|Caves and caverns are a series of hollow passages and underground tunnels and are formed by water entering a porous surface from above, or by the pounding of the ocean's waves around a landmass's coastline. Inland caves and caverns are generally found within the limestone areas of the world as these are the more porous of the earth's surfaces. Volcanic and earthquake activity also help to form caves and caverns. Caves are hollowed out over time and enlarge to form larger and larger hollows. Stalactites and stalagmites are incredible, calcium-rich formations that appear within caves and caverns. |
Occasionally a cave collapses, leaving a small entrance. The water works its way to the surface of the land and opens up to form a hole. The water builds up with the momentum of the waves and spurts out the top of the cave's hole. When this occurs it is known as a blowhole. Sometimes water is propelled hundreds of feet upwards into the air. Caves are thought to have been the location for prehistoric man's burials as substantial quantities of human remains have been found within the world's caves. Caves were also thought to have been used as a natural form of shelter during prehistoric times. Famous caves throughout the world include the Mammoth Cave in the USA, Wooky Hole in England, and the Ajanta Caves in India.
The caves at Ajanta are famous because of the decorative frescoes and early paintings that adorn the walls of the caves. The caves are Buddhist in origin and were thought to have been constructed between 200BC and 650AD, quite a bit older than Ajanta�s cousin group of caves at Ellora. Ajanta caves were all but abandoned and forgotten until a British hunting party re-discovered them in 1819. The many caves of the Ajanta group are situated around a bend in the Waghore River. There are 30 caves altogether, each of them cut into steep rock face. Ajanta can easily be reached from Aurangabad by bus.
Not as old as the Ajanta Caves but still very impressive are the Ellora Caves, built, it is thought, between 600-1000AD. There are three different types of religious caves represented at Ellora � Buddhist, Hindu and Jain. The Ellora Caves are just 30km from Aurangabad. The Batu Caves near Kuala Lumpur have been turned into a Hindu temple that marks the end of the Thaipussum festival in the Hindu Calendar.