Variety

Ajanta cave replicas on the anvil

| | Updated on: Oct 07, 2012
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For cave scholars who want to avoid the crowded original

If you are visiting the iconic Ajanta caves in May 2013, you could well be in for a surprise. The Maharashtra Government is planning to make exact replicas of the four important caves, and you just might be able go through an entirely different experience taking in the beauty without the accompanying cacophony of tourists.

These caves would soon be open for avid tourists, scholars and Indologist, who can enjoy watching the Buddhist statues and frescos without visiting the original caves. They are being built inside the Rs 72 crore Ajanta tourist centre, close to the original cave complex.

The tourist centre is a project devised by MTDC, currently in its second phase, to upgrade the surrounding infrastructure associated with the 6th Century AD caves, which are a prominent tourist destination.

The 30 rock-cut caves attract over three lakh Indian tourists and 30,000 foreign tourists regularly. The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) is the lead developer of the tourist centre. A senior MTDC officer told Business Line that cave number 1, 2, 16 and 17 attract the maximum number of tourist due to their beauty.

A number of visitors from Buddhist countries like Japan and South Korea spend hours on end in these caves, contemplating the beautiful images, he added.

The copies that are being commissioned aim to replicate the original experience for interested visitors and scholars, but without the clamour of regular tourists, the official said. The Managing Director of MTDC was not available for comment. The replicas will be made using regular cement, sand and a concoction of special chemicals. Superstone Koats, a Mumbai-based design company has been contracted to do them.

Explaining the technique of making the statues, Rakesh Rathod, Managing Director of the company said that a basic skeletal frame of the statue is made, on which the cement is sprayed with a special device. Before the cement starts setting in, the sculptors start carving the cement.

The sculptors depend on digital photographs and their own skills to create the statues, he said.

“Once the cement is carved into an image, it looks like a real stone statue,” Rathod added.

He said that the technology behind creating the statues has been sourced from a US company. A team of 70 international artists are working on the project for the last three months. Another project using the same technology has been used at a Mayan archaeological site in Mexico.

> rahul.wadke@thehindu.co.in

Published on October 07, 2012

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