The architecture here is divided into distinct groups - each
having its own version of the prayer-hall, or Chaitya and a monastery, or
a Vihara. The most significant of these are the examples at Karle, with
magnificent chaityas cut deep into the hillside.
There may be row of columns down both sides of the cave and around the stupa. Viharas are normally intended to be the living quarters for the monks and usually have a row of cells along both sides. In the back there is often a small shrine containing an image of the Buddha.
At Ajanta, the cliff faces into which the caves are cut are
very steep and there is often a small verandah or entrance porch in front
of the main cave. At Ellora the rock face is more sloping. Cave
architecture reached the peak of its 0complexity and design in the Hindu
temples at Ellora. These can be hardly called caves for each temple is
opened to the sky, built up from the bottom they were cut from the living
rock from the top down.
The ascetic nature of early Buddhism and Jainism was well suited to living a life away from the cities, in natural caves and grottoes in the hillsides. In a circle of two hundred miles around modern Nasik (also spelt as Nashik), the rugged hills of the Western Ghats are naturally suited to the creation of living space in the hillside - with steep cliffs providing an ideal surface for carving in.