Ellora is an archaeological site 29 km north-west of the city of Aurangabad in the Indian state of Maharashtra, built by the Rashtrakuta dynasty (Brahmanical & Buddhist group of caves) and Yadav (Jain group of caves). Well known for its monumental caves, Ellora is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and forms one of major tourist attraction in Marathwada region of Maharashtra Ellora represents the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture. The 34 "caves" are actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills. Hindu, Buddhist and Jain rock-cut temples and viharas and mathas were built between the 5th century and 10th century. The 17 Hindu (caves 13–29), 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12) and 5 Jain (caves 30–34) caves, built in proximity, demonstrate the religious harmony prevalent during this period of Indian history. It is a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India.The caves at Ellora were of three distinct categories. There are 12 Buddhist caves, 17 Hindu caves and 5 Jain caves.
The Buddhist Caves: The Buddhist caves at Ellora were built during 5th-7th century AD. These are mainly viharas or monasteries and were used for study, meditation, communal rituals, eating and sleeping. The cave 2 has number of sculptures of seated Buddhas arranged in rows. Cave 10 is famous and known as Carpenter's Cave or 'Vishvakarma cave' with a 3.3 m high seated Buddha at the far end. Cave 11 has the images of Durga and Ganesh also a Buddha shrine, historians believe that the cave was converted into a Hindu temple after it was deserted by the Buddhists.
The Hindu Caves :The Hindu caves were constructed during 6th and 8th century AD, some of them were constructed during the Rashtrakuta period.
The most notable cave among the Hindu caves is Cave 16 which is also known as Kailasa or Kailasanatha or Kailasa Temple, the abode of Lord Shiva. The multi-storeyed temple was carved out of a single rock. It is a marvel of architecture with many sculptures. Historians believe that the Kailasa Temple was built by Rashtrakuta Emperor Krishna I. The cave 15 is known as Das Avatara and has sculptural panels of different incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The cave 21 is one of the oldest caves of Ellora, known as Ramesvara includes the sculpture of river goddesses Ganga and Yamuna. Cave 25 has the sculpture of the Lord Surya (i.e. Sun). Cave 29 is renowned for the grand sculpture of Ravana attempting to lift Shiva and Parvati.
The Jain Caves The Jain caves at Ellora belonged to the Digambara faction. It has total five Jain caves. The most notable Jain caves are the cave 30 (Chhota Kailash), the cave 32 ( Indra Sabha) and cave 33 ( Jagannath Sabha ).