Ellora Caves, along with the nearby Ajanta Caves, form one of the major tourist attractions in Marathwada region of Maharashtra. Ellora is a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India.
Ellora was an important historic commercial center of the Deccan region, located on an ancient trade route of South Asia. The caves served as monasteries for monks, temples for prayers and a place for pilgrims to rest, but now is an archaeological site. It is 29 kilometres (18 miles) north-west of the city of Aurangabad, and about 300 kilometres (190 miles) east-northeast from Mumbai.
Ellora is one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple caves complexes in the world, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Maharashtra, India. The site presents monuments and artwork of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism from the 600-1000 CE period.
Cave 16 of Ellora features the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world, the Kailasha temple, a chariot shaped monument dedicated to Shiva. The Kailasha temple excavation also presents the gods, goddesses and mythologies found in Vaishnavism, Shaktism and relief panels summarizing the two major Hindu Epics.
The site features over 100 caves, of which 34 caves are open to public. These were excavated out of the vertical basalt cliff in the Charanandri hills. These consist of 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12), 17 Hindu (caves 13–29) and 5 Jain (caves 30–34) caves.
Each group presents the respective deities and mythologies prevalent in 1st millennium CE, as well as the monasteries of that religion. They were built in proximity and illustrate the religious harmony prevalent in ancient India.
All Ellora monuments were built by Hindu dynasties, such as the Rashtrakuta dynasty who built some of the Hindu & Buddhist group of caves, and Yadav dynasty who built some of the Jain group of caves.