In the 3rd century B.C., Emperor Asoka and his grandson Dasratha made caves near Barabar in Bihar for the Ajivikas, a deeply ascetic sect. Thus began a great tradition that lasted up to the 10th century A.D. Hundreds of magnificent rock-cut caves were chiseled out of the hills of the Western Ghats, the Krishna Valley, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and other places.
The site of Ellora, on the outskirts of the city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra, witnessed the grand culmination of more than a thousand years of the rock-cutting tradition. From the 6th century A.D. up to the 10th century A.D., the last caves to be made for the Buddhist, Hindu and Jaina faiths were created here. Thirty-five caves were cut out of the western face of an outcrop of the Sahyadari hills.
The caves of the three faiths were made in overlapping periods, and as everywhere in ancient India, this demonstrates the generous attitude of rulers towards the worship of all divinities. As with other sites, the caves at Ellora were created on a trade route, in this case one heading from nearby Paithan to Ujjain in central India.