Pitalkhora Caves

Useful Information

Location: 10 km west of Bhomarwadi Village, 40 km from Ellora, 60 km north of Aurangabad.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Church
Guided tours:
Address: Pitalkhora Caves.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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2nd century BC to 1st century BC excavated.


The caves are cut into the side of a secluded ravine. They comprising mainly of Viharas or monasteries, which form the largest group of Hinayana Buddhist structures. The story of Pitalkhora is shrouded in the depths of time, but the site has yielded many unusual sculptures, including wonderful Yaksa or girlie figures.

Over the years the cliff has fallen away and most of the carvings that existed on the face of the cliff fell with it, so very little is left today. The main gate to the site from the gorge consists of a wide terrace, with the naga, mystical serpent like figures, and other guardians flanking the door. There is also a row of elephants "supporting" the complex. A stairway leads directly to the Chaitya or shrine. The area has covered drains, a complex of viharas, a chaitya hall, and two smaller caves across the gorge with stupas in them.

The sculptural remains at Pitalkhora include animal motifs, miniature Chaitya windows, elephants, guardians and yaksa figures. The Chaitya of Pitalkhora is also crumbling. The pillars have been replaced with cement to prevent collapse. The surviving pillars have remains of 5th century paintings. The elaborate carving above doors, in cells, and around common rooms may be a mark of the wealth of the community, or of its patrons. One can find, to the right, smaller viharas, mostly in ruinous condition; to the left are the larger, carved Viharas Stupas. Across the gorge one can see the three little caves, with stupas inside. One is a small Chaitya hall. The stupas in these caves are very interesting. They are about twice human height. They are not apparently fixed into the cave, but have been moved into the niches provided for them.

Text by Tony Oldham (2003). With kind permission.