The Legacy Of Ajanta

The magnificent Kailasanatha temple had been hewn out of a mountain at Ellora in the eighth century. This monolithic temple is one of the grandest works of man. The conception itself is staggering: a whole mountain is carved from top to bottom into a marvellous temple structure. The walls and ceilings of this temple were once covered with murals. The remaining fragments of the murals show the beauty and quality of the art. The tradition of painting in the Deccan is seen to flow here from the caves of Ajanta.

There are paintings of the late ninth century in the Jain caves at Ellora. Even as the chisel chipped on the stone to create the most stupendous temples out of the mountain, the painters continued the older tradition but with contributions of their own. Besides the naturalism and grace inherited from Ajanta, the painted figures are stylised and elongated.

This stylisation, increasing linearity and the protrusion of the farther eye, which extends beyond the line of the face, are significant changes that take place in the paintings of Ellora. In later years, these are reflected in paintings over the whole of India. This style, often referred to as the Western Indian style of painting, perhaps because the beginnings are seen at Ellora, is soon manifested in paintings in regions as diverse as Ladakh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Myanmar

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