In 1819, a group of British soldiers on a hunting expedition chanced upon the Ajanta caves, lying in the horseshoe-shaped ravine of a river some 200 miles northeast of Bombay. Ranging in date from the second century BC to the sixth century AD, the paintings and sculptures that they found there now rank among the world’s most important cultural treasures. Since the rediscovery of the caves, numerous attempts have been made to photograph the murals and sculptures accurately, but these works of art were created using the glow of lamps and candles, not the harsh light of modern professional photography. Now, in The Ajanta Caves, using long exposures that pick up natural ambient light, Benoy K. Behl captures some of the finest works of Buddhist art in all their natural luminosity. The artists who created the Ajanta caves were early followers of the Buddha, and they sought an isolated haven where they could meditate in peace. What is unique about the paintings is not their variety, nor the skill displayed in their composition, but their humanity; the men and women of this world look upon each other with expressions of infinite caring.
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