Ajanta Ellora Caves are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Since 1983, these sites are safeguarded monuments. They are located in the northern part of Maharashtra, in Aurangabad District.
The Ajanta Ellora Caves represent the rich historical culture of India and symbolize the art and skill of Indian Craftsmen prevalent in the bygone era. They are lionized for their architecture, sculpture and paintings.
Plan a trip to Ajanta Ellora Caves in order to witness the rich historical and cultural past of India.
The distance between Ajanta and Ellora Caves is approximately 100 kms which is less than an hour’s drive.
History & Location of Ajanta Ellora Caves
The Ajanta Caves are wholly Buddhist and date back to the time frame between 200 BC to 650 AD. Some of the famous historians are of the view that these caves were built in two phases. Travelers from all over the world come here to witness the best masterpieces of Buddhist art in India. It is located near Jalgaon which is around 100 kms from Aurangabad.
Evidence suggests that Ajanta Caves served as a spiritual refuge for pilgrims and monks in ancient India. Chinese Buddhist travelers such as Fa Hien and Hiuen Tsang have also mentioned about the Ajanta Caves in their memoirs. Later on it was discovered by the western world and during the colonial era that they were the territory of the princely state of Hyderabad.
On the other hand, Ellora Caves are located around 30 km from Aurangabad and date back to the period between 350 AD to 700 AD. These caves contain carvings and sculptures related to Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.
Important Traveler Details for Visiting Ajanta Ellora Caves
|Opening and Closing timings||Both the caves are open from 9 a.m. in the morning and close by sunset at 5.30 p.m.
Ajanta caves are closed on Mondays and Ellora Caves are closed on Tuesdays.
|Best time to visit||Summers – March to May.
Monsoons- June to September.
Winters- November to February.
Indians and citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC countries- Rs. 10.
There is an additional charge of Rs. 25 in case you wish to use a video camera inside the caves. Entry is free for children below 15 years.
|Tip for first time visitors||Don’t forget to hire a tour guide as a one to one attention is exactly what you will need for a wonderful, unforgettable experience.|
How to Reach Ajanta Ellora Caves ?
In order to reach Ajanta Ellora caves, any one of the following modes of transport can be used –
|By road||You can hire a taxi or board a bus. Public buses are available from Aurangabad and Jalgaon.
The highway which connects Aurangabad to Mumbai is well connected with other cities like Delhi, Jaipur, Indore.
|By train||The nearest railway station to the caves is Jalgaon.
Another option is Aurangabad railway station. From there you can take a taxi or bus.
Availability of Budget Accommodations near Ajanta Ellora Caves
It is recommended that you make arrangements for stay at Aurangabad in order to visit Ajanta Ellora Caves.
Some of the most budget stay options are as follows –
Elaborate Details about Ajanta Ellora Caves
There are 29 caves in Ajanta while Ellora has 34 caves. They are numbered for the visitor’s convenience. Both the Caves are cut out from the volcanic lava of the Deccan Plateau. Every pillar is carved from