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Exterior view of large Buddhist Chaitya Hall (Cave XII), Bhaja Caves, Pune District

Exterior view of large Buddhist Chaitya Hall (Cave XII), Bhaja Caves, Pune District

Photographer: Cousens, Henry

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1885

Shelfmark: Photo 1003/(2188)

Item number: 10032188

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of the great Buddhist Chaitya Hall (Cave XII) at Bhaja, taken by Henry Cousens in the 1880s-1890s. At Bhaja, south of Karli, there are more than 20 rock-cut Buddhist structures from the Satavahana period, the earliest phase of Buddhist rock-cut architectural activity. The Great Chaitya or prayer hall (Cave XII) dates from the 2nd century BC. The Chaitya would have served as a centre of religious practice for the monks who lived in the adjacent rock-cut monastery or vihara. Monks were not allowed to possess material wealth, and inscriptions at this temple, and others, indicate that the construction of Chaityas was funded through donations from merchants and landowners. Bhaja is widely regarded as the earliest example of a mature Chaitya plan, with a nave, columns and side aisles. The temple would have also incorporated a vaulted roof with teak beams and a wooden facade however both features have now perished. Inside the apsidal-ended hall the nave and aisles are separated by octagonal columns and a hemispherical stupa is situated at the far end.

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