Ellora. Upper part front view of Sutar-Ki-Jhompri [or Visvakarma]
Photographer: Johnston, J.
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the exterior of the Vishvakarma cave at Ellora, taken by J. Johnston in the 1870s. The spectacular site of Ellora is famous for its series of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain cave temples excavated into the rocky façade of a cliff of basalt. The works were done under the patronage of the Kalachuri, the Chalukya and the Rashtrakuta dynasties between the 6th and the 9th centuries. The cave known as Vishvakarma (named after the archietect to the gods) is a 7th century cave and one of the latest rock-cut Buddhist chaityas in Western India. The elaborate façade at the end of large open court has a pillared verandah which admits into the long interior with an open gallery above. The gallery's roof is carved into the imitation of a wooden one with ribs and rafters, and above it is a series of auspicious mithuna (or loving) couples. In the rear wall of the gallery, which is decorated with celestial flying figures, there are windows which admit light into the interior, one circular within an arch, a relic of the horseshoe shaped arches of early Buddhist chaitya halls.