Buddhist Rock Cut Architecture in India

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  • 7/21/2019 Buddhist Rock Cut Architecture in India



    The Rock-cut structurespresent the most spectacular piece of ancient Indian art specimen. Most of the rock-cut

    structures were related to various religious communities. In the beginning, remarkable Buddhist and Jain monuments

    were produced in areas such as Bihar in the east and Maharashtra in the west. Numerous caves were excavated b

    the Buddhist monks for praer and residence purposes. !he best examples of this are "haitas and monasteries.

    Inside these rock-cut structures monks carved windows and balconies and gates in the shape of huge arch shaped


    #ock-cut architecture occupies a ver important place in the histor of Indian $rchitecture. !he rock-cut architecture

    differs from traditional buildings in man was. !he rock-cut art is more similar to sculpture than architecture as

    structures were produced b cutting out solid rocks. %ome prominent rock-cut structures of ancient India are "haitas,

    &iharas, temples etc.

    Buddhist architecture in $ncient India was a good combination of traditional structure and modern concepts of the

    time. !he principle contributions made b Buddhist architecture and art of the time were these six. '() a series of

    edics inscribed on the rock '*) a number of tumuli or stupa '+) certain monolithic pillars ') several monolithic

    accessories to shrine ') the remains of vast palace ') a group of rock cut chambers.($mong them that more

    directl affected the course of art of building were the stupas.

    Buddhist architecture nowadas can be seen through Stupa, Vihara & Chaityagruha. Stambha andCavesare also of great importance.

    Chaityas And Viharas

    "haitas and &iharas are those rock-cut structures that were hewn out for Buddhist and Jain monks.

    "haitas were places of worship. "haita derived from %anskrit word chita or a sacred spot.!he traditional chaita

    was a grove of trees in the middle of which small tumuli of earth had been built up over the ashes or relics of the

    Buddha .Buddhist monks instead of wandering and begging for alms started settling down around such chaitas.

    Monks in viharas erected stupa along with viharas also called "haita /ruha. !he plan consists of an apsidal ended

    hall with closel spaced pillars at each side, forming aisles or ambulatories. $ stupa shrine is placed in the apse,

    farthest from the entrance. !he roofs are semicircular in section and ribs represent the original timber members of the

    prototpes are cut from the rock. !he fascade normall contains above a low entrance portico, a horseshoe shaped

    window filled with rock-cut or wooden tracer which admits light to the interior. whereas

    &iharas were residence of monks. &ihara is a simple dwelling for monks and nuns. 0hen it is raining outside. Buddha

    prescribed five kinds of abodes for the monks. &i1 &ihara ' monaster). $ddhoga ' 2inneled house), 2asada ' Big

    building), 3ammia ' $ttic ) and /uha ' cave). !he term &ihara was generall used in the sense of monaster.

    !he Buddhist and Jain monks usuall staed awa from the towns therefore the developed "haitas and &iharas in

    the hillside. Most of the "haitas and &iharas were constructed in western India. %ome of the prominent places having

    "haitas and &iharas are 4arle, Nashik, Bha5a and 4anheri. !he rugged hills of the 0estern /hats were naturall

    suited to the creation of living space in the hillside.

    Chaitya place of worship Vihara dwellings ofmonks

  • 7/21/2019 Buddhist Rock Cut Architecture in India


    Karla Caves Architecture

    Buddhist 4arla "aves are one of the finest examplesof ancient rock cut caves to be found in India. !hemagnificent hall that adorns the main cave reflects thehigh degree of architectural skills of the artisans whocarved the caves on such a beautiful and difficulthillside.

    !his complex of Buddhist caves are built on a hillsideand is one of the finest examples of ancient rock cutcaves. /reat windows light up the interiors and thehave the large collection of "haitas or halls. $t theentrance is a recentl built temple, accompanied b apillar from the Buddhist period. !he facade of thetemple has some carved temple screens, with railingornaments and human couples. 6uter and innerscreens form an antechamber to the main cave. !he panels of wooden doors and windows are ex7uisitel decoratedwith intricate sculptures of couples embracing. $t the central doorwa there are sculptures of the Buddha preaching ona lion supported throne along with magnificent carvings of three elephants. 8ifteen pillars adorned with carvings ofelephants, men and women riding separate the narrow aisles from the central arch. !he portico of karla caves iscarved in such a wa so as to give it an appearance of finished wood and has a large horse shoe arch at the centre.

    The Caves

    #ock cut structures are one of the most

    primitive forms of architecture and are found in

    man places in India. !he first rock cut temples

    are a part of the Buddhist stle of architecture,

    which originated in India after the death of

    /autam Buddha 9 the founder of Buddhism.

    !he large number of cave shrines abandoned at

    various stages of construction gives us a hint on

    how the were dug out. "aves were created ingroups to provide accommodation to workers as

    there were not man resources in this ver

    small religious communit.

    !he 4arla "ave complex has a number of

    "haitas or praer halls which have been

    carved in a great precision were for

    congregational worship which distinguishes

    Buddhism from 3induism. %imilarl carved viharas were dwelling places of monks which consisted of cells cut into

    walls around three sides of a hall. !here are no images of Buddha but onl smbolic descriptions. !he caves had

    arched entrances and precisel carved interiors.

    $5anta caves

  • 7/21/2019 Buddhist Rock Cut Architecture in India



    0ord stupa is derived from the root stup, meaning to heap

    and suggest the mound shape and method of construction

    of these editices.

    !he initial function of a stupa was the veneration and safe

    guarding at the relics of the Buddha. !he evolved into

    large hemispherical mounds with features such asthe !orna - /atewa

    the &edica - 8ence like enclose

    the 3ermika - $ s7uare platform with railings on the

    top of the stupa.and "hatraashti - !he parasol or


    %anchi, Barhut, "haukhandi, :eorkothur, :hamek

    stupa at %arnath, &aishali, Nalanda, #ambhar are some

    of the welknown stupas. %tupas show the diversities in shapes but unit in techni7ue and purposes. !he original

    models for stupa were those raised in brick and stone. !he well preserved earl stupas at %anchi and elsewhere show

    that the drum and dome were constructed solidl and the capital and umbrella were later added as separate pieces in



    !he forms of the later two items happen to be copies of wooden models, so it can be presumed that originallthese parts were in wood onl.


    !hese are monumental pillars standing free without an structural function

    with circular or octagonal shafts. Inscriptions were carved on the shafts.

    !he capital which was usuall persepolitan in form was bell shaped and

    crowned with animal supporters bearing the Buddhist chakra or wheel of

    the law. !he $shoka pillar consists of four components ; $ lotus at the

    base, a circular abacus carved with an elephant, a bull, a horse and a lion

    separated from one another b a wheel and four lions set back to back over

    the abacus. !his capital is the emblem of the #epublic of India.

    Buddhist temple architecture

    $t the age of Mauranemperor$shoka the greattheMahabodhi

    !emplewas built in the form of vihara.

    !he Mahabodhi !emple at Bodhgaa 'Buddhagaa), Bihar, since

  • 7/21/2019 Buddhist Rock Cut Architecture in India