Temples of Sri Lanka


By Ruwini Kuruppu

Ajantha is located in Orangabadh in Maharashtra State of India. This is a complex of caves consisting of 29 lairs. These caves are situated in a rock which is 300 feet above the sea level and has a shape of horseshoe. It is believed that these caves had been built during 2 BCE to 7 BCE. 

These cave temples are archaeologically significant sites.  This displays Buddhist architecture. The frescoes in those caves bear close resemblance to that of Sri Lanka’s Sigiri frescoes. About 30 Ajantha caves have been discovered and they had been in a dilapidated plight due to negligence over a long period of time. This place was first discovered by an British governor of India who went in hunting of wolves in the jungle. He had cleared the place to see what kind of site that was. Thus, Ajantha cave complex was rediscovered in 1819. 

In these cave temples, Buddha is carved in stones and frescoes can be seen inside of the caves. Special events of the Buddha’s life and the stories of Jathaka Katha are depicted in these frescoes. 

The arrival of Prince Wijeya is depicted in a fresco in the cave number 17. This shows the relationship between the two countries over millenia. Many incidents relating to the Arrival of Prince Wijeya in Sri Lanka are depicted in one frame. On the left side, the Prince and his retinue of 700 followers are depicted while on the right side their fight with Yakkhas of Sri Lanka. Yakkhas of Sri Lanka are depicted as had fought from the sky. On the top right corner is the depiction of coronation of King Wijeya as the King of Sri Lanka. Concerns are raised whether these frescoes had been drawn by Sri Lankans. 

Although Ajantha caves has not been a favourite destination for local Indian tourists, the site is popular among Sri Lankans as the frescoes of Ajantha bears resemblance to Sigiriya. This site is an important one for the Buddhists.  

The Government of India should be praised for preserving this archaeologically significant Buddhist heritage for the future generations. We as Buddhists should be grateful to the Indian Government for preserving such valuable sites.

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