Cave 17 has some of the most magnificent paintings of Ajanta. The porch is a stream of jataka narratives and early Buddhist themes in the graceful fifth century style. It is also connected with a cistern, from which you can still drink today.


Wall of Cave 17, with the Visvantara Jataka.


The left end of the porch once had a magnificent kalachakra- the Wheel of Rebirth, showing the different possibilities of reincarnation according to your actions, and the possibilities of elevation.


The main wall is covered in Jataka narratives: including the Visvantara Jataka, where the righteous and generous prince Visvantara gives away everything he has to help other people.

The Visvantara Jataka, where the prince tells his wife he is banished for giving away the kingdom's magical elephant.


Indra, King of teh Gods, descends from heaven to see the righteous prince and observe his generosity.


Over the door are eight Buddhas, including Maitreya, the next Buddha to come.

Hree, it is clear that two painters worked on the door, because the paint on the left has oxidized. Painters would have made their own paints, and each painter had his own way of creating the different colors required. Many of the paints are from minerals which oxidize; therefore Ajanta painting may have looked very different when it was completed, than as we see it today.


The ceiling of the Cave 17 porch is very elaborate, and beautifully executed. Through it we may imagine some of the other porch ceilings are that lost or direly damaged, like that of Cave 4.




Have pictures of Cave 17 you would like to share? Please contact me!


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