The Chaityas are a variant of the Stupas. The Chaitya-hall is a shrine which occupies the alter and serves as place of congregation. Traces of Chaitya halls have been found at Sanchi, Saranath, Sonari etc. After Asoka, Chaityas were excavated in the body of the rocks. The convenient physical structure of the Indian rocks gave a special encouragement to rock-cut architecture and Chaitya-halls were excavated in the rock-cut caves.
The Chaitya-halls in their fully developed from resembled Christian Church. Asoka caused the exaction of Sudama (Nyagrodha) cave for the Ajivikas but it was after his time that rock-cut caves became more common. The rock-cut caves at Barabar hills, the most important of them being the Lomasa Rishi cave, is, however, supposed to have been of the Maurya period. Asoka’s grandson, Dasaratha, also excavated cave dwellings for the monks. The interiors of the caves, “burnished like mirrors are wonderful monuments of patient skill and infinite labor”.