Pitalkhora Caves are located about 40-km northwest of Ellora
near Aurangabad . The caves dating
from the 2nd century BC to the 1st century AD are cut into the side of a
secluded ravine. Comprising mainly Viharas, which form the largest group
of Hinayana Buddhist structures. The story of Pitalkhora is shrouded, but
the site has yielded many unusual sculptures, including wonderful Yaksa
There is not much left at Pitalkhora today. The cliff has fallen away dramatically since antiquity, and most of the carvings that existed on the face of the cliff fell with it. Careful viewing of the cliff reveals only scraps remaining intact.
The main gate to the site from the gorge consists of a wide
terrace, with the naga and guardians flanking the door, and a row of
elephants "supporting" the complex. A stair leads directly to
the Chaitya. The area had 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, the elephants and 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.
Entering Pitalkhora through the gate, one arrives at
several large Vihara remains. One can notice that the walls of the viharas
were often made too thin, and have mostly broken away.
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.
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 monolithic with the cave, but moved into the niches provided for them.
Rail: Aurangabad is the nearest place, which has got an airport and a railway station. It is very convenient for the tourists to get down at Aurangabad and take a taxi to Pitalkhora.
Accommodation is available at the hotels at Aurangabad.