The Ajanta enigma; in a different light

Himalayan News Service


The Ajanta Caves are a World Heritage site and were sculpted and painted in phases over the period from the second century BC to the sixth century AD.

The name Ajanta reminds us of its colourful frescoes. The sculptors of this world heritage site have caught the attention of people for long and art historians and common people alike have been mesmerised by the beauty of these creations. Located near Aurangabad in Maharashtra, Ajanta is clubbed with the Ellora caves as a major tourist attraction.

While the Ajanta frescoes in the cave-temples excavated by Buddhists depict the life of the Buddha in various births — tales from the Jatakas, the Ellora caves have Buddhist, Brahmanical and Jain temples, the most famous being the Kailash Temple — a huge monolith. And shots of these picturesque but still unrevealed frescoes have been put up at Nepal Art Council in an art exhibition organised by Embassy of India, Kathmandu in association with National Museum, New Delhi and Nepal Art Council.

Ajanta Caves were lost to civilisation for over a 1,000 years, these caves being spiritually inspirational and a fountainhead of Asian Buddhist art. Binoy K Behl, an Indian documentary filmmaker and art historian, has used a new technique of photography to capture glimpses of the ancient art of sculpture in detail despite the poorly lit environs of the caves.

Until recently, photographs had failed to accurately bring out the colours and intensity of the Ajanta paintings because of the poor natural light in the caves and prohibition to use photographic flash lights but Behl has ‘conquered the darkness’ to bring out the fineness of the sculptures in his pictures. For the first time, the world outside is seeing the Ajanta paintings in their luminous and resplendent enigma.

The exhibition will continue till January 19.