Ajanta & Ellora Caves

General Information About Ajanta & Ellora Caves:

  • Location: Aurangabad, Maharashtra – From Aurangabad Ajanta -100 km, Ellora – 30 km
  • Built In: The Ajanta Caves – 200BC to 650AD, the Ellora Caves – 350AD to 700AD
  • Discovered By : Ajanta and Ellora caves discovered by John Smith in 1819
  • Acclaimed as: World Heritage Site
  • Faiths: Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism
  • Festival: Ellora Festival of Classical Dance and Music in 3rd week of March
  • Attraction: Cave shrines cut out of rocks,Kailasa Temple, Buddha’s Statues, Paintings
  • Time: Anytime of the year
  • Ajanta and Ellora Caves Opening Hours:9:00 am until sunset (around 5.30 p.m.). The Ajanta caves are closed on Mondays, and the Ellora caves are closed on Tuesdays. Both caves are open on national holidays.
  • Ajanta and Ellora Caves Fees:Admission for foreigners is $US10 for the Ajanta caves. The Ellora caves are free to enter except for the magnificent open air Kailasa temple which charges $US 5. Children younger than 15 years are free at both places.

More About Ajanta & Ellora Caves:

Located near the city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra, the famous Ajanta and Ellora are cave shrines cut out of rock, by hand, and rank amongst some of the most outstanding specimens of ancient Ajanta CavesIndian architectural heritage. The 34 caves at Ellora and the 29 caves at Ajanta, were remained shrouded 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 has been designated as a World Heritage Site, to be preserved as an artistic legacy that will come to inspire and enrich the lives of generations to come.Ajanta and Ellora Caves are the ancient repository of Indian architectural heritage. Located near the city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra Ajanta and Ellora caves are the world famous for the cave shrines that cut out of rock, all by hand. There are 34 caves at Ellora and 29 caves at Ajanta. And all are sheer outstanding specimens of Indian architectural excellence.

Detail Information About Ajanta Caves:

These caves are regarded as a world heritage site and were carved out from the 2nd century BC to 6th century AD. They are placed in a horseshoe shape about 3.5 m away from the village. It was only in the 19th century, that the Ajanta group of caves, lying deep within the Sahyadri hills, cut into the curved mountain side, above the Waghora river, were discovered. They depict the story of Buddhism, spanning a period from 200 BC to 650 AD.The intriguing Ajanta Caves are carved out of large rocks and are 30 in number. These caves are dedicated to Lord Buddha.Ajanta caves lie deep in the semi-arid Sahayadri hills, above the Waghora River. Discovered only in the 19th century and since then brought to the world’s light, Ajanta caves have panels depicting tales from the Jatakas, a rich collection of stories dealing with several reincarnations of the Budhha.There are thirty caves in total, out of which five are prayer halls (Chaitya) and others are monasteries (Vihara). Here, one can see a distinctive amalgamation of architecture, sculpture and paintings. Built between 2nd and- 4th century, Ajanta Caves depict two phases of architecture, where one is Hinayana phase and the other is Mahayana phase.The famous Ajanta caves are situated about 99-kms away from Aurangabad district in the state of Maharashtra. The 29 caves were built as secluded retreats of the Buddhist monks, who taught and performed rituals in the Chaityas and Viharas, the ancient seats of learning, and nerve – centers of the Buddhist cultural movement. Using simple tools like hammer and chisel, the monks carved out the impressive figures adorning the walls of these structures. Many of the caves house panels depicting stories from the Jatakas, a rich mine of tales of the several incarnations of the Buddha. Images of nymphs and princesses amongst others, are also elaborately portrayed.The carvings and the murals in the Ajanta depicted the contemporary society of that period. In 1819, some British Army officers came across Ajanta Caves when they were on a tiger hunt. Once the monsoon retreats of Buddhist monks, these caves are constructed in an extremely detailed manner.Numbering as many as 29 caves, Ajanta caves were built as secluded retreats of the Buddhist monks. These monks taught and performed rituals in the Chaityas and Viharas. Built using simple tools such as hammer and chisel, these caves houses some of the most well preserved wall paintings including that of two great Boddhisattvas, Padmapani and Avalokiteshvara. These caves have some of the most divine sculptures and images of Budhha preaching. One can have a first hand info on the overall development of Buddhism, observing these caves.These artistic pieces showed all kinds of people from kings to slaves, women, men and children interwoven with flowers, plants, fruits, birds and beasts. There are also figures related to the people of that time, some of them are ‘Yakshas’, ‘Kinneras’ (half human and half bird) ‘Gandharvas’ (divine musicians) and ‘Apsaras’ (heavenly dancers).

