14 Ellora caves to get facelift, ASI steps up conservation efforts

14 Ellora caves to get facelift, ASI steps up conservation efforts

14 Ellora caves to get facelift,  ASI steps up conservation efforts
The first 14 of the 100 ancient caves of Ellora will soon receive an expert touch, with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) deciding to start conservation work at the world heritage site in Maharashtra. Besides, plans for the conservation and repair work at the Pitalkhora caves, an ancient Buddhist site located about 40 km from Ellora in Aurangabad district, are also on the cards.

Of the 14 Ellora caves, the first 12 have monuments and artwork of Buddhism, while the remaining two have structures and artwork pertaining to Hinduism. Eleven out of the 12 Buddhist caves include rock-cut monasteries with prayer halls and large and multi-storeyed buildings that include living and sleeping quarters, kitchens and other rooms. The monastery caves have shrines with carvings of Gautama Buddha, Bodhisattvas and other saints. 

Cave 5 is considered to be unique as it has been designed as a hall with two parallel refectory benches at the centre and a statue of Buddha at the rear end. “We have floated a tender, inviting experienced contractors to take up the conservation work as planned for both the ancient sites. A contractor, having successfully completed similar conservation projects in the past seven years with proof of three such works, will be selected for the job, provided he or she also fulfils other terms and conditions stipulated for the work,” an ASI official told DH.

The conservation plans for the Ellora caves include dressing the exposed surfaces, stone flooring as per the existing pattern, removal of old damaged drainage, repairing decayed and loose plaster over the canopy and balconies of the caves and replastering these using cement mortar.

While the conservation work at the Ellora caves is estimated to cost the ASI nearly Rs 67 lakh, the work at the Pitalkhora caves is estimated to cost close to Rs 2 lakh. “Compared to the Ellora caves, conservation work to be carried out at the Pitalkhora caves is minor,” the official said.
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