5 Ajanta Caves Paintings You Need To See

The Ajanta caves, a Buddhist cave complex in the state of Maharashtra, India, are a sequence of 29 caves dating back to 2nd century B.C.E. till 650 C.E. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Ajanta is a horseshoe-shaped cave around the Waghur river. Built with only hammer and chisel, the Ajanta caves are known for its stunning murals, paintings and sculptures, most of them depicting the day to day life of Buddha.

Being one of the top tourist spots of Maharashtra, the Ajanta cave paintings and the caves themselves have seen some decay over the years because of tourist invasion and some maintenance problems. However, the paintings from ancient times, made using different materials like cow dung and clay, painted in different colours like brown, yellow, black and white using many different techniques, makes this site a perfect place to relive history. The Ajanta cave paintings were done using a technique called Tempera. Most of the paintings tell stories of the Jataka tales involving the stages of becoming a Buddha and the life of Buddha.

Here are five pictures of Ajanta Cave paintings for you to admire before you plan your trip:

1. Bodhisattva Padmapani 

A painting in cave number 1 of Ajanta caves, this is Buddha’s former existence portrayed as a painting. Cave number 1 of Ajanta caves is known for some of the most elaborate carvings and sculptures from the life of Gautam Buddha.

Bodhisattva Padmapanu (Source)

2. King Janaka & Wife

This is a painting of King Janaka of Videha sitting in the palace with his wife. He is seen to be talking to her and discussing why he wants to renounce his worldly life, live a life of solitude and lead to salvation.

King Janaka
King Janaka with his Wife (Source)

3. The Painting of Persian Ambassador

A ceiling painting in cave number 1 of Ajanta caves, this one doesn’t talk about any particular religious story but is a general decorative motif that explains the importance of Persian culture in ancient India. The painting portrays a white-skinned Persian ambassador surrounded by dark-skinned native people.

Persian ambassador
Ceiling Painting (Source)

4. Buddha Paintings

With intricately beautiful paintings on the doorways, this painting in cave number 6 of Ajanta caves depicts different events in Buddha’s life. This double storey cave was used as a home to monks, even when it was incomplete and not entirely built. There is also a Buddha figure seated in this cave.

Doorway painting
Doorway Paintings (Source)

5. Doorway Painting

One of the many doorway paintings in Ajanta caves, this one depicts scenes from kings and communities enjoying each others company eating and drinking wine in merriment.

doorway painting
Decayed Doorway Painting (Source)

These manually excavated caves have survived over 2,000 years now, and the paintings, murals and sculptures can still take you back in wonder. A haven for history buffs, photographers, architecture students, and tourists in general, the Ajanta caves are a perfect destination for one to understand and indulge in Indian art and culture.

This post was published by Meha Dedhia

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