Detail Information About Ellora Caves:

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 elaborate 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 famous Ellora caves are located in the lap of the Chamadari hills. These historical caves are regarded as world heritage and are situated 18 miles northwest of Aurangabad. 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 sculpture in the Buddhist caves accurately convey the nobility, grace and serenity inherent in the Buddha. Caves 6 and 10 house images from the Buddhist and Hindu faith, under the same roof, the latter dedicated to Vishwakarma, the patron saint of Indian craftsmen. With 34 caves devoted to Buddhist, Jain and Hindu faiths, Ellora Caves have an amazing wealth of sculpture. About 30 kms northwest of Aurangabad, Ellora caves are caved into the sides of a basaltic hill. The Kailasha temple in Cave 16 is an architectural wonder carved out of a monolith, has the gateway, pavilion, assembly hall, sanctum and tower, all chiseled out of a single rock. The Dumar Lena cave resembles the famous cave – temple at Elephanta, and is dedicated to Lord Shiva.As the finest specimens of cave temples, Ellora caves have elaborate facades and intricately aesthetic interiors to hypnotize your sensibilities.The Vishvakarma cave is both a Chaitya and a Vihara, with a seated Buddha placed in the stupa. The exquisite carvings and paintings found in Ellora are its major highlights. These carvings have marks of Hindu, Jain and Buddhsim expressions.Built by the Rashtrakuta Dynasty, Ellora Caves present the quintessence of Indian rock-cut architecture. These are 35 cave structures, including Buddhist monasteries, Hindu and Jain Temples, which were excavated out of the Charanandri Hills. Built between the 5th and 10th century, there are twelve Buddhist caves (caves 1-12), seventeen Hindu (caves 13-29) and five Jain caves (caves 30-34) in Ellora. All these caves face the west direction. The exquisite architecture of these caves is worth taking a glimpse.The Jain caves about a mile away from the Kailasa temple have grand statues of Parasvanath and other Jain Tirthankaras and a seated figure of meditating Mahavira.Its two – storied structure sports a colourful pageant of dwarfs, dancing and making music.This intricate as well as delicate piece of ancient architectural heritage is a must to see experience. On the north to the Ellora caves and a mile away from central caves lies the Jain caves. Look at the ceilings of cave number 32 a shrine of Indra Sabha and you will find the beautiful design of Lotus flower.

Wall Paintings Of Ajanta Ellora Caves:

The carvings and the paintings in the caves reveal the creative vision of the artist.The famous wall paintings in Ellora are found in 5 caves, but these paintings are preserved only in Kailasa temple. These paintings were painted in two series, first, at the time of carving the caves and second, after many centuries later. The paintings of the first series show Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. The themes of the paintings portray the religious intensity of the sculptors and painters, who depict events from the life of Buddha and the Jataka Tales. In the later series the main composition is that of a procession of Shaiva holy men. The paintings also show gracefully flying ‘Apsaras’. Sadly, very few such murals in the Jain temples are well preserved. In the tempera technique, the paintings are done on a base of mud-plaster. Ajanta caves also throw light on the enlightening history of the times, which includes court scenes, street scenes and cameos of domestic life as well.

Ajanta and Ellora Caves Festivals:

The four day Ellora Ajanta Festival is held at Soneri Mahal (Golden Palace), an historic 17th century architectural marvel in Aurangabad near Ellora, in the last week of November each year. The MTDC organizes the famous Ellora Festival of classical dance and music at these caves every year in the third week of March.The festival features some of the most distinguished singers and dancers of India.

Attractions near Ajanta Ellora Caves:

  • Aurangabad Caves:
    The caves are situated 9 Kms away from Aurangabad city, near Bibi Ka Maqbara. The temple carved between the 6th and 8th century A.D are major attractions here.
  • Bibi Ka Maqbara:
    Built in 1679 by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, this mausoleum is just 8 Kms away from Aurangabad. The tomb was built by Aurangzeb in memory of his wife Rabia-ud-Durrani.
  • Panchakki (Water Mill):
    The Panchakki dates back to the Mughal period was built to commemorate a Muslim saint Baba Shah Muzzafar. Built in 1624 A.D, the mill deriving its name from a mill functioned by water power for grinding corn.

How to Reach Ajanta Ellora Caves By Air:

The nearest airport from these caves is situated in Aurangabad (15 kms). It is a domestic airport.Currently Aurangabad is the nearest Air point for Ajanta. It can be reached from New Delhi and Mumbai (Bombay), international airport. Indian airlines as well as Jet Airways have daily flight to Aurangabad from New Delhi and Mumbai. Jalgaon is also developing its Airport. Soon it will also start. Ajanta Caves is far near from Jalgaon Airport while a bit distant from Aurangabad Airport.

