The Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India are 30 rock-cut cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BCE to the 600 CE. The caves include paintings and sculptures considered to be masterpieces of Buddhist religious art (which depict the Jataka tales) as well as frescos which are reminiscent of the Sigiriya paintings in Sri Lanka. The caves were built in two phases starting around 2nd century BCE, with the second group of caves built around 600 CE. It is a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India.
Similar to the Elephanta Caves, Ajanta Caves are a group of 31 caves situated 104km from the modern Indian city of Aurangabad. The site is now a UNESCO world heritage site and is considered by most people to be the finest specimens of Buddhist sculptures and art.
The caves are supposed to have been built in two phases- the first phase being around 200 BC and the second phase being around 600 AD, although archeologists and scientists vary amongst themselves about the exact time line. The caves depict Jataka Tales, which are also the hallmark of Buddhist ideology.
Highlights and Features
Discovered in 1819, the route to the caves is just as adventurous and adrenaline-inducing as the caves themselves. The caves are located over a horseshoe-shaped ravine rising up to about 250 metres.
While some caves are finished in their full glory, some caves are unfinished and therefore retain a great sense of mystery. Many of the caves contain mural paintings with the most popular works being in the caves 1, 2, 16, 17 and 19.
Good to Know and What not to Miss
The Maharashtra State Tourism Dept. Corporation or MTDC runs special buses to the top of the caves. You are allowed to take pictures, but if you want to take a video camera along you will have to pay for the privilege. Generally, the route upwards takes 15 minutes and a casual traveler will take about two hours to complete a tour of the caves.
- Opening Hours: The caves are closed on Mondays and the daily closing time is 17:00
- Location: Just outside the village of Ajinṭha in Aurangabad district, 104 km from Aurangabad
- Remarks: Aurangabad has the nearest airport.