Ajanta and Ellora Caves

Ajanta and Ellora Caves

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Kailash temple

Since the re-discovery of the Ajanta caves in 1819 by John Smith, Ajanta-Ellora Caves stand as the most significant symbol of Indian Art and Culture. They are the iconic rock-cut Caves of India; whose mystery is still unsolved.

Many believe Ellora Caves to be the work of Aliens because of the unique rock cutting concept. The caves stand as the marvel work of the ancient artists, still unfolding new mysteries.

Both the sites (Ajanta and Ellora Caves) have been declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site. They witness million of tourists and pilgrims every year. Though both the caves have endured weathering over a large period of time, their beauties are still incomparable.

Brief on the Ellora Caves:

The world Heritage site of the Ellora Caves are situated about 35Km distance from Aurangabad. Ellora is the wonder structure consisting of 34 caves, dug out of Deccan Trap basaltic Rocks. These Caves were built around 6th – 11th century AD, featuring artwork and sculptures belonging to Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism.

The Kailasha temple, the main attraction of Ellora, is the real mystery here. This is the largest single monolithic rock curved temple in the world. Isn’t this a true wonder? This temple is built in the form of a chariot and hosts the temple of almighty Lord Shiva. The entire temple complex is designed with exceptional chisel work. This is situated right at the entrance and it is temple No. 16.

 Aerial view of Kailash temple
Aerial view of Kailash temple Credit : Bipul Das

The Buddhist temples extend further to the right of Kailasha temple. They are still considered as grounds of meditation amongst the Buddhist pilgrims. But that’s not all you expect here. Cave no. 10, the Vishwakarma Cave, has its own form of art. It is believed to be a carpenter’s wonder. The beams of the Chaitya Hall are curved such that they give the cave an appearance of having a wooden ceiling.

Cave no. 1 to 12 belong to the Buddhists segment. From Cave 13 to 29 is the Hindu segment. The Jain Caves, or Cave no. 30 – 34 are situated a bit far away.

When you visit the Ellora Caves:

If you are planning to visit the Ajanta Ellora Caves anytime soon, you might to have clarity on few facts-

  • Ellora Temples are likely to take a minimum of about 4 to 5 hours if you are a true art fan. Of course, you can give more time.
  • Ellora Temples are best if visited during winters. The temperature remains bearable. Traveling to Ellora can be tiresome since you don’t get much shade here.
  • Ellora unveils its beauty during monsoon. So, if you are fine with the humidity then the greenery is waiting for you there along with an art.
  • You get hire Government guides right at the gate of Ellora. Hire an official guide to get the best brief on the structure of the Temple. The art concept can be really interesting.
  • The Jain temples being far away, up in the mountains, people tend to miss them out after the hectic climbs across the other temples. Don’t miss it.
  • An internal bus runs up to the Jain Temples. This one departs every 15 minutes, right in front of the Kailasha Temple’s gate. This is not a free ride. They charge per way basis.

Entry Fees in Ellora Caves:

While entering the Ellora Caves Indian Nationals need to pay a nominal entry fee of Rs. 40 per ticket. Kids below 5 years are considered free for entrance. The fee is Rs. 250 for Foreign Nationals. You pay separately for Rs. 50 for your digital Cameras.

Another interesting fact, that even guides fail to mention, the Jain Temples are not the only abode of sculptures, but also are witness ancient Murals dating back to 6 BC.

Unlike the Ajanta Caves, these wall paintings haven’t lost much of their vigor. Being present in the darkest corners of temple No. 32 and 33, the luster of these paintings is maintained well. These corners don’t have lighting facilities.

The Jain temples are double storied. You can find the murals across the hallway, facing the idols inside. This hallway also serves as the spot of Vipassana for many foreign tourists.

So, if you are visiting the Ellora Caves, don’t forgetto get mild torches. These painting are never visible in dark.

