Places to Visit in Ajanta

The tourist attractions in Ajanta are undoubtedly the Ajanta and Ellora (link to Ellora page) caves, located near the city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra and about 300 kilometres northeast of the city of Mumbai. The 34 caves at Ellora and the 29 caves at Ajanta remained in obscurity for over a millennium, till John Smith, a British Army Officer, accidentally stumbled upon them while on a hunting expedition in 1819.

Ajanta and Ellora are protected monument sites under the Archaeological Survey of India and has been included in the World Heritage list of monuments.

Places to See in Ajanta

The Ajanta and Ellora cave

The Ajanta and Ellora cave shrines cut out of rock, by hand, rank amongst the most outstanding historical tourist attractions in India. It is believed that, originally, Buddhist monks sought shelter in these natural grottos during monsoons and began decorating them with religious motifs to help pass the rainy season. Later they taught and performed rituals in these caves, which became their Chaityas (temples) and Viharas (living quarters), the ancient seats of learning, and centers of the Buddhist cultural movement. Using simple tools like hammer and chisel, the monks carved out impressive figures.

These murals and frescoes adorning the walls of these structures depict the story of Buddhism, spanning the period from 200 BC to 650 AD. Many of the caves have panels depicting stories from the Jatakas, a treasure trove of stories about the several incarnations of the Buddha. This makes the Ajanta caves a fascinating spiritual tourist attraction for Buddhists and scholars and researchers of Buddhism.

Cave number 1 houses some of the best-preserved wall paintings here, which include two impressive Bodhisattvas, 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.

Tourist Destinations Near Ajanta

Excursions can be made to Aurangabad which is as famous for its medieval monuments as for its proximity to the famous world heritage sites of Ajanta and Ellora.Aurangabad was an important seat of the Mughal Empire during the Mughal rule in India. Situated on the banks of River Kham, the town holds a number of Mughal architectural marvels making it an important historical destination in Maharashtra.

Last Updated on : January 20, 2014