Ajanta and Ellora Caves are the ancient repository of Indian architectural heritage. Located near the city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra Ajanta and Ellora caves are the world famous for the cave shrines that cut out of rock, all by hand. There are 34 caves at Ellora and 29 caves at Ajanta. And all are sheer outstanding specimens of Indian architectural excellence.
Ajanta and Ellora caves were shrouded in ignominy for over a
millennium, till John Smith, a British Army Officer stumbled upon them
while on a hunting expedition in 1819. Today Ajanta and Ellora caves
have been honored the world heritage site status to be preserved as an
artistic legacy for generations to witness.
Ajanta caves lie deep in the semi-arid Sahayadri hills, above the
Waghora River. Discovered only in the 19th century and since then
brought to the world's light, Ajanta caves have panels depicting tales
from the Jatakas, a rich collection of stories dealing with several
reincarnations of the Budhha. Numbering as many as 29 caves, Ajanta
caves were built as secluded retreats of the Buddhist monks. These monks
taught and performed rituals in the Chaityas and Viharas.
Built using simple tools such as hammer and chisel, these caves houses
some of the most well preserved wall paintings including that of two
great Boddhisattvas, Padmapani and Avalokiteshvara. These caves have
some of the most divine sculptures and images of Budhha preaching. One
can have a first hand info on the overall development of Buddhism,
observing these caves.
With 34 caves devoted to Buddhist, Jain and Hindu faiths, Ellora Caves
have an amazing wealth of sculpture. About 30 kms northwest of
Aurangabad, Ellora caves are caved into the sides of a basaltic hill. As
the finest specimens of cave temples, Ellora caves have elaborate
facades and intricately aesthetic interiors to hypnotize your
sensibilities. Carved during the 350AD to 700AD period, Ellora caves
have 12 caves to the south that are Buddhist, the 17 in the centre
dedicated to Hinduism, and the 5 caves to the north are Jain.
The sculptures in the Buddhist caves depict the nobility, grace and
serenity that are inherent in the Buddha. The sculpture in the Buddhist
caves accurately convey the nobility, grace and serenity inherent in the
Buddha.Most of the caves are Viharas or Monastery halls used by the
monks for study, solitary meditation and worship.
The Kailasha temple in Cave 16 is an architectural wonder carved out of
a monolith, has the gateway, pavilion, assembly hall, sanctum and tower,
all chiseled out of a single rock. The Dumar Lena cave resembles the
famous cave - temple at Elephanta, and is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The Jain caves about a mile away from the Kailasa temple have grand
statues of Parasvanath and other Jain Tirthankaras and a seated figure
of meditating Mahavira.
How to Reach Ajanta & Ellora
Ajanta Caves and Ellora Caves are about 99 Kms and 30 kms away from
Aurangabad respectively. Aurangabad is directly linked to Delhi,
Udaipur, Jaipur and Mumbai.
Aurangabad is directly connected to Mumbai and Pune. Jalgaon, a
railhead on the Central Railways line, is 59 km from Ajanta. You can
board train to reach Aurangabad and accordingly get in taxis and tourist
coaches to reach Ajanta and Ellora Caves.
There are regular state buses that run from Mumbai, Pune, Ahmednagar,
Jalgaon, Shirdi, Nasik, Dhule, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Indore and Bijapur
to Aurangabad, and from Jalgaon to Ajanta. Maharashtra Tourism
Development Corporation (M T D C) operates conducted tours from Mumbai
Ajanta Ellora Caves
|Era||The Ajanta Caves - 200BC to 650AD, the Ellora Caves - 350AD to 700AD|
|Faiths||Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism|
|Festival||Ellora Festival of Classical Dance and Music in 3rd week of March|
|Attraction||Cave shrines cut out of rocks|
|Time||Anytime of the year|