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About the
Lake Forest College Collection

The Lake Forest College Collection “Religious Sites in Maharashtra” contains images of three sites in the west Indian state of Maharashtra: Ellora, Khuldabad, and Ajanta, pilgrimage sites for Hindus, Jains, Muslims, and Buddhists.

Located in the western ghats of central Maharashtra, the village of Ellora has been home to Jains, Hindus, and Buddhists who excavated and settled a series of caves in the steep basalt rock hillsides from the 6th to 9th centuries. Outside the caves, roads through the town of Ellora lead to a myriad of Hindu shrines and temples, Jain temples and ashrams, and ancient caves inhabited today by contemporary devotees and ascetics.

Up the plateau from Ellora is neighboring Khuldabad, a 700-year old Muslim village containing the mosques, shrines and tombs of prominent Sufi saints. Historic Khuldabad also supports an impressive white mosque in the center of the village that houses the simple tomb of the last Mughal Emporer, Aurangzeb, who died nearby in 1707 CE. Traveling from miles around, childless couples seek blessing at the tombs of the saints, parents bring children to these shrines in thanksgiving for the health of their offspring, and traditional singers perform the devotional Sufi songs of qawwali.

At Ajanta, thirty Buddhist Caves carved into a crescent-shaped rocky hillside that overlooks a picturesque gorge of the winding Waghora River and its waterfalls functioned as dwellings and prayer halls for Buddhist monks. The internal spaces and highly adorned entrances to these caves were crafted over a period of about 700 years, beginning in the 2nd century BCE

The photos in this collection were taken in January 2003 by Cathy Benton and the audio files were recorded by Mark Nelson. For more information, please contact Cathy Benton at:

Lake Forest College is located in Chicago, Illinois.

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