Ellora There is a magical place, for most of us a remote one, called Ellora. It is an archaeological site located in the state of Maharashtra, India, about 30 kilometres from the city of Aurangabad. Places such as the Ellora Caves are usually the playthings of power and for those with a firm hand, even the impossible becomes possible.
There is a magical place, for most of us a remote one, called Ellora. It is an archaeological site located in the state of Maharashtra, India, about 30 kilometres from the city of Aurangabad.
Ellora, whose name – let’s admit it – sounds almost musical, was built by the Rashtrakuta Empire, a dynasty that ruled much of the Indian subcontinent between the 6th and 10th centuries. Things couldn’t have turned out otherwise. Places such as the Ellora Caves are usually the playthings of power and for those with a firm hand, even the impossible becomes possible.
It is hardly surprising then that these caves are now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Featuring monuments carved out of the living rock and on the vertical face of the Charanandri hills in particular, Ellora is the name given to in total 34 caves which contain monasteries and Buddhist, Hindu and Jain temples built over 10 centuries ago.
This architectural complex is approximately 1,500 years old. Fifteen hundred years later, it remains; stoic, watching over the world from above and witnessing chapter after chapter of history unfold. If only the hills could speak…
Furthermore, we know that this impressive complex played host to various religious trends. Indeed, 17 of the caves were Hindu, 12 Buddhist and 5 Jain. This, and the fact that they were built very close to each other, suggests that the different religions coexisted peacefully in that era. An era in which faith was not at odds with peace. An era in which tolerance was real.
All roads lead… to cannabis!
A team of researchers has discovered the secret as to why the complex of caves has been remarkably well preserved, despite the extreme climactic conditions, the normal processes of natural deterioration and the invasion of insects. The scientific answer, as published in the Times of India, is none other than cannabis. Yes, you read that right.
According to the newspaper, the experts have confirmed that the protective agent in question is a mixture of hemp, clay, plaster and lime. This compound is the reason why the caves have resisted deterioration for so long. Thanks to the use of hemp, both the caves and the vast majority of the paintings they contain have remained intact. In fact, according to Singh “this is the first site where this mixture of hemp, clay and plaster has been found in frescoes.”
Moreover, this is also the first time cannabis has been found mixed with lime and mud, thus creating an imposing construction material. This is without doubt a spectacular discovery.
The power of the cannabis plant is nothing new at all. We know that in ancient civilisations, cannabis already played an important role in ceremonies and rituals due to its psychoactive effects. At the same time, society also discovered cannabis’s medicinal properties. In fact, Cannabis Sativa L. is the only plant in which all parts are useful. On the one hand, its stem provides us with one of the most resistant natural fibres in the world, enabling mankind to make paper, ropes, textiles and a long list of materials vital for daily life. On the other hand, the seeds contain all the essential amino acids and fatty acids necessary for a healthy lifestyle.
The inhabitants of Ellora were apparently already aware that the bounties of hemp are endless and hugely beneficial.
A study confirms cannabis’s resistance
The authors of the study are Rajdeo Singh, a former chemical and archaeological supervisor of the Scientific Department of the Archaeological Service of India and M M Sardesai, a professor of Botany at the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University. Both experts concluded that “cannabis sativa, popularly known as ganja or bhang, was found mixed in the clay and lime plaster at Ellora. This was confirmed by technologies such as scanning of the electron microscope, Fourier transform, infra-red spectroscopy and stereo-microscopic studies. Hemp samples were collected from areas in Jalna district near Aurangabad and also from the outskirts of Delhi. These specimens were matched with the samples found in cave number 12 of Ellora. There was no disparity. ”
The scientists, whose study was published in the magazine Current Science are adamant that “in the sample collected from the Ellora cave, we found 10% share of cannabis sativa in the mix of mud or clay plaster. This is the reason why no insect activity is found at Ellora.”
Hemp as a potential construction material.
Numerous studies have shown that hemp fibres are more durable and resistant than other types of fibres. On the other hand, they also have adhesive properties, which likely made for a potent binder. These properties help regulate humidity, which, in turn repelled insects.
Thus, the fact that both the walls and ceilings of the caves were coated with this hemp mixture meant that the environment was healthy and comfortable, which resulted in an unprecedented process of preservation.
It is for this reason that the experts are asking law enforcement agencies for “a solution which would enable the widespread use of cannabis sativa for construction.” Indeed, this is what the study itself proposes, and calls for the creation of “an independent authority tasked with issuing permits.”
As Sensi Seeds has shown in its articles, natural, biodegradable materials such as hemp have countless uses. This natural fibre can replace many polluting agents in construction, such as fibreglass or concrete. There are endless possibilities for safeguarding the environment, including increasing the use of hemp. So why don’t we do it?
An endless debate
There are two sides to every coin and Amitesh Kumar, Police Commissioner for Aurangabad, clarified the legal situation of cannabis in India. According to him “marijuana is banned under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. It cannot be grown, transported, possessed or consumed. Anybody found with the substance will face action.”
It is possible that Indian Government must also face what is already being called the “cannabis revolution.” Clearly the act, which was introduced in 1985, is more than obsolete and continues to maintain a senseless ban.
Ellora was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983. Could it be that it has once again unleashed its magic in order to remind the world that what comes from nature must go back to nature, without any need for laws, regulations bans or obstacles?