The Ajanta and Ellora Caves are situated near the Aurangabad town in the Indian state of Maharashtra. In the year 1983, they were recognized as UNESCO World Heritage site. They are an archaeological gemstone that depicts ancient craft and mastery achieved with only hammer, chisel and hands. They are caves cut out of Rocks which tell tales of the past through the paintings and carvings on the rock walls. Even though they are spoken of together, they are situated at a distance of approximately 100kms from each other. Here is everything that you should know about the Ajanta and Ellora Caves
- Ajanta and Ellora Caves were built in two parts. The Ajanta caves are older and were built between 2nd century BCE to 480 or 650 CE in two phases in two different periods, Satavahana Period and Vakataka Period, whereas the Ellora caves were built in between 5th and 10th century CE.
- The Ajanta Caves has various Buddhist Viharas that is a place of meditation and entertainment for Buddhist monks. They are covered and brought into use in case of rains or storms. The Ellora caves, on the other hand, can be divided into three parts and depict Gods and incarnations of religions like Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.
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- There are 30 Ajanta Caves and 34 Ellora caves which makes it a total of 64 caves which are open to the public. There are otherwise in total more than 100 Ellora caves (inclusive of 34 spoken of above), the rest are kept closed.
- Out of 34 Ellora caves that are open for public, 12 caves are dedicated to Buddhism depicting various forms of Buddha, 17 caves depict Hindu culture and its divine incarnations, and 5 caves are dedicated to Jainism.
- The best attractions at Ajanta Caves are cave 1, cave 2, cave 4 and cave 17. They depict some most beautiful rock cut out designs and paintings. The sculptures are unique and through murals, they reveal different life stages of Buddha and other enlightened spirits.
- Though we would recommend you find sufficient time in hand when you plan to visit the caves, however if you are short of time, the best attraction at Ellora Caves are cave 1, cave 2, cave 15 and cave 16, that should not be missed.
- Cave 15 depicts the ‘Dashavatara’ that is Lord Vishnu’s ten avatars. Cave 16 includes the Kailash temple. As Mount Kailash is the divine abode of Lord Shiva, hence this temple receives a lot of Shiva devotees and other visitors who are keen to see the mysterious spell bounding ancient art.
- The best time to visit the caves is from September to March. The pleasant weather will make your walk through the caves less tiring. You can also plan your visit during the month of November when they celebrate the Ajanta and Ellora festival.
- The Ajanta and Ellora caves are at a distance of approximately 350kms from Mumbai city. The Ajanta caves are approximately 100kms from Aurangabad while Ellora caves are approximately 30kms.
- The caves are closed on Monday, Ajanta caves open from 9 am to 9 pm and Ellora caves are open from sunrise till the sunset.
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