Attractions in Ajanta Ellora

Ellora Caves

Ellora - The Ellora caves, 34 in number, are carved into the sides of a basaltic hill, 30 kms from Aurangabad. The finest specimens of cave - temple architecture, they house detailed facades and exquisitely adorned interiors. These structures representing the three faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, were carved during the 350 AD to 700 AD period. The 12 caves to the south are Buddhist, the 17 in the centre dedicated to Hinduism, and the 5 caves to the north are Jain.

The  celebrated  group  of  cave-temples  at Ellora is located twenty-six

kilometers north of Aurangabad. The monuments are abandoned out of the vertical face of the Khultabad escarpment of face westwards towards the deccan plains. Despite a strictly linear arrangement, the dramatic focus of the site is undoubtedly the magnificent achievement of cave 16, the famous Kailasa. (The largest Monolithic structure in the world).

Unlike other rock-cut sites in the western Deccan, such as Ajanta and Pitalkhora, Ellora was never rediscovered. Ever since the first European visitors in the eighteenth century, Ellora has attracted historians, antiquarians, scholars, and in the more recent years an ever increasing number of tourists. The Ellora monuments span for a period of about three hundred and fifty years from the sixth to the tenth centuries AD.

Influenced by the practice at other rock cut locales in the western Deccan together with structural activity at sites further to the south, including the Pallava temples in southern zone and the Chalukya temples in the Kannada zone, Ellora's architecture preserves a broad range of typologies and techniques.

The Ellora cave-temples are not of interest for their architecture alone. The sculptural masterpieces with which they are adorned are among the finest examples from the Chalukya, Kalachuri and Rashtrakuta periods.

Ajanta - It was only in the 19th century that the Ajanta group of caves, lying deep within the Sahyadri hills of Maharashtra and cut into the curved mountainside above the Waghora river, were discovered. They depict the story of Buddhism, spanning the period from 200 BC to 650 AD.

The 29 caves were built as private sanctuaries for Buddhist monks who taught and performed rituals in the Chaityas and Viharas, the ancient seats of learning and the hub of the Buddhist cultural movement. Using

Painting on walls of ajanta
simple tools like hammers and chisels, the monks carved out the striking figures adorning the walls of these structures. Delicate wall-paintings and sculptures speak volumes of the India of yore. Many of the caves have sections depicting stories from the Jatakas, a treasure trove of stories about the several incarnations of the Buddha. Images of nymphs and princesses, among others, are also richly portrayed.

Cave number 1 houses some of the best-preserved wall paintings here, including two impressive Boddhisattvas, Padmapani and Avalokiteshvara. Caves 2, 16, and 17 also contain amazing paintings, while caves 1, 4, 17, 19, 24, and 26 boast of some of the most divine sculptures. The flying Apsara painting in Cave 17, and the image of the Buddha preaching, also in cave 17, are two unforgettable works of art in Ajanta. The Ajanta caves and the treasures they house are a landmark in the overall development of Buddhism in India and in general.

Events in Ajanta and Ellora

Every year in the third week of March, the Ellora Festival of Classical Dance and Music is organized at the caves. Against the dramatic backdrop of the Ellora Caves, flanked by hundreds of sculptural and architectural splendors, is the Ellora Festival of Classical Dance and Music. Usually held in March, this festival showcases the best talents and is a unique and charming way to experience the magnificent caves, imbibing centuries of history and culture.

This Festival is organised by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) where India's renowned artists display their geniuses in music and dance. Surrounded by 1,400-year old caves and rock carvings, artists perform in this magnificent setting to enchant the gods, goddesses and human lovers of art. The Kailasa temple, sculptured out of one huge rock, is one of the most beautiful backdrops for an event such as this.

Getting There & Away

Airline Flights to Ajanta and Ellora Aurangabad (99 kilometres from Ajanta and 30 km from Ellora) is the ideal base to visit Ajanta and Ellora, since it is directly linked to Delhi, Udaipur, Jaipur, and Mumbai.
Trains to Ajanta and Ellora
Aurangabad, directly linked to Mumbai and Pune. Jalgaon, a railhead on the Central Railways line, is 59 kilometres from Ajanta.
Car Bus Service to Ajanta and Ellora
The excellent road network in Maharashtra links the caves of Ajanta and Ellora with Mumbai, Pune, Ahmednagar, Jalgaon, Shirdi, Nasik, Dhule, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Indore, Bijapur, and Aurangabad.
                                  Trains Bus Cars to Ajanta and Ellora

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