The rock-cut architecture-Early Indian Art and history - Sleepy Classes IAS Skip to main content

The rock-cut architecture-Early Indian Art and history

Ques. The rock-cut architecture represents one of the most important sources of our knowledge of early Indian art and history. Discuss.


  • Rock-cut architecture is the practice of creating a structure, by carving out of the solid natural rock. Indian rock-cut architecture is mostly religious in nature and contain artwork of global importance, adorned with exquisite stone carvings representing significant achievements of structural engineering and craftsmanship through which glimpses of early Indian art and History is represented –
    • Way of life
      • The Barabar caves throw light on the kind of tools used by prehistoric people and evolution from Palaeolithic to Chalcolithic era.
      • Lomas Rishi caves illustrate Jataka tales and put light on daily ways of life during the period.
    • Trade
      • traders many a times travelled the active international trade routes through India in company of the Buddhist missionaries.
        • The caves at Kanheri and Ajanta show indications of association between the religion and commerce.
        • For instance the Bhaja Caves lies on a significant ageold trade route that ran from the Arabian Sea eastward to the Deccan plateau.
      • Religion
        • Buddhism: Ajanta Caves, Bhaja caves, Karle caves.
        • Hinduism:Kailasanath temple at Ellora
        • Jainism: Udaygiri and Khandavgiri caves
        • AjivikaSect :Barabara caves
      • Political Aspect
        • Caves were patronized by kings across country Example – Barbara caves by Ashoka, Ellora caves by Rashtrakutas ,Badami by Chalukyas and sathavahanas.
      • Education center: Kanheri caves were biggest education center in Western India.
      • Environment Conservation: Water resources are prevalent at Kanheri which shows water harvesting was practiced at caves.
      • Gender equality: Mandapeshwar, a small cave at its entrance shows equality of gender in the form of sculptures of donor couples.
    • Therefore, rock cut architecture helps us to trace the life in India from its origin and its Evolution through socio – political perspective and how it changed the Indian way of life.