Tips to remember for Ellora tours:

  • Carry enough water
  • Travel in comfortable shoes. Ellora involves lot of walking and some climbing, if you are interested in visiting the top floors of double storied monuments.
  • Bring torches
  • Hire a guide
  • Food items are not allowed inside, but you can buy some from vendors inside.

Brief on Ajanta Caves:

Built over 2 different time period, from 2nd to 1st BC and then again from 4th to 6th AD, the Ajanta Caves stand as the true example of Ancient Indian Art. Ajanta Caves are situated about 110Km from Aurangabad and 60Km from Jalgaon.

Panoramica view of ajanta caves
Panoramica view of ajanta caves Credit : Bipul Das

There are total 29 caves here in Ajanta. Though the treasures of Ajanta, the murals and frescos, are almost exhausted from majority of the Ajanta Caves, yet the it remains home to million touriststhroughout the year.

The caves, built along River Waghur’s U-shaped Gorge, depict the tales of Jataka. The majority of the caves are the built-in shape of Vihara halls. The structures, however, have changed over the Hinayana or Mahayana period.

The major collection of frescos that are still preserved here in Ajanta are inside Cave No. 1 and 2. Here you learn the tales of Sibi Jataka, Chhaddanta Jataka, Padmapani and Bajrapani Jataka, etc. The murals are preserved best.

Cave painting of avalokiteshwar padmapani
cave painting of avalokiteshwar padmapani Credit : Bipul Das

Cave 2

It is a combination of both rock curvatures and murals. The theme here is focused on the feminine side of society. The artwork in both caves is not restricted to the walls. The frescos are extended up to the ceiling and even at the gates.

As you move along you come to the great pillars of cave 4, followed by the unfinished Cave 5 and then the double storied Cave 6. Learn the legends here in Cave 6 and admire the art form “Miracle of Sravasti”

Move forward and explore more. The chaitya of Cave 10 and painting on the pillars here are extraordinary.

Climb up the stairs to visit Cave 19- 26. These are Mahayana period Caves. Don’t miss out on the art depiction of Lord Buddha’s Mahaparinirvana or the Reclining form of Buddha in Cave 26.

Reclyning buddha sculpture in Cave 26 of Ajanta
Buddha sculpture in Cave 26 of Ajanta Credit : Bipul Das

Visiting Ajanta Caves:

Firstly, if you want to visit Ajanta Caves, start little early. Though it is possible to visit the caves from Aurangabad, it is suggested not to do as a day excursion. The journey is tiresome because of the precarious road conditions, moreover, Ajanta caves invoice extensive walking. This walking zone is in fact devoid of shades.

The best way to do the trip is to stay overnight at Ajanta. Unfortunately, there aren’t much accommodation option here. So, if you have to stay, the best hotel near the Caves will be Ajanta T Junction MTD hotels.

The accommodation here is fantastic and very near to bus stop for Ajanta cave buses. But accommodation limited here. Only 8 rooms are there in this hotel. So, book in advance if you are coming on a peak season, i.e. the winters.

Private cars are not allowed up the mountain, taking the Ajanta shuttle from bus stop is your only option to visit the caves.

Like mentioned before, you need to start early here. If you are an art lover, you are likely to take around 6 to 7 hours to go through all the caves in details. Plan your day accordingly.

Entry Fees for Ajanta Caves:

When you visit Ajanta Caves, you pay an entry fee of Rs. 50 per adult and for children below 5 years, the entrance is free. The fees go up to Rs. 250 per Foreign National.

Points to remember when visiting Ajanta Caves:

  • First and foremost, when photographing inside the caves, be cautious and avoid using flashlight or any kind of bright light. Lights are harmful for murals.
  • Carry water, shades and eat well before your start. The journey will be long and will call for long and steep walk across the gorge under scorching sun.
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • You need take off your shoes while entering certain caves with idols of Lord Buddha. Wear shoes that can be removed effortlessly.
  • Beware of monkeys. They don’t harm but they might share your food.
  • Remember no video recording is allowed inside the Caves.

