isis unveiled: chapter x (outside the walls…)

“Even remains of architectural relics of the earliest races have been sadly neglected by antiquarians, until now. The caverns of Ajunta, which are but 200 miles from Bombay, in the Chandor range, and the ruins of the ancient city of Aurungabad, whose crumbling palaces and curious tombs have lain in desolate solitude for many centuries, have attracted attention but very recently.

Mementos of long by-gone civilization, they were allowed to become the shelter of wild beasts for ages before they were found worthy of a scientific exploration, and it is only recently that the Observer gave an enthusiastic description of these archaic ancestors of Herculaneum and Pompeii. After justly blaming the local government which “has provided a bungalow where the traveler may find shelter and safety, but that is all”, it proceeds to narrate the wonders to be seen in this retired spot, in the following words:

“In a deep glen away up the mountain there is a group of cave-temples which are the most wonderful caverns on the earth. It is not known at the present age how many of these exist in the deep recesses of the mountains; but twenty-seven have been explored, surveyed, and, to some extent, cleared of rubbish. There are, doubtless, many others.

It is hard to realize with what indefatigable toils these wonderful caves have been hewn from the solid rock of amygdaloid. They are said to have have been wholly Buddhist in their origin, and were used for purposes of worship and asceticism. They rank very high as works of art. They extend over 500 feet along a high cliff, and are carved in the most curious manner, exhibiting, in a wonderful degree, the taste, talent, and persevering industry of the Hindu sculptors.

These cave-temples are beautifully cut and carved on the outside; but inside they were finished most elaborately, and decorated with a vast profusion of sculptures and paintings. These long-deserted temples have suffered from dampness and neglect, and the paintings and frescos are not what they were hundreds of years ago. But the colors are still brilliant, and scenes gay and festive still appear the walls.

Some of the figures cut in the rock are taken for marriage-processions and scenes in domestic life that are represented as joyful. The female figures are beautiful, delicate, and fair as Europeans. Every one of these representations is artistic, and all of them are unpolluted by any grossness or obscenity generally so prominent in Brahmanical representations of a similar character.

These caves are visited by a great number of antiquarians, who are striving to decipher the hieroglyphics inscribed on the walls and determine the age of these curious temples.””

H. P. Blavatsky

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