Ajunta. Interior of Chaitya Cave No 10
Lithographer: Dibdin, Thomas Colman (1810-1893)
Medium: Lithograph, coloured
This is plate 5 from James Fergusson's 'Illustrations of the Rock Cut Temples of India'.
Situated close enough to Deccan trade routes yet comfortably distant from urban centres, Ajanta was an ideal location for a convocation Buddhist monks. Of the 30 rock-cut caves that comprised the settlement, about 5 are chaityas (prayer halls). Cave 10 is the earliest of the chaityas, dating to the second century BC. Its facade was probably once made of perishable material. The interior is divided into three aisles by two rows of octagonal painted columns. In the apse at the end is a huge stupa (monument). The vaulted ceiling used to have timber ribs.
James Fergusson sketched these caves in 1838 and 1839 and was chiefly interested in their architecture, although they are also exemplars of wall painting. The murals illustrating the Jataka tales of Buddhism running along a wall of this chaitya are the oldest surviving wall paintings in India.