Recommended Temple Tour - Ajanta / Ellora
Aurangabad is the abode to World Heritage Site- the Ajanta and Ellora Caves.
Ajanta and Ellora caves are one of the best examples of architectural finesse of ancient times. These caves are highly decked with ornamental frontages and well-carved intricate interiors. These caves are situated in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Ajanta and Ellora caves are the ancient depot of Indian architectural legacy.
The cave temples were all constructed out of rock, by hand, and stand amidst some of the most excellent specimens of rich Indian culture. Both Ajanta & Ellora caves are an ideal blend of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist’s frescos, paintings and sculptures.
The 29 outstanding caves at Ajanta and 34 caves at Ellora were remained wrapped in darkness for over a millennium, till John Smith, who was the British Army Officer, by coincidence stumbled upon them whilst on a hunting tour in the year 1819. The first glance of the caves gave him an outstanding picture of U-Shaped narrow valley and its captivating natural surroundings. In modern era, these caves are included in the list of World heritage site position to be conserves as an imaginative inheritance for generations to witness.
About Ajanta Caves
Ajanta’s astounding caves are located about 99 kms from Aurangabad district. The caves differ from 35 feet to 110 feet in height. It is deemed that these caves started carving in 2nd century BC and closed in 6th century AD. The Ajanta group of caves was constructed as secluded retreats of Buddhist monks, who performed and taught ceremonies in Viharas and Chaitya grihas.
The Ajanta caves comprise of Monument halls, Chaitya Grihas, Monastries and Viharas. The monasteries in the cave are of various sizes and used by Buddhist monks for studying Buddhist teachings and meditation. They are mainly square-shaped and represent educational, ornamental and scared paintings from Jataka stories and life of Gautam Buddha, slaves, kings, fruits, animals, birds, flower plants and figures of heavenly dancers and musicians. These caves are devoted to Lord Buddha and portray excellent architectural skills. At Ajanta, the wall paintings and carvings illustrate the life stories of Lord Buddha. In addition to this, one can see various types of animal and human figures that are carved out of rocks. One can see paintings all over except on the floor. Most of the caves depict stories of various incarnations of Lord Buddha. Pictures of princesses and fairies are also elaborately illustrated.
The Ajanta caves are divided into many Chaitya-grihas (stupa halls) and viharas (dwelling halls, hollowed out of the leaning rocks in 5th century. The viharas incorporated of a wide verandah that is supported by large pillars. There is also a temple of Gautam Buddha in a position facing the entryway and at times facing the additional shrines to the left or right of the entrance. The Viharas are well-decorated with beautiful paintings on ceilings and walls.
In comparison with the viharas, the Chaityas are large in size. The major attraction of these chaityas is the statures of bodhisattavas that are carved at the entryway of a Chaitya-griha or viharas.
About Ellora Caves : Ellora caves are the excellent example of cave temples with approximately 34 caves with ornamental porticos and convoluted interiors. Carved from a basaltic hill, 30 km from Aurangabad, these caves have become a prime attraction for people since many centuries. From 34 caves, 17 are Hindu, 12 are Buddhist and 5 are Jain caves. Ellora caves are famous for architecture. Cave 10 is a Chaitya hall that is also tagged as ‘Visvakarma’ with Buddha sitting in a stupa. Cave 5 is the largest and impressive one as it has the most stunning three storied viharas called ‘Tin-Tala’. Cave 6 consists of some remarkable figures of Buddha, amid them the Mahamayuri, Analokiteshwara with lotus and other small figures are an excellent expression in rock carvings. Cave no.5 comprises of a big hall, with decked columns, aisles and porches. The cave 11 houses pictures of Buddha, Ganesha, Boddhisattavas and Durga in various forms.
The Kailasa temple in cave 16 is the most popular one and an architectural marvel in itself. This shrine took more than 100 years in completion and festooned with themes from Puranas. The outer side of the holy place is richly carved with pictures of deities, plasters, niches and erotic figures of male and female. The best part that can amaze anyone is that the whole shrine is framed out of a single monolith. Cave 32 and 34 are the most significant Jain caves in Ellora group. The Jain caves are well-proportioned, enormous in size, richly bedecked and mar the last phase of Ellora caves.
Ajanta and Ellora caves in a glance
- Best time to visit- Whole year
- State- Maharashtra
- District- Aurangabad
- Discovered by- John Smith in 1819
- Famous for/as- Historical, Heritage
- Languages- Marathi, Hindi
- Built in- The Ajanta Caves – 200 BC to 650 AD, The Ellora Caves – 350 AD to 700 AD
- Weather- Summer 20 °C to 42°C, winter 10°C to 32°C
Opening hours of Ajanta and Ellora caves
The Ellora caves remain closed on Tuesdays and Ajanta caves are closed on Mondays. 9:00 am to 5:30 pm are the opening hours to visit caves. Bothe caves are open on national holidays.
How To Reach
Air : The closest domestic airport from Ajanta and Ellora caves is positioned in Aurangabad 15 kms and cab reached directly from Jaipur, Mumbai, Udaipur and Delhi.
By Train : Aurangabad is the next railway station on South Central Railway Line that is approximately 30 kms far from Ellora.
By Road : Aurangabad is the main city of Maharashtra; hence, it is well-linked with major roads of India.
Ajanta and Ellora caves are well-known for its exquisite architecture. Every year, Ajanta and Ellora caves receive an extraordinary number of tourists. So, plan an itinerary and explore these mystic, fascinating and interesting caves that will surely transfer you into that ancient era for couple of minutes.