

Date: 1868

Shelfmark: WD251

Item number: 251

Length: 17

Width: 25.3

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Drawing

Pencil and wash drawing by Stanley Leighton of the Caves at Karli, dated 7 January 1868. Inscribed on front in pencil: 'Caves of Karli between Poonah & Bombay. Thursday. 7 Jan. 1868. S.L.'; on mount:' Karli. Exterior of the Rock Temple.'

The Buddhist site of Karli is renowned for its great chaitya hall and some other rock-cut monasteries.

The great chaitya or prayer hall was excavated during the phase of early rock-cut architectural activity in India in the 1st century, under the Kshatrapa rule. A courtyard precedes the cave, with a huge 'simhastambha', a column with a bell shaped capital topped by four lions. The facade of the cave has a wide horseshoe-shaped window with ribs. The porch cave is adorned with very fine carvings depicting mithunas or amorous couples positioned between the three arched doorways. On the side walls there are three-dimensional carvings of elephants trunks which support multi-storey buildings with arched windows and railigs. These sculptures date from 1st century BC to 1st century AD. The interior has an apsidal plan divided into three naves by two rows of columns. The vaulted ceiling has rock-cut ribs imitating timber architecture. At the end of the central nave there is the devotional stupa.

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