Old cultures and civilizations speak to us through various means. Written scriptures, paintings, sculptures and archeological remains all help us to understand these old civilizations. Rock carvings all around the world are a type of legacy left behind by ancient cultures. Not only do these structures tell us about the culture of that time but also about the technical abilities some of these civilizations possessed.
Cappadocia is a historical region in Central Anatolia in Turkey. The area has a lot of natural and man made wonders. The fairy chimneys rock formation are natural while there are rock houses, underground cities and a famous rock cut temple that have been carved out by man. The area is a popular tourist destination as thousands of people come to see these rock wonders.
9. Dazu Rock Carvings:
The rock carvings in Dazu area near Chongqing in China are exceptional carvings from the 9th to 13th century period. There are 5 clusters of rock carvings with a total of over 10,000 carvings. They depict secular and religious subjects about Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. They have been very well preserved and are known for their aesthetic quality.
Petra is a city built by cutting into the rock. It was established in 312 BC in what is now Jordan. The whole city has rock cut architecture and conduits built to bring water into the desert. The most famous of the buildings is the Al Khazneh temple. It was initially built as a mausoleum and crypt and later was rumored to hold treasure of the Egyptian Pharaoh.
7. Abu Simbel:
Abu Simbel is a rock cut temple in Egypt that was built in 1300 BC by Pharaoh Ramesses II. It was meant to be a monument to his wife and himself. It is one of the top destinations for tourists in Egypt. It was moved from its original location when the Aswan dam was built in 1968.
Lalibela is a town in Ethiopia that has a lot of monolithic rock cut churches. It is a holy town and a place of pilgrimage in Ethiopia second only after the town of Aksum. The churches are thought to have been built in 12th and 13th century. The names of the churches suggest that it was built to be a symbolic representation of Jerusalem.
5. Masroor Rock Cut Temple:
The monolithic rock cut temple of Masroor, 38 km from Kangra city is a hidden gem of Himachal Pradesh in India. It is thought to have been built by the Pandavas during the period of their exile in the Mahabharata. It is also called the Ajanta Ellora of Himachal Pradesh.
4. Lycian Tombs:
The Lycian people were Greek speaking people who lived in the Anatolia area of Turkey. The Lycian tombs are a series of rock cut tombs that they built by carving out a cliff face. The Lycians supported the Trojans in the Trojan war and were forced to relocate to Greece during the Greco-Turkish wars.
3. Longmen Caves:
Longmen caves and rock carvings in China are exceptional piece of rock art from ancient civilizations. There are more than a 100 statues carved into the cliff faces of Xiangshan and Longmenshan mountains. They were built during 400 to 1100 AD. The work was funded by donations from wealthy families and religious groups and the royalty.
2. Ajanta Caves:
The Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra in India are beautiful caves from the 2nd century BC. They are a combination of about 300 rock cut caves and contain many statues of Buddha and other Buddhist art including paintings. The architectural carvings in the caves are also very rare and beautiful. They are about 100 km from Ellora Caves.
1. Ellora Caves:
Ellora Caves in Maharashtra India are the epitome not just of Indian but world rock cut architecture. There are total 34 caves of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain religions. They are called caves but most are structures excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills. They date from the 5th to 10th century. They are of remarkable beauty and contain other art and intricate work on the walls.