Maharashtra has some of the most iconic caves in India, these caves are an architectural marvel and are one of the most iconic monuments of India. These caves have religious significance; mainly for Buddhists but also for Hindus and Jains.
One such cave is the Ajanta Caves. It is located in the scenic valley of river Waghur near Aurangabad. The caves are famous for their paintings that date back to 2000 years. It is considered iconic for its mural and sculptural beauty. Ajanta Caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a group of around 30 caves dedicated to Buddhism.
Ajanta Caves - It’s History
The caves were constructed in two distinct phases. The first phase was between the 2nd Century BCE to the 1st Century CE. The second phase was around the 5th century CE. The first phase was dominated by the Hinayana or Theraveda Buddhism, while the Mahayana Buddhism dominated the second phase. The caves fulfiled several religious purposes and were constituted into Chaityas i.e praying halls, and Viharas i.e assembly halls.
The paintings in the caves depict the events from Buddha’s life, his past life and other Buddhist deities. Stylistic paintings of nature and geometrical figures also accompany the narrative murals on the walls.
The Famous Points In Ajanta Caves
The point from where the Ajanta Caves were rediscovered in 1819 is known as the “View Point”. It is where Captain John Smith saw these caves. The Jakarta Tales and Avadana Tales are depicted in Caves No 1, 2, 16 and 17.
Caves No 9 and 10 are the Theravada Chaityas or praying halls. The Chaityagrihas consists of a Stupa that represents Buddha. Caves 19 and 26 are the Chaityagrihas from the Mahayana Buddhist tradition.
Ajanta Caves are located 6 kilometres from Fardapur, 56 kilometres from Jalgaon, 104 kilometres from Aurangabad city and 350 kilometres from Mumbai. It is also 100 kilometres away from Ellora caves.
Weather And Climate
The Aurangabad region's summers are hot and dry, with temperatures reaching up to 40 degrees celsius. The winters are mild, with the average temperatures ranging from 14 to 30 degrees Celsius during day and night. The annual rainfall of Aurangabad is around 726 mm.
The entry fee for Ajanta Caves is ₹10 for Indians and ₹250 for foreign tourists. For still and video cameras, one has to pay ₹25. Children below 15 have free entry.
Things To Do In And Around
There are many things that you can do in and around Ajanta Caves, some of the things you can do are:
Visit the viewpoint and the cave complexes. Explore the Chaityagrihas and the Viharas. The paintings at Ajanta Caves are one of the most iconic ones.
Visit the site museum and exploration centre to know more about the Ajanta Caves.
You can visit archaeological sites like Bibi ka Maqbara, Daulatabad Fort, and Chandikadevi Temple. They are around a 0 - 3 hours drive away from the Ajanta caves.
The Gautala Wildlife Sanctuary is also a great natural site to explore. It is a 2-and-a-half-hour drive away from Ajanta Caves.
Ajanta Caves are one of the most iconic sites to visit in Maharashtra. It is visited by Tourists across India. It is one of the most famous Buddhist Caves in India and Maharashtra. To know more about many sites like these, check out our blogs.