Origin of Cave Paintings in India
The origin of cave paintings of India date back to the Prehistoric times. The finest examples of these Paintings comprise of the murals of Ajanta, Ellora, Bagh, Sittanavasal etc, which reflect an emphasis on naturalism. Ancient cave paintings of India serve as a window to our ancestors, who used to inhabit these caves.
Most of the paintings seen in the Ajanta cave date back to the period of the Mahayana sects of Buddhism. The themes of most of these paintings revolve around the life and teachings of the Lord Buddha. This includes the Jataka stories related to the various lives and incarnation of Buddha. Calligraphic lines characterise these paintings, which can be classified into portraits, narrative illustrations and ornamental decoration.
Ellora caves are nestled amidst the Chamadari hills, lying approximately 18 miles to the North-East of Aurangabad city. The paintings can be found in five caves. However, all of them are today preserved only in the Kailasa temple. The rock paintings of Ellora were painted in two different series. The first series, which were done when the caves carved, resolve around Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. The second series, painted centuries later, illustrate procession of Shaiva holy men, Apsaras etc.
The Bagh caves, situated on the banks of the Bagh River, have been excavated on the rock face of a lofty hill. The wall paintings of these caves date back to the period between the 5th and the 7th century. These paintings represent the most exquisite traditions of Indian art forms.
Sittanavasal is the site of an ancient Jaina Monastery, located at a distance of around 58 km from Trichy. The monastery is known for housing some of the most exquisite frescoes in a rock cave. Most of these cave paintings are based on the Pandyan period of the 9th century. The them, of these paintings include animals, fish, ducks, people collecting lotuses from a pond, two dancing figures etc. Apart from these, one can also find in them, inscriptions dating back to the 9th and the 10th centuries. The ceiling of the Ardhamandapan is adorned with murals from the 7th century.