Attractions in Ajanta 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
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
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.
- 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
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.
There & Away
||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.
directly linked to Mumbai and Pune. Jalgaon,
a railhead on the Central Railways line, is
59 kilometres from Ajanta.
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.