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Notes on the Geography of Peninsular India: Ajanta: Photo 14

world pictures Peninsular India: Ajanta

Here's Cave 16 above its grand entrance, though the elephants have lost their tusks. The cave is often described as the prime minister's cave, a reference to Varahadeva, prime ministe for Harisena, ruler of the Vakataka Empire whose leaders in the fifth century sponsored a renewal of temple building at Ajanta. An earlier phase of construction had occurred at about the beginning of the Christian Era and had produced Caves 9, 10, 11, 12, and 15. Everything else, from 1 to 29, was produced very quickly in the second, or Vakataka, period. After that, nada. The almost omniscient and undeniably thorough Walter Spink writes, "after 480, not a single image was ever made again at the site." (See Spink's Ajanta: History and Development, Volume V ("Cave by Cave"), p. 6.)

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