How to Reach Ajanta Ellora Caves By Train:

Jalgaon is the best place to drop in for Ajanta if you like Rail journey. This is the most convenient way to reach Ajanta and Ellora caves. Jalgaon railway station which is nearly 60 kilometers from Ajanta, is the nearby rail terminal from Ajanta, offering trouble-free transportation entrée from the chief towns of India.It is centre point of all major railway stations of India and has Bhusaval (Just 28kms from Jalgaon) as Second largest depot of railways in entire Asia.It is a significant junction of the majority of the chief railway stations of the nation and Bhusaval, which is positioned just about 28 kms from Jalgaon is the subsequent biggest railway railroad station in Asia. All Super Fast, express, mail and passenger trains stops at Bhusaval and most of them at Jalgaon as well. You can check online status of availability of reservation on Indian railways official website. From Jalgaon, you can pick up Taxi/ state transport department bus to reach ajanta. All Super Fast, express, mail and traveler trains stop at Bhusaval and a good number of them halt at Jalgaon too. From Jalgaon, you can take cab or the state transport department bus in order to arrive at Ajanta. The twin trains Tapovan Express and Devgiri Express leave each day from Mumbai to Aurangabad.

How to Reach Ajanta Ellora Caves By Bus:

Aurangabad is the nearest location for inter-state buses. Aurangabad to Ellora is around 30km. One can reserve Auto which will charge around Rs 350-400. Or else take Govt Buses from Central bus stop (Aurangabad). Aurangabad is a major city of Maharashtra, therefore it is well connected by road. To reach Ellora Caves tourists should take a taxi from Aurangabad. State buses run from Mumbai, Pune, Ahmednagar, Jalgaon, Shirdi, Nasik, Dhule, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Indore and Bijapur to Aurangabad. Jalgaon (59 km from Ajanta) is the nearest station where you should alight while coming from Delhi or Mumbai.

How to Reach  Mumbai to Ajanta Ellora Caves By Air:

The nearest airport from these caves is situated in Aurangabad (15 kms). It is a domestic airport.Currently Aurangabad is the nearest Air point for Ajanta. It can be reached from Mumbai (Bombay), international airport.

How to Reach  Mumbai to Ajanta Ellora Caves By Train:

Take a train from Mumbai ( from CST or LTT or Dadar or Thane – check the timetable ) for Aurangabad. From Aurangabad, you can hire a private vehicle for Ellora caves and other spots. Try visiting Daulatabad for enroute Ellora. Regular ST buses do ply to Ellora from Aurangabad.

How to Reach  Mumbai to Ajanta Ellora Caves By Bus:

Ajanta Caves are connected to a network of excellent roadways with Mumbai.

Mumbai to Ajanta Ellora Caves Tour Planing:

  • Duration : 5 nights / 6 Days
  • Destinations : Mumbai – Aurangabad – back home
  • Day 1: Arrival – Mumbai
    Upon arrival at the Mumbai airport, our tour representative will escort you to a hotel of your choice. Unwind in the hotel rooms and set out for a half day sight seeing tour of the city. Visit Marine Drive, Gateway of India and Chowpatty Beach. Evening is free for shopping and other leisure activities. Stay overnight at hotel.
  • Day 2: Mumbai
    Morning post breakfast proceed to explore the city of dreams – Mumbai. Visit the famous Hanging Gardens in Malabar Hills, Flora Fountain at the Hutama Chowk, and the 18 km long Juhu Beach. Evening at leisure. Return to the hotel for dinner and night stay.
  • Day 3: Mumbai (Elephanta Caves)
    Morning post breakfast leave to see the world renowned Elephanta Caves. Located on Elephanta Island in the Arabian Sea, the caves are placed at a short distance of 10 km from the Gateway of India. Elephanta caves house rock cut temples dedicated to Lord Shiva dating back to the 5th century BC. The temples with brilliant sculptures and art work are witness of the excellence and consummation of the bygone era. Evening at leisure. Return to the hotel for dinner and night stay.
  • Day 4: Mumbai – Aurangabad – Ellora Caves
    Morning post breakfast, transfer to airport and board a flight to Aurangabad. Upon arrival our tour representative will greet you and escort you to a hotel. Unwind and leave to explore the spellbinding beauty of the Ellora Caves. Visit the centuries old composition of three distinct religions – Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Behold the creation of the 34 remarkable caves out of which there are 12 Buddhist Caves, 17 Hindu caves and 5 Jain caves. The carved sculptures inside the caves, made using hammer and chisel are the witness of architectural brilliance in the past centuries. Also visit the world famous Kailash temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Evening return to hotel for dinner and night stay.
  • Day 5: Aurangabad – Ajanta Caves
    Early morning post breakfast leave for Ajanta Caves. The 2nd century B.C. caves will completely transfix you. Placed deep inside the Sahyadri hills the caves are an architectural marvel of the bygone era. The 30 caves depict the story of Lord Buddha, Bodhisattva (followers of Buddhism), the tales of Jatakas and Buddhism religion that prevailed here during this era. The paintings and sculptures inside the caves are simply outstanding and worth watching. Familiarize yourself with the Buddhists Chaitya Grihas, Monasteries and also behold the Greek and Roman compositions and proportions. Evening transfer to the hotel for dinner and night stay.
  • Day 6: Aurangabad – Back home
    Early morning transfer to the airport to board a flight back home.

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