It may be an understatement, but people sure have accomplished some truly amazing things in the name of religion. The frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, for example, are some of the most spectacular pieces of not just religious art, but art in general.

That’s true of much of the art throughout the world. What you may think of as religious art is likely just the beginning!

Take these Buddhist caves in India, for example. They were hidden for generations, and now that they’ve been revealed, it’s shocking that more people aren’t talking about what was discovered inside of them…

There are all sorts of fantastic and memorable structures, both natural and manmade, all around the globe. That said, there’s something particularly special about a cave that can seem like something out of a fairy tale.

Of course, there are plenty of reasons for this. In fiction stories, for instance, magical and exciting things happen in caves all of the time. Yet, much of what makes caves interesting is still very much grounded in reality.

Few caves are as full of wonder as those discovered by British officer John Smith in April 1819. Smith had been hunting a tiger in the forest outside of Mumbai, India, when he stumbled upon a strange entrance hidden in the brush—and what he found inside was something to behold…

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Inside the massive entrance, Smith discovered a vast cave full of what appeared to be a staggering number of ornate, manmade carvings. Yet that was just the beginning of what would end up revealing an ancient secret…

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Smith moved deeper and deeper into the mysterious cave, where he found murals sprawled across the wall that hinted at the cave’s purpose. But they weren’t the only things Smith stumbled upon in this cavern…

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Further investigation into the cave revealed an entire complex system of shrines and monuments carved directly into the rock. Even now, some 200 years after Smith discovered the caves, there’s much more to see!

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All in all, there are no fewer than 30 different caves throughout the entire system, which is referred to as the Ajanta Caves. It’s important to appreciate the intense level of craft and care that was put into these structures…

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Experts believe that the caves were constructed sometime around 200 B.C.E. as a retreat for Buddhist monks during the terrible monsoon season. It’s easy to see how a place like this could have protected them from storms.

Each of the caves is unique and contains its own intricately designed entrance and interior. Even in ancient times, this was clearly an extremely advanced society that knew exactly what they were doing, especially architecturally.

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The caves were largely abandoned by the 7th century, but they remained a sacred place for locals to visit. It’s easy to see why! Even if you aren’t a Buddhist yourself, there’s no denying the exquisite beauty of these locales.

Many of the carvings depict the life of Buddha and his many incarnations. These ancient peoples’ dedication to their religion comes shining through thanks to the level of craftsmanship on display.

There are also many more of those gorgeous paintings, many of which are—fortunately—remarkably well-preserved for works of art that are so old. They certainly still hold up!

It’s amazing how much color and detail remains after all those centuries, especially without the help of art history experts who know how to protect such things. Obviously, being underground must have protected them quite well.

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One of the more popular theories surrounding these Buddhist caves is that they were all built to align with the solstices and other cosmological events. After all, many ancient civilizations possessed remarkable astronomical knowledge.

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This theory is supported by the locations of caves 19 and 26, which do actually align perfectly with the winter and summer solstices, respectively. Even skeptics have to admit how amazing that is.

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On each of their designated days, the sun shines straight through the holes in their roofs, illuminating the religious displays within. It must have been incredible for those ancient societies to witness.

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Even after more than 2,000 years, the interiors are still absolutely stunning. In this age of modernization and industrialization, it could often seem difficult to believe that places like this could still exist.

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The effort and precision required to build these elaborate structures is mind-boggling. These civilizations didn’t have access to electricity or the kind of expensive construction equipment that we have today!

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Considering they had to complete these glorious projects with comparatively limited tools, there’s no telling just how long these structures must have taken to complete, nor how many people were required to work on them.

We may never know exactly how they managed to build these incredible caves, but that’s just part of the reason why they remain so fascinating to this day. Hopefully, even more of the caves’ mysteries will be answered soon!

Simply amazing. It really makes you wonder what other secrets may still be hiding out there, waiting to be discovered by adventurous souls.

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