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Ajanta Caves

The district of Aurangabad in Indian state of Maharashtra has Buddhist cave monuments known as Ajanta Caves which was carved out of 300 rock-cut from 2nd century BCE to nearly 650 CE. As per  Government’s Archaeological Survey of India, Ajanta and Ellora Caves are the “finest examples of surviving Indian arts of sculptures and paintings” and are the outstanding pieces of Buddhist spiritual art representing the portraits of Jatak tales and figures of Buddha. According to older legends, the Caves were developed in two stages starting from 2nd century BC along with the second phase of development from 400 to 650 CE. Mr. Walter M. Spinks, a renowned historian, now has recently proposed that the Cave’s building phase was between a short periods of 460 to 480 CE. Ajanta Caves are the protected monuments under the Archaeological survey of India and also a World Heritage Site under UNESCO since 1983.

The site of Ajanta Caves was deeply forested with small hills earlier times and again it was seriously forested when the Caves was deserted. It was rediscovered by a British officer’s group during hunting in 1819. These Caves are the Buddhist monastic structures which include different and diverse colleges or monasteries. The caves are marked 1 to 28 as per their positions starting from the entrée along the path. Some of the caves are incomplete and few are hardly begun and others are little worship places having customary numbering like “9A”. At the time of numbering, the cave 15A was deep concealed under rubbles. After caves, a number of waterfalls from the narrow hill openings are there which were detectable from outside the caves when the river is elevated.

The caves are the biggest example of early Indian wall-paintings which are supposed to be related to the 5th century paintings of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka though the endurance from painting areas of modern India are very little. The intricate architectural carvings of the caves are very exceptional and many figure styled sculptures depend upon local art which is found in close by accessible sites, albeit the Ajanta institution can be traced to the other Hindu sites and in later Ellora Caves.


The unintended discovery of these caves in the early 19th century by a hunting party of British officers was a fortunate thing to ancient India. These paintings and sculptures on Buddha’s life, belong to the rich and ritualistic Mahayana period of Buddhism, are now world famous. The copies of these paintings and sculptures were shown in London in 1866 at the exhibition of Crystal Palace but they were shortly destroyed in a fire there. Soon afterwards, the copies were again published and reproduced in four volumes which were brought out by Ghulam Yazdani, the then Hyderabad State’s director of archaeological department in 1933. Ajanta Caves have emerged since then as an epicenter of interest for each and every lover and student of Indian art and history world over.


Ajanta Caves with all its nearly 30 caves are the tremendous examples of the cave paintings, architectures and sculptures of early Buddhist period. The Ajanta Caves were mostly used by the Buddhist monks for their meditative and residential purposes which include chiefly monasteries and chaitya / prayer halls.

The monks, who used to reside in these caves, used plain and locally available apparatus such as chisel and hammer to carve out the Jatak stories, the images of Buddha and His incarnations on the cave walls. The Chaitya or prayer halls are made in elaborated architectural forms inspired by religious believes. The cave no 17, for example, is full of Jatak stories depicting Lord Buddha in eight rows,  Buddha taming an elephant Nalagiri, Lord Indra flying in the sky along with the attractive dancers and many more comparable Jatak stories. The Ajanta cave paintings also comprise of different designs, geometrical patterns, scrollwork dreams of Buddha’s mother Maya, minuscule seated Buddha, Buddha’s birth scenes and processions of many feminine devotees with diverse gifts for the newborn Buddha.

The Gateway to Ajanta

The gateway to Ajanta is Aurangabad which was named after the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, and is situated on the right side bank of the River Kham. Aurangabad, formerly identified as Khadka, is the third largest city of Maharashtra state after Pune and Mumbai. Aurangabad is an entryway for two world famous rock cut caves – Ellora (30km) and Ajanta (110km) with numerous other tourist’s attraction sites like Bibi Ka Maqbara, Bani Begum Gardens and Museums etc.


By Air

Aurangabad, 110 km from Ajanta caves, is the nearby airport.

By Rail

Jalgaon, 60km from Ajanta Caves, is the nearby central railways line junction which is directly connected to Manmad and Mumbai.

By Road

Ajanta Caves are well connected by maintained roads from Aurangabad (110km), Jalgaon (60km) and Mumbai (400km) by State Transport buses and other private buses / taxis.

Whether and Best Time to Visit

Tourists can visit the world famous Ajanta and Ellora Caves at any time throughout the year but the best visiting time is considered from mid June to March.

  • November to February (winter season) is very pleasant weather in the region with minimum temperature up to 10 °C and considered the perfect visiting time for Ajanta and Ellora.
  • March to May (Summer season) are hot having regular hotness between 38 °C and 22 °C and with the highest temperature reaching to roughly 42 °C.
  • June to September (Monsoon season) offers respite from the scorching weather with rainfalls and greenery. The Caves remain open during this season and considered also a good time for learning about the Caves in details.
  • In the month of October, the climate is generally dry and pleasant which is quite appropriate for visiting the Ajanta and Ellora Caves and to explore the adjacent area too.

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Best Time To Visit Rajasthan 1
Best Time To Visit Rajasthan 2
Best Time To Visit Rajasthan 1
Best Time To Visit Rajasthan 2
Best Time To Visit Rajasthan 1
Best Time To Visit Rajasthan 2

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