The ancient caves of Ellora are located at a distance of about 29 kms. from the city of Aurangabad in the state of Maharashtra. The Jain caves, are 2 km north down an asphalt road. They reflect the distinctiveness of Jain philosophy and tradition, including a strict sense of asceticism combined with elaborate decoration. They are not large compared to others, but contain exceptionally detailed artworks. Many of the Jain caves had rich paintings in the ceilings, fragments of which are still visible. These caves represent one of the largest rock hewn temple complexes in the world. The caves are located in what was earlier a volcanic basaltic reagion in the Deccan hills. There are about a hundred caves in the area but only 34 of them are popular and out of them five are Jain caves(number 30 to 34) These caves are dated from the 9th century to 11th – 12th century.
Cave no.30: This cave is another unfinished excavation. As such it is difficult to say much what it relates to, but the sculptures on the wall have some carvings relating to Jain Tirthankars. It has a striking resemblance with the Great Kailasa; hence it is known as Chhota Kailasa (Small Kailasa). The same technique of rock excavation and converting it into structures were adopted and can still be well understood, though it is unfinished.
Cave no. 31: This is an unfinished four-pillared hall and a shrine. More details are not available about this cave currently.
Cave no. 32: The Cave 32 known as Indra Sabha is actually a series of shrines dedicated to Mahavira and other Jaina divinities aesthetically arranged in double storeys. The entrance leads into a small court at the center of which is a monolithic shrine on a high pedestal. A huge monolithic pillar known as manastambha which is 28 feet is to its right and a colossal monolithic elephant to its left.
The monolithic shrine at the center is reached by a flight of steps on the south and north, and with provisions of entrance on east and west but without steps. At the centre of the shrine is the Sarvatobhadra, a concept in Jainism of worshipping the four important tirthankaras, viz., lord Adinatha or Rishabhdev (1st Tirthankar), Neminath (22nd Tirthankar) Parsvanatha (23nd) and Bhagwan Mahavira (24th). The images of these tirthankaras are depicted on the cardinal directions. All the shrines in this section are primarily dedicated to Mahavira, flanked by his attendant deities, Indra on elephant and Ambika on lion. The side walls of the shrines usually depict the images of Gomateshwara or Bahubali (the son of Rishabhdev, in penance), Parsvanatha with the snake hood and subsidiary deities.
The doorway of the shrine is also elaborately carved with multiple bands of sculptures. This is called as Indra Sabha and this is the most important of the Jain caves. It has many fabulous carvings of Mahavira and other Jaina Tirthankars. There are superb paintings in this cave. This is another two storeyed cave.
Cave no. 34: This is a smaller cave as compared to the other ones and is called the Jagannath Sabha. Apart from many famour sculptures, many remains of murals on the wall and roof are visible here. There is a small hall Mahaveera and yaksha, yakshi idols are there.