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Buddhist Columns

columns are of two types one is based on Persepolitan type and other Greco-Roman type. The former is octagonal with bell shaped capital supporting animal sculptures such as lion, horse, bull, sedent, elephants carrying male and female ride on a chakra or wheel

The shaft is highly polished and has a vaseshaped base probably derived from the upright timber post placed in an earthen pot to protect it from attacks of insects and water. Some authorities on architecture consider this column to be entirely of Indian origin and wrongly termed as Persepolitan type. The Greco-Roman type is rectangular with shallow flutes. They are tall and slender; the height nearly six to eight times its lower diameter. At top is a capital usually with a fluted vase motif.

Ashoka Pillars

As the stupa from the nature of its structure was subject to disintegration owing to the rigours of the climate, it became necessary for the Mauryan Emperor to seek for some still more lasting method of achieving his purpose. Aware no doubt that other nations were using stone, he began therefore to "think in stone," and in the course of time an impressive monument symbolizing the creed was devised, in the form of a pillar, a lofty free-standing monolithic column, erected on a site especially selected on account of its sacred associations. A number of these Asokan pillars were distributed over a wide area and a few bear ordinances inscribed in a manner similar to the edicts on the surfaces of the rocks.

As works of art the Asoka pillars hold a high place. They are boldly designed, finely proportioned, and well balanced conceptions, fulfilling admirably the purpose for which they were intended. This purpose was solely monumental, as they are free standing pillars, not part of an architectural composition, an object which has been kept in view throughout. The animals, which are the main features in the scheme, are noble conventional representations, spirited yet dignified, ideal examples of their kind.

Ajanta Caves (2nd century B.C.)


caves are about 60 km from Jalgaon. The situation of Ajanta is picturesque and romantic. The caves are situated in a horse-shoe shaped valley and spread over a length of more than 500 m from the east to the west. There are some 30 caves out of which 9, 10, 19, 26 and 29 are chaitya halls and others are monasteries or viharas.


cave walls are filled with deities of the Buddhist pantheon. The chaitya cave No.26, excavated out of solid rock is the most representative of the group. It has a small rectangular doorway with a horse-shoe-shaped window opening above, with tracery work through which light is admitted into the vaulted hall.


vaulted hall has an apsidal end and is divided longitudinally by two rows of columns forming a broad nave and two aisles. At end, a stupa is carved out of natural rock with the statue of Buddha seated in front with his feet down and surrounded by his attendants and heavenly flying figures. Closely spaced ribs cut from rock, representing prototype timber members, supplement the vaulted roof.

The Ajanta caves are famous for their pulsating Frescoes all over the world. The Ajanta Frescoes contain beautiful paintings and illustrations of Buddha's life. These are ranked among the world's finest and most exquisite mural paintings. plaster used for the walls is about 1 cm thick and comprises of hay, cow-dung and rice husk. The surface was first made evenly smooth. The evenly plastered surface was then coated with lime, outlines were drawn and finally colour was applied to produce beautiful paintings.

Caves at Ellora

village named after the king Ela who ruled over it. These are situated at about 34 km from Aurangabad at the foot of an off-shoot of the Sahyadri range. Nagarjuna, founder of the Mahayana School of Buddhism is said to have had them excavated in 1st century. They are all adorned with images of Buddha seated on a throne and flanked by two attendants, Padmapani and Vajrapani.

There are in total twelve Buddhist caves here. There is only one chaitya and the remainings are viharas. In construction these are similar to that at Ajanta. The caves have a vaulted hall with apsidal end divided by two rows of columnades forming a broad nave in centre. A stupa carved in natural rock has a cylindrical base supporting a huge dome with the statue of the Buddha seated in front, with his feet down, surrounded by several flying figures. Columns are rectangular with shallow flutes and wide capitals at the top.

Design an exterior wall of a temple taking inspiration from Buddhist architecture.

PS. Assume the dimensions on your own