How to travel to Ajanta and Ellora?

Ajanta Ellora Caves get visitors round the year from different parts of the world. The main hub to begin the tour would be Mumbai, followed by a drive or train ride to Aurangabad.

If you are not a Mumbai resident, then you might want to take a flight here. It’s a minimum of 7 hours’ journey from Mumbai to Aurangabad. So, if you are taking a train, its suggested to go for an overnight one to save time. If you hire a car from Mumbai, then is 8- 9 hours’ drive.

While you stay at Aurangabad, you might want to spend 2 nights there and explore more than just Ellora Caves. Aurangabad has lot more history to offer.

Its advisable to drive to Ajanta from Aurangabad or take a local bus. Stay overnight at the T Junction hotel and visit Ajanta next day.

You can straight away drive from Ajanta caves to Jalgaon station for next train to Nagpur or drive back to Aurangabad for train to Mumbai. No matter which option you choose you will have to spend a night in train or bus to reach a hub with airport.

Things to see around the Caves:

No wonder Ajanta and Ellora Caves are beauty and wonder. But don’t you want to explore more when you visit a new place?

Maharashtra has lot more to offer around the two caves that can be planned with your vacation to the Caves –

  1. Daulatabad Fort:Though mostly ruins, the Daulatabad or Devagiri fort stand as the most Iconic monument of Aurangabad’s history. The walls of the fort stand high till date as the proof of the strong protection it served to the Yadavas and then in the brief Tughlaq era.
  • Pani Chakki: This water mill is located well within the city of Aurangabad. Build in 1695, Pani Chakki holds its own historic significance.
  • Bibi-ka-Maqbarra: This Replica of the World wonder Taj Mahal, was built by Aurangzeb. Though, not as beautiful as the Taj, this Tomb hold strong historic values.
  • Aurangabad Caves: These are less popular for tourists. These are Buddhist caves with less preserved carvings. No wonder it lost its significance beside the Ellora Caves.

Do you have few more days in hand to explore in your vacation? Since you are already visiting the famous Ellora and Ajanta Caves, why not check out the famous Nasik Caves?

The Nasik Caves or as commonly called, Pandav Leni, are caves that date back to 1st century BC. Though not as beautiful as the Ajanta Caves, yet these Jain caves are important for the history of India.

Scenic beauty around the caves:

Ajanta Caves are located in the secluded center of a Gorge. Moreover, this place is not much habituated. No wonder, natural beauty around Ajanta is in abundance.

For bird watchers this can be a paradise if you are staying in Ajanta.

If you have time to extend your vacation, you might to go little beyond and stay a night at the Lonar Crater. The Lonar Lake dates back to Pleistocene Era and was created by collision of an asteroid. The lake here being alkaline provides ideal abode to many birds.

Lonar unfolds its beauty during and after the monsoons. Enjoy the natural beauty here along with a romantic sunset and hear the peacocks call. If you are interested in more history then pay visit to the famous Daityasudan temple in the Lonar area. Be amazed with the unparallel architecture and carvings here.

To spice up your journey experience, you might just visit the vineyards in the Nasik area. Of course, this is only possible if you are travelling with a car and happen to touch Nasik for the Pandav Leni Caves.

Food Culture at Ajanta and Ellora Caves:

Unfortunately, Ajanta and Ellora Cave areas don’t have much food options to offer. Ajanta area is mostly vegetarian. So, if you are into non-vegetarian food, you might have look around and order in advance. Food joints near Ellora are again vegetarian. But you can get different delicacies in Aurangabad.

To try some Gourmet delight you need to visit the Vineyards. Enjoy delicious meal as you sip their wonder collection and enjoy the nature.

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Hey there, welcome at Wild Advanture. I create this beautiful site to share every aspect of blog related to Travel and Occasion. I will cover all the places that can be discovered in the upcoming time. so stay tuned and enjoy the freedom of fly.

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  1. Katalog Stron

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