Pitalkhora [Dying] Caves

Although getting to the Pitalkhora Caves was a bit of a hike, the site was worth the sweat. It was fitting that we visited these caves at the end of the trip so as to make it easier to locate important features and methods of preservation by comparing it to other caves – mainly the Ajanta Caves. Though in ruins, these early Buddhist caves are grand and awe-inspiring. Remnants of chaitya arches are visible above the chaitya caves, while others had a vihara layout, with the foundation of dwelling rooms still preserved.

For me, it was amazing to see the effects of time on a site that appears to be  timeless. The damage on the cave was quite evident from the outside, however, there are features such as the painted pillars in the massive chaitya hall and row of elephants in front that gives this site its own magnificence. With the ongoing damage caused by water and other factors, measures were taken to preserve the oldest known rock cut caves in India. Modern pillars were erected in the chaityas to help with holding up the structure. This is why the chaityas were less damages compared to the viharas, where I can’t recall any structural support was built. Further down the mountain, stupas were reconstructed to preserve the little that was left from the original.

By visiting the Pitalkhora Caves, I think that I was most taken aback by the fact that a site so grand and awe-inspiring will cease to exist in the near future. It allows you to pause and appreciate these magnificent structures even more.  

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