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An Ajanta Miniguide

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Chapter Summary

Cave 1, was sponsored by the great Vakataka emperor Harisena himself; not surprisingly, it is the most splendid vihara at the site. Cave 2 was started just before Cave 1, in the mid-460s, but work on it broke off in the “Recession” caused by the local king’s fear of an attack by the aggressive Asmakas. Cave 4, the largest vihara at the site, was sponsored by the rich but much-afflicted Mathura, one of the numerous inaugurators of Ajanta’s renaissance in the early 460s. The caitya halls Caves 9 and 10, both planned as halls for worship, form the old “Hinayana” nucleus of the site. Upendragupta’s richly colonnaded Cave 20, with its surprisingly elaborate female brackets, lies just to the west of the king’s related caitya hall. Cave 24 provides a remarkable example of an excavation in progress, following the precedents of Caves 21 and 23.

Keywords: Ajanta; Asmakas; caitya hall; Hinayana; Mathura; Upendragupta; Vakataka emperor Harisena



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