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India >> West >> Maharashtra >> Ajanta Ellora
Ajanta Ellora Maharashtra, West
  Overview   Holiday Ideas 
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The Ajanta Caves are located in the Indian state of Maharashtra, near Jalgaon, just outside the village of Ajintha. Since 1983, the Ajanta Caves have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India and has been listed in the World Heritage list of monuments.

 

For over a millennium the caves remained in obscurity, till a team of British officers accidentally stumbled upon them while on an expedition in the early 19th century. These caves are architectural and historical wonders; Ajanta located amidst dramatic settings is an epicentre of interest for the connoisseurs of Indian history and art.

 Orientation

The remote, ancient and magnificent caves near Aurangabad, astonishingly hand carved from steep rock-face of the hillsides, are those of Ajanta and Ellora. Considered the pride of Maharashtra, these world famous rock-cut caves illustrate fine degree of exquisite artistry and exemplary skill of the Indian artisans during that era.

 

The village of Ajanta in the Sahyadri hills about 100 km from Aurangabad is renowned for the Buddhist caves that dates back to 2nd century BCE to the 600 CE. In a horse-shoe shaped scarp overlooking a gorge are the 29 rock-cut caves, entirely Buddhist in every aspect and well known for their exotic setting, impressive architecture and historic artwork. The caves were built as secluded retreats of the Buddhist monks, who taught and performed rituals in the Chaityas (chapels) and Viharas (monasteries) where they lived.

 

Most of the caves are adorned with magnificent wall paintings and exquisite sculptures considered to be masterpieces of Buddhist religious art, that were done over a great span of time providing a panorama of life in ancient India. Most of the paintings centred around Buddha, Bodhisattvas, incidents from the life of Buddha and the Jatakas. The paintings executed on a ground of mud-plaster in the tempera technique divulge various interesting facts of life ranging from hair styles, ornaments, textiles, musical instruments, details of architecture, customs etc. A new style of Buddhist art evolved from this collection of classical Indian art , which  travelled to parts of the globe with spread of Buddhism. Similar paintings can be seen in Sigiriya in Sri Lanka, Bamiyan in Afghanistan, temples and shrines in Tibet, Nepal, China and Japan.

 

Ajanta carved from a steeper face of the horseshoe gorge is located at much more dramatic settings. A monsoon always doubles its charm by adding hues of brilliant green to the foliage and few pretty waterfalls. It's worth the effort to walk away from the cave for a spectacular view of gorge, its splendid surroundings and the ingenuous water cistern system definitely the source of water supply. Ajanta must have been the centre of considerable activity as it was on the ancient trade route leading to the coast. There are no records pertaining to the what life was like in those days, making it rather fascinating for the visitors to interpret and conjure a vision of their own, this perhaps is yet another secret charm of Ajanta.

 

Ellora, about 26 km north of Aurangabad famous is for the 350 AD to 700 AD cave temples. The caves 34 in number are excavated out of the vertical face of a basaltic hill, extending in a linear arrangement. The architecture with elaborate facades and exquisitely adorned interiors depicts the faiths of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism - wonderful example of religious co-existence within a confined area. Some of the caves have Buddhist Chaityas (halls of worship) and Viharas (monasteries), a few are fine specimen of Buddhist and Hindu fusion housing images of both the faiths under one roof, while the remaining are Hindu and Jain temples. The Kailasa temple is an architectural wonder. This mountain abode of Lord Shiva, is the largest monolithic structure in the world.

 

Grineshwasr, one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India, is near Ellora.

 Getting there

Location & Distance

Ajanta is 106 km northeast of Aurangabad and Ellora is 30 km northwest of Aurangabad.

 Fast Facts
Name Ajanta Ellora Best Time To Visit October to May
Location Maharashtra   West   India   Destination  
Open From 0000-00-00  To 0000-00-00 Type Historical City
Temperature Summar   32-37C      Winter   18-22C      Rainy   28-32C
 Map
 
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