Rock-cut temples count among the most spectacular specimens of ancient Indian art. And, thus, they hold a highly significant place in the history of Indian architecture. Hewn out of massive, solid rocks, they unequivocally manifest the creative genius of ancient Indian architects, sculptors, and artisans of various descriptions. Some of the most remarkable Buddhist and Jaina monuments of this kind were first produced in Bihar, east India; but with the spread of these faiths, cave temples began to surface in several other parts of India as well. Many major groups of cave temples came up in the Maharashtra region of Western India, because the Deccan trap rock was found to be most conducive for rock carving.
Almost invariably, the rock-cut temples reveal two principal forms: the chaitya hall (the place of worship) and the vihara (monastery/residence), both evolved by the Buddhists; even if the Western Indian cave complex exhibits several other architectural features as well. For instance, some of these caves are pillarless, flat-roofed, with square-backed chaityas; some others show the colonnade of pillars dividing the chaitya into a central cave, two-side aisles, and the apsidal back. The vaulted roof of the caves and aisles, besides the slanting octagonal pillars lend a rare charm to some of these caves.
This book is perhaps the first ever exhaustive study of Western India’s rock-cut temples. Combining years of her persevered research with extensive travels to various caves, Dulari Qureshi offers a meticulously detailed study of not only the internationally-celebrated architectural marvels, like Ajanta, Ellora, Karle, Kanheri, Elephanta, Jogeshwari, or Bhaja; but also of the hitherto-unnoticed, insignificant, and even obscure ones, like Nadur, Nenavali, Dharasiva, Karusa, Yerphal, Pohale, and Kol. Together with scrupulously drawn sketches, she painstakingly analyzes significant architectural attributes of all different cave-temples. Supporting her text is a veritable profusion of visual material comprising as many as 333 plates and 233 neat line drawings, highlighting the whole variety of Western India’s rock-cut temples as well as their architectural features.
Dr Dulari Qureshi: a scholar, litterateur and prolific writer, is Professor and Director in the Department of Tourism Administration, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad.