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Consider the following statements with reference to Ajanta caves:

1. Ajanta is the only surviving example of a painting of the first century BCE and the fifth century CE.

2. The Mahayana sect of Buddhism started the excavation of caves in Ajanta.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?


1. 1 only
2. 2 only
3. both 1 and 2
4. Neither 1 nor 2

1 Answer

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Correct Answer - Option 1 : 1 only

The correct answer is 1 only.

  •  The Ajanta caves are situated at a distance of about 100 km north of Aurangabad in Maharashtra.
  • Ajanta has twenty-nine caves.
  • It has four chaitya caves datable to the earlier phase, i.e., the second and the first century BCE (Cave Nos. 10 and 9) and the later phase, i.e., the fifth century CE (Cave Nos. 19 and 26).
  • It has large chaitya viharas and is decorated with sculptures and paintings.
  • Ajanta is the only surviving example of a painting of the first century BCE and the fifth century CEHence, statement 1 is correct.

  • The Hinayana sect of Buddhism started the excavation of caves in Ajanta. Hence, statement 2 is NOT correct.

  • Among the important patrons at Ajanta were Varahadeva (patron of Cave No. 16), the prime minister of the Vakataka king, Harishena; Upendragupta (patron of Cave Nos. 17–20) the local king of the region and feudatory of the Vakataka king, Harishena; Buddhabhadra (patron of Cave No. 26); and Mathuradasa (patron of Cave No. 4).
  • Ajanta caves are the repository of rich mural paintings.
  • Paintings of the early phase are mostly in caves nine and ten, which belong to the period of the Satavahanas.
  • The themes of the paintings are the events from the life of the Buddha, the Jatakas and the Avadanas.
  • The celestial figures of Kinnaras, Vidyadharas and Gandharvas are depicted in paintings and sculptures.
  • In one of the events, the Boddhisattva, Chaddanta, is shown removing his own tusk and giving it to the hunter, Sonuttar.
  • The popular Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara is depicted in painting and sculpture.
  • The other important paintings are the famous Padmapani and Vajrapani in Cave No. 1.
  • Architecturally, Ajanta caves are grouped into two: chaityas and viharas.

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