Top Ten Rock-Cut Architecture

Top Ten Rock-Cut Architecture

Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia5

  1. Kailash Temple, India

    Kailash Temple (Kailashnath Temple), also Kailasanatha Temple is one of the 34 monasteries and temples, extending over more than 2 km, that were dug side by side in the wall of a high basalt cliff in the complex located at Ellora, Maharashtra, India, and represents the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture. It is designed to recall Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva. While it exhibits typical Dravidian features, it was carved out of one single rock. It was built in the 8th century by the Rashtrakuta king Krishna I. The Kailash Temple is notable for its vertical excavation, carvers started at the top of the original rock, and excavated downward, exhuming the temple out of the existing rock. The traditional methods were rigidly followed by the master architect, which could not have been achieved by excavating from the front. The architects found to design this temple were from the southern Pallava kingdom. It is estimated that about 200,000 tons of rocks was scooped out over hundreds of years to construct this monolithic structure. From the chisel marks on walls of this temple, archaeologists could conclude that three types of chisels were used to carve this temple.
    Links: Top Ten Indian Attractions, Temples, Top Ten Asian Temples, Top Ten Indian Temples,,
  2. Ajunta Cave Temple Complex, India
    File:Ajanta (63).jpgFile:Ajanta cave9 2010.jpgFile:Ajanta Padmapani.jpgFile:Indischer Maler des 7. Jahrhunderts 001.jpgFile:Cave 01 porch.jpgFile:Ajanta Ellora buddha statue aurangabad maharastra.jpgFile:Another Stupa of Ajanta.JPGFile:Aurangabad - Ajanta Caves (55).JPGFile:Indischer Maler des 6. Jahrhunderts 001.jpgFile:Engravings outside one of the caves in Ajanta.JPG
           The Ajanta Caves of Maharashtra, India are 30 rock-cut cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BC to about 500 or 600 AD. The caves include paintings and sculptures considered to be masterpieces of Buddhist religious art, with Buddha figures and depictions of the Jataka tales. The caves were built in two phases starting around 2nd century BC, with the second group of caves built around 600 AD according to older accounts, or from 460 to 480 according to the recent proposals of Walter M. Spink. The caves are located in the Indian state of Maharashtra, near Jalgaon, just outside the village of Ajinṭhā, about 59 km from Jalgaon Railway station (on the Delhi – Mumbai, Rail line of the Central railways, India), and 104 km from Aurangabad. They are 100 km from the Hindu Ellora Caves. The caves are cut into the side of a cliff that is on the south side of a U-shaped gorge on the small river Waghora (or Wagura), and although they are now along and above a modern pathway running across the cliff they were originally reached by individual stairs or ladders from the side of the river 35 to 110 ft below. The area was previously heavily forested, and after the site ceased to be used the caves were covered by jungle until accidentally rediscovered in 1819 by a British officer on a hunting party. They are Buddhist monastic buildings, apparently representing a number of distinct “monasteries” or colleges. The caves are numbered 1 to 27 according to their place along the path, beginning at the entrance. Several are unfinished and some barely begun and included in the traditional numbering as e.g. “15a.” Further round the gorge are a number of waterfalls, which when the river is high are audible from outside the caves. The caves form the largest corpus of early Indian wall-painting; indeed other survivals from the area of modern India are very few indeed, though they are related to 5th century paintings at Sigiriya in Sri Lanka. The elaborate architectural carving in many caves is also very rare, and the style of the many figure sculptures is a highly local one, found only at a couple of nearby contemporary sites, although the Ajanta tradition can be related to the later Hindu Ellora Caves and other sites.
    Links: Top Ten Indian Attractions, Top Ten Buddhist Temples, Caves, Top Ten Asian Caves,
  3. Petra, Jordan

    Links: Top Ten Jordanian Attractions,
  4. Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih), Saudi Arabia

    Mada’in Saleh, also called Al-Hijr or Hegra, is a pre-Islamic archaeological site located in the Al-Ula sector, within the Al Madinah Region of Saudi Arabia. A majority of the vestiges date from the Nabatean kingdom (1st century AD). The site constitutes the kingdom’s southernmost and largest settlement after Petra, its capital. Traces of Lihyanite and Roman occupation before and after the Nabatean rule, respectively, can also be found in situ, while accounts from the Qur’an tell of an earlier settlement of the area by the tribe of Thamud in the 3rd millennium BC. According to the Islamic text, the Thamudis, who would carve out homes in the mountains, were punished by Allah for their persistent practice of idol worship and for conspiring to kill the prophet whom He sent, the non-believers being struck by an earthquake and lightning blasts. Thus, the site has earned a reputation down to contemporary times as a cursed place, an image which the national government is attempting to overcome as it seeks to develop Mada’in Saleh, officially protected as an archaeological site since 1972, for its tourism potential. In 2008, for its well-preserved remains from late antiquity, especially the 131 rock-cut monumental tombs, with their elaborately ornamented façades, of the Nabatean kingdom, UNESCO proclaimed Mada’in Saleh as a site of patrimony.
    Links: Top Ten Saudi Arabian Attractions,,
  5. Vardzia, Georgia

    The cave city of Vardzia is a cave monastery dug into the side of the Erusheli mountain in southern Georgia near Aspindza on the left bank of the Mtkvari River. It was founded by Queen Tamar in 1185. The monastery was constructed as protection from the Mongols and consisted of over six thousand apartments in a thirteen story complex. The city included a church, a throne room and a complex irrigation system watering terraced farmlands. The only access to the complex was through some well hidden tunnels near the Mtkvari River. An earthquake in Samtskhe destroyed approximately two thirds of the city in 1283, exposing the caves to outside view and collapsing the irrigation system. The church was reinforced and an externally visible bell tower added during the reign of Beka Jakheli in the 13th century. Persians commanded by Shah Tahmasp I raided the monastery in 1551, capturing all important icons and effectively ending the life of the monastery.
    Links: Top Ten Georgian Attractions,,
  6. Elephanta Caves, India
    The Elephanta Caves are a network of sculpted caves located on Elephanta Island, or Gharapuri (literally “the city of caves”) in Mumbai Harbour, 10 km (6.2 mi) to the east of the city of Mumbai in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The island, located on an arm of the Arabian Sea, consists of two groups of caves, the first is a large group of five Hindu caves, the second, a smaller group of two Buddhist caves. The Hindu caves contain rock cut stone sculptures, representing the Shaiva Hindu sect, dedicated to the god Shiva. The rock cut architecture of the caves has been dated to between the 5th and 8th centuries, although the identity of the original builders is still a subject of debate. The caves are hewn from solid basalt rock. All the caves were also originally painted in the past, but now only traces remain. The island was called Gharapuri and was a Hindu place of worship until Portuguese rule began in 1534. The Portuguese called the island Elephanta on seeing its huge gigantic statue of an Elephant at the entrance. The Statue is now placed in the garden outside the Bhau Daji Lad Museum (erstwhile Victoria & Albert Museum) at the Jijamata Udyaan (erstwhile Victoria Gardens) at Byculla in Mumbai. This cave was renovated in the 1970’s after years of neglect.
    Links: Top Ten Indian Attractions,,
  7. Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde, USA
    The Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling in North America. The structure built by the Ancient Pueblo Peoples is located in Mesa Verde National Park in their former homeland region. The cliff dwelling and park are in the southwestern corner of Colorado, in the Southwestern United States.
    Links: Top Ten US Attractions, Palaces, Top Ten North American Palaces,
  8. Göreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
    Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of CappadociaGöreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia1Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia2Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia3Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia4Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia5Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia6Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia7Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia8Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of CappadociaGöreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia1Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia2
    The unique stone formations of this region in central Turkey were made even more picturesque when homes, monasteries and today even hotels, were carved into them beginning around 300 AD.
    Links: Top Ten Turkish Attractions,
  9. Lalibela, Ethiopia

    Lalibela is a town in northern Ethiopia, known for its monolithic churches. Lalibela is one of Ethiopia’s holiest cities, second only to Aksum, and is a center of pilgrimage for much of the country. Unlike Aksum, the population of Lalibela is almost completely Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. The layout and names of the major buildings in Lalibela are widely accepted, especially by the local clergy, to be a symbolic representation of Jerusalem. This has led some experts to date the current form of its famous churches to the years following the capture of Jerusalem in 1187 by the Muslim soldier Saladin. Located in the Semien Wollo Zone of the Amhara ethnic division, or kilil at 2,500 meters above sea level, Lalibela is one of two towns in Bugna woreda.
    Links: Top Ten Ethiopian Attractions, Top Ten Churches,,_Ethiopia,
  10. Revash-Amazonas

  11. Rock Cut Tombs at Naqsh-e Rustam, Iran

    The rock-cut tomb at Naqsh-e Rustam north of Persepolis, copying that of Darius, is usually assumed to be that of Xerxes.
    Links: Top Ten Iranian Attractions, Top Ten Kings, Top Ten Tombs, Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten Middle Eastern Relieves,,
  12. Kanhera Caves, India
    The Kanheri Caves constitute a group of rock-cut monuments that are located north of Borivali on the western outskirts of Mumbai, India. Deep within the green forests of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the caves are 6 km from the main gate & 7 km from Borivali Station. The Kanheri Caves demonstrate the Buddhist influence on the art and culture of India. Kanheri comes from the Sanskrit Krishnagiri, which means “black mountain.” They were chiseled out of a massive basaltic rock outcropping.
    Links: Top Ten Indian Attractions,
  13. Montezuma Castle, USA

    Montezuma Castle is a 20-room, five-story cliff dwelling that was home to the prehistoric Sinagua Indians. It is considered to be one of the most well preserved cliff dwellings in North America.
    Links: Top Ten US AttractionsCastles, Top Ten North American Castles,
  14. Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, New Mexico, USA

    Links: Top Ten US Attractions,
  15. Links: Attractions, Architecture,

Check Out These Cutting Edge Products