Weather :

Label : Top Attraction

Tags : Cave

Timings : 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM (Tuesday-Sunday), Closed on Mondays

Time Required : 2-3 hours to explore. Another 2-3 hours to reach from Aurangabad or Jalgaon (one-way).

Entry Fee : Indians: INR 10, Foreigners: INR 250, Camera: INR 25

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"UNESCO World Heritage Ancient Buddhist Caves"

Ajanta Caves, Ajanta and Ellora Caves Overview

Located around 99 km from the town of Aurangabad, lie the Ajanta Caves now included in the list of UNESCO World heritage Sites. Ajanta caves depict the Buddhist culture and their stories through various sculptures and paintings. It also takes you to the world of Jatakas.

The Ajanta caves is a set of 3rock-cutut Buddhist caves that date back to the period between 2nd century BC and 650 CE. The Ajanta caves are considered one of the most prestigious monuments of India as they house many beautiful paintings and sculptures depicting the rich cultural heritage of India. Naturally used as a retreat by the Buddhist monks, the cave depicts the serenity of Buddhism through its simple yet breathtaking sculpture. The basic designs of the caves are called 'Chaityagrihas' & 'viharas'. Figurines of Lord Buddha and scenes from the traditional Jataka tales are the mainstays of this place. The area used to be heavily forested and the caves fell out of social conscience before being rediscovered by a British hunting officer in 1819.

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History of Ajanta caves

Ajanta caves are essentially Buddhist monasteries of the bygone era. It is a place where Buddhist monks lived, studied and prayed. The Ajanta caves were first found by a few British soldiers in the 19th century when they were out hunting and one of them happened to lay his eyes on a cave covered with bushes, leaves and stones. The soldiers made their way into the cave and found many caves with such history in them. They informed the Government and ever since Ajanta caves are being excavated and studied to this day. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983. The caves have been built in two phases: Satvahana followed by Vakataka period named so after the ruling dynasty. The first phase lasted from 100B CE to 100 CE, when the sanctuaries were built in the canyons of the Waghora river and called Chaitya-griha. Caves 9, 10, 12, 15A are from this period. During the second phase, around 20 cave temples were built which resemble modern day monasteries with a sanctum in the rear end of the cave.

Architecture of Ajanta caves

The walls and ceilings of the famous Ajanta caves are chiselled, carved and painted with the life and teachings of Lord Buddha. There is a total of 30 caves that bring to your notice the talent of the people and their dedication to preserving the past in the form of a never fading art. The Ajanta caves consist of caves dedicated to both Hinayana and Mahayana sect. The Ajanta caves consist of 24 Buddhist Viharas and 5 Hindu temples. Cave 1, 2, 4, 16, 17 are considered the most beautiful and the famous statue of the reclining Buddha is located in cave 26. The Viharas (hall of the prayer of the monks) are of different sizes that consist of a pillared verandah in front, from which doors and windows lead into the main hall. The side walls of the hall have doors for the monks to enter their cells. In the center of the main wall is a door that leads us to a room with a huge rock cut sculpture of Lord Buddha. The paintings on the walls of the Ajanta caves mainly adopt the theme of Jataka tales, the stories with morals that we read as kids. Every single painting has a story attached to it and the paints used are both rare and made from very expensive and imported materials. The artists and craftsmen of those times did not leave any detail to imagination making them all look very life like.

Best Time To Visit Ajanta Caves

The months of June to March are considered good time to visit the Ajanta caves. While the winter season (November to February) is the best time to visit the caves, the monsoon season (from June to September) is also a good time as the temperature cools down due to rains. Avoid the summers (April to June) as the temperature touches 40 degrees frequently and it could be too hot to explore the caves.

How To Reach Ajanta Caves

Ajanta Caves is situated around 113 km north of Aurangabad and 50 kms from Jalgaon. The nearest airport is in Jalgaon (50 km) and is linked to Mumbai and Ahmedabad. The best-connected airport is in Aurangabad (100 km) and is linked to Delhi, Udaipur, Jaipur and Mumbai.

The best way to reach the caves from the airport is in a private car or taxi. It would take around 2 and half hours by car and around 3 hours by bus to reach the Ajanta Caves from Aurangabad. However, if you want to use public transport, you can commute using local buses.

The bus to Ajanta Caves can be taken from the Aurangabad Central Bus Station located on Aurangabad Road. This bus ride will be roughly 3 hours long, so be prepared and pack some snacks as well. The bus will drop you at Ajanta Caves Road Entrance where some shops and restaurants are present for tourists. From there, you can take another bus to the entrance of the main caves which would hardly take 10 minutes. Beware that these are local buses and can be slightly rough for a lot of tourists.

Aurangabad is directly linked to Mumbai and Pune by the Tapovan Express and Devgiri Express. Ajanta is also well-connected by road to Mumbai, Pune and other cities of Maharashtra.

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