Cave 1 was built on the eastern end of the horse shoe shaped scarp, and is now the first cave the visitor encounters. This would when first made have been a less prominent position, right at the end of the row. According to Spink, it is one of the latest caves to have been excavated, when the best sites had been taken, and was never fully inaugurated for worship by the dedication of the Buddha image in the central shrine. This is shown by the absence of sooty deposits from butter lamps on the base of the shrine image, and the lack of damage to the paintings that would have been happened if the garland hooks around the shrine had been in use for any period of time. Although there is no epigraphic evidence, Spink believes that the Vaka?aka Emperor Harishena was the benefactor of the work, and this is reflected in the emphasis on imagery of royalty in the cave, with those Jakata tales being selected that tell of those previous lives of the Buddha in which he was royal.
The cliff has a more steep slope here than at other caves, so to achieve a tall grand facade it was necessary to cut far back into the slope, giving a large courtyard in front of the facade. There was originally a columned portico in front of the present facade, which can be seen half intact in the 1880s in pictures of the site, but this fell down completely and the remains, despite containing fine carving, were carelessly thrown down the slope into the river, from where they have been lost, presumably carried away in monsoon torrents.
This cave has one of the most elaborate carved fa