The caves of Pitalkhora are located near Ellora in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra. These form the oldest of the rock-cut cave architecture of India and are believed to belong to the Hinayana period of Buddhism contemporary to Satvahana dynasty. The caves were later adorned in the Mahayana period during the Vakataka rule. The caves are richly endowed with paintings and carving which make them highly exquisite. There are four caves in the complex which are large shrines or chaytya grihas and the other 10 caves are Buddhist monasteries.

The sculptures share a great resemblance to the ones at Sanchi, Karla and Nasik. The caves have inscriptions which have been made from 250 BC to 3rd – 4th century AD. In particular, two inscriptions mention “Pathitana” – Pratishtana, capital of Satavahana Empire. One inscription mentions “Dhanyakataka” – present-day Dharanikota, Andhra Pradesh. Today it is known as largest group of Hinayana Buddhism monuments in India.

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