A unique artistic creation, Ellora is one of the largest rock-cut monastic-temple complexes in the world. And legitimately counts among the glories of India’s incredibly rich cultural heritage. Located at a distance of 30 kilometers from the city of Aurangabad, in Maharashtra, it is essentially a group of 34 caves, adorned with beautifully-crafted carvings, depicting the various pantheonic divinities of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. These caves -- cut out, side by side, in the Deccan basalt, during 600-1000 AD -- exemplify an awe-inspiring technological exploit of ancient India. About 0.3 million cubic feet of rock had been excavated to carve out this monastic-temple complex! Ellora figures among world heritage monuments.
The natural weathering and erosion over the centuries, together with retreating scarps have not only resulted in the degradation of slopes, but have had damaging impact on the sculptures and paintings in the caves and in their environs. Biotic interference has further deteriorated the caves and their surroundings. In 1998, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) engaged the Geological Survey of India (GSI) to carry out multidisciplinary geo-scientific studies of the caves site. And, for the first time, the GSI studied out geological, geohydrological, and environmental conditions of the site.
Carrying out comprehensive geo-scientific studies for the entire Ellora complex, the Geological Survey of India presented an excellent report on their findings in 2001, containing various thematic maps, damage assessment of the site from geotechnical perspective, and also their remedial measures. This volume carries GSI’s report including, among other aspects, the geology of the Ellora Cave area, its topographic and geophysical surveys, and seismic assessment; besides the results of their geotechnical and environmental studies of the caves.
Dr Manohar Sinha is the former Deputy Director General of the Geological Survey of India.