Evolution of rock-cut architecture in India

Early/First Phase of Buddhist Architecture

  • Ashoka and Dasaratha (Ashoka’s grandson) are attributed to the earliest rock-cut caves.
  • From the period between 2nd Century BC to 2nd Century AD, we see the emergence and flourishing of Buddhist architecture.
  • Chaityas and Viharas are common sightings in these early Buddhist architectures.
  • Most of these Chaityas and Viharas were constructed using wood.
  • Some of the well known examples are Nasik, Bedsa, Kanheri, Karla, Bhaja & Ajanta Caves.

Credits – Culture Trip

The second phase of rock-cut architecture

During the 5th Century AD, we see the emergence of the second phase of Buddhist Rock-Cut Architecture.

  • Now, use of timber was eliminated
  • Introduction of Buddha’s image was a first in this phase of Buddhist architecture.
  • Previously, the Viharas used to have monks in the inner cell. This was further modified to add Buddha images in the Viharas.

Buddha in Kanheri caves

Final Phase/Dominant Phase of Buddhist Rock Cut Architecture

  • This phase is mostly dominated by the Dravida rock-cut style.
  • Use of Mandapas and Rathas is seen as a prominent feature of this phase.
  • Mandapa: It is an open pavilion, taking the form of a simple columned hall, and 2-3 cells in the back wall. It is excavated out of a rock.
  • Ratha: Ratha is a monolithic shrine carved out of a single rock.

Credits – Wikipedia

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