In India the most ancient remaining temples are the rock-hewed monuments of the Buddhist period (c.255 B.C.–c.A.D. 300); important groups exist in W India, east of Mumbai. The typical interior is a vast cave divided by lavishly sculptured rock piers into nave and aisles; the sculptured facade, hewed from the cliff face, has a single huge opening to admit light. The principal Indian temples are gradual accretions around a sacred site, forming a religious center comprising shrines, cells for priests, and accommodations for pilgrims. The expression of symbolism is of paramount importance in both structure and ornaments.
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