Cave 6 was planned as a two-level vihara. The lower level is a pillar hall, to support the upper level; the stairs to the upper level are inside the lower level. Both levels have shrines. However, the remains of the cave show cave six's history to be strange. The lower shrine started as a circumambulatable stupa, which was then converted to a Buddha image. The entire lower cave appears to have been painted, but most of the paint is gone.

The upper level is even more interesting. It can be easily blocked off from the lower level. There are three shrines in Upper 6- the main shrine in the back cell, one in the cell to the right (like Hariti in Cave 2) and one in the front right cell, which has heavy smoke damage and several images clustered just outside which were painted. Upper 6 also has a large number of small images placed helter-skelter, and even recarved!

Small Buddha triad carved in one of the window niches of Upper 6.


The main shrine in Cave 6 appears to have been unfinished. The ceiling in the antechamber is plastered but not painted, as are the side walls in the main shrine. The images in the antechamber seem to be unplanned, and crammed into odd spaces; they are probably intrusive. However, some of the images appeared to be individually painted and protected by curtains, and have their own garland hooks. The main shrine was therefore not completely abandoned for the heavily used shrine in the front right cell. The original patron for Cave 6 must have had his shrine and Buddha dedicated before abandoning the project to the second patron, who beuilt the front right shrine.

Painting ceiling corner inside the front right shrine, Upper Cave 6.

The front right shrine has no less than 16 holes for garland hooks, was completely finished and painted, and is heavily smoke damaged. These are all signs of a well-trafficked shrine. Adding to the high visibility of the shrine, several large intrusive panels were carved and painted next to the cell, and the ceiling and walls in a six by four block outside the cell were painted- the rest of the ceiling and walls of Upper 6 were never completed.

The third shrine is incomplete. This third patron was forced to abandon the project prematurely.


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The porch of Upper Six is crumbling away, but two cells remain, half fallen. The flag pole holder, in the form of a yaksa, also remains. Although incomplete, Cave 6 was heavily used, home to monks and important Ajanta shrines. This shows that monks lived in caved even though incomplete. The cave also provides information about the importance of shrines and the nature of intrusive imagery- just because an image was not in the original plan of the original patron does not mean that it was less important or less revered. The curtained images in the Upper six shrine antechamber, the intrusive front right shrine, and the painted images around the shrines demonstrates their importance.





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