The history of architecture traces the changes in architecture through various traditions, regions, overarching stylistic trends, and dates. Architectural style of a historical building is the expression of solemnity and majesty of a nation. It doesn’t take its place due to accidents but due to social, religious, moral and different conditions it spreads. Each style is actually based upon some principles. It could be affected by its surrounding civilizations. In history each style of architecture undergoes successive development using all the possibilities to achieve perfection. There is also a period of decline in many architectural styles. It can be due to extinction of a civilization or due to evolution of new styles. History of architecture is like a chain in which each style is connected to previous one. It is not, like that of Ajanta, the expression of a single belief; rather it is the product of the three principal religions of ancient India. The coexistence of structures from three different religions serve as a splendid visual representation of the prevalent religious tolerance of India.
The Ellora Caves are an impressive complex of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain cave temples built between the 6th and 10th centuries AD near the ancient Indian village of Ellora. It is an archaeological site 29 km (18 mi) north-west of the city of Aurangabad in the Indian state of Maharashtra, built by the Rashtrakuta dynasty. It is also known as Elapura in the Rashtrakuta Kannada literature. The caves are hewn out of the volcanic basaltic formation of Maharasthra, known as ‘Deccan Trap’, the term trap being of Scandinavian origin representing the step like formation of the volcanic deposits.
There are 34 caves in all: 12 Buddhist caves (500-750 AD), 17 Hindu caves (600-870 AD) and 5 Jain caves (800-1000 AD).The 34 "caves" are actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills. The Buddhist Caves were excavated between the 5th and the 7th centuries AD, when the Mahayana sects were flourishing in the region; among these cave 5 is the largest. Cave 10 is achaitya hall and is popularly known as 'Visvakarma'. It has a highly ornamental facade provided with a gallery and in the chaitya hall there is a beautiful image of Buddha set on a stupa.
The Brahmin caves are mostly Saivite. Kailasa (cave 16) is a remarkable example of rock-cut temples in India on account of its striking proportion; elaborate workmanship architectural content and sculptural ornamentation. It is said that cave 16 have been started by the Rashtrakuta king, Krishna I, and it is dedicated to Shiva and named after his mountain home in the Himalaya, the snow-peak Kailasa. The whole temple consists of a shrine with lingam at the rear of the hall with Dravidian sikhara, a flat-roofed mandapa supported by sixteen pillars, a separate porch for Nandi surrounded by an open court entered through a low gopura. The grand sculpture of Ravana attempting to lift Mount Kailasa, the abode of Siva, with his full might is a landmark in Indian art.
The Jain caves reveal specific dimensions of Jain philosophy & tradition. They reflect a strict sense of simplicity – they are not relatively large as compared to others, but they present exceptionally detailed art works.
The best time to visit Ellora Caves is during the months of October to February (winter season) and from June to September (monsoon season), these are the best time to visit Ellora Caves, as the weather is really pleasant during these months.