Ageless Ajanta - Still Inspiring

Ageless Ajanta - Still Inspiring
India’s newest currency note, the largest denomination released since India’s independence, is a brave effort to cleanse India from decades of corruption. The design of this currency note follows the conventional norms of national iconography paying homage to Gandhiji and the Ashokan pillar of the 3rd century BC. The design zooms to the present saluting the Mangalayaan Mars orbiter Mission that has made the nation proud. 

What few know, however, is the inspiration behind the lovely panel of small motifs on the reverse of the currency note. This is the design language of ancient India found in the 3rd century AD Ajanta caves. The carvings and paintings at Ajanta date back to the beginning of classical Indian art. These caves are mesmerizing especially with paintings that take us back in time, all the way to the 2nd century BC through to the 6th century AD. They were accidentally discovered in 1819 by a British cavalryman during a tiger hunt. The sheer force of the stunning paintings and sculptures created a sensation in the world.

Block scan of Kilol of the popular medallion design inspired by the Ajanta Caves

The strength of this ancient design language is unchanged in our changing times. These paintings of the golden geese, lotuses, and elephants are from the ceiling of these caves and what first attracted me to the world of design. These designs have been used on stamps, citations, medals and it is a matter of pride to see this design language still relevant in the intersection of the past and present.

Popular medallion design used by Kilol and directly inspired by the Ajanta Caves