Rock Cut Architectures

To carve entire buildings from natural rock is quite a marvel. What’s even more surprising is how people have been carving places of worship from a single large slab of stone since before the 3rd century BCE. Many such places required several generations of planning and coordination to complete. The following twelve rock cut architectures from various locales are out of this world and extraordinary.


Posted by David Galbraith

 
&quot;The Ajanta Caves are rock-cut cave monuments dating from the second century BCE, containing paintings and sculpture considered to be masterpieces of &#039;Buddhist religious art&#039;. <p /><p />The complex of Ajanta consists of several viharas (monastic halls of residence) and chaitya-grihas (stupa monument halls) cut into the mountain scarp in two phases.&quot;
&quot;Pataleshwar cave temple literally means &#x201c;God of underground&#x201d;. The word is derived from two words &#x201c;Patal&#x201d; (means Underground of the earth) and &#x201c;Eshwar&#x201d; (means God). This temple is a rock-cut cave temple, carved out from a single rock in the 8th century in the Rashtrakuta period. The entire structure is carved out of basalt or black rock.&quot;
&quot;The Mogao cave complex is comprised of 492 caves, containing 450,000 square feet of murals dating from the fourth to the fourteenth centuries - a period which corresponds to an immense growth in international commerce along the nearby Silk Road. The caves were abandoned in the fourteenth century and lay untouched until the beginning of the twentieth century.&quot;
&quot;The first caves were carved on the Wuzhou south-facing cliff beginning in the mid-5th century (after 453 or 460) and were built under the supervision of Tan Yao. Constructed under imperial patronage, these early caves reflect an austere monumentality that is almost pharaonic in concept. Later caves and carvings came under the patronage of court officials and finally by other classes. Many of the latter reflect a more florid and joyous style. The grottoes were to become a significant worship center.&quot;
&quot;The Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple (twin temples) is one of the largest temples in India. The original temple built by Kulasekara Pandyan was in ruins. The plan for the current temple structure was laid by Viswanath Naik and was completed by Tirumalai Nayakar. Both temples are adorned with exquisite carvings &amp; sculptures.&quot;
&quot;Lalibela is one of Ethiopia&#039;s holiest cities, second only to Aksum, and is a center of pilgrimage for much of the country. The Church of St. George is a monolithic church, having been cut from a single block of stone. It is the most well known and last built (early thirteenth century) of the eleven churches in the Lalibela area.&quot;
&quot;Situated in the heart of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park are the Kanheri caves. They are almost 109 in number and date back to somewhere between 1st century BC and 9th century AD. Kanheri Caves signify a golden beginning and the end of Buddhism in the northern India. Buddhist Monks as well as traders, who traveled for religious favors, used to make use of these caves on a frequent basis. &quot;
&quot;The Lycians are thought to have been particularly skilled in the art of tomb-making and the landscaped of the region is still dotted with them today (1,085 intact examples at the last count). They used the soft limestone rock of the region to carve elaborate monuments to their dead, sometimes setting them straight into cliff faces.<p /><p />Lycia was an important center of worship for the goddess Leto and later, her twin children, Apollo and Artemis.&quot;
"Cappadocia is a vast geographic region within the Anatolian plateau of central Turkey known for these underground cities which were intended for extended periods of habitation, and were built with ventilation chimneys, churches, living quarters, meeting halls, kitchen facilities, water wells, toilets, and manufacturing areas."
&quot;The grottoes and niches of Longmen contain the largest and most impressive collection of Chinese art of the late Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties (316-907). These works, entirely devoted to the Buddhist religion, represent the high point of Chinese stone carving.&quot;
"Petra lies in a great rift valley east of Wadi 'Araba in Jordan about 80 kilometers south of the Dead Sea. It came into prominence in the late first century through the success of the spice trade. The city was the principal city of ancient Nabataea and was famous above all for two things: its trade and its hydraulic engineering systems."
Located at the city of Aurangabad in the Indian state of Maharashtra are the Ellora caves. 34 caves of rock-cut temples and monasteries for the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain followers who live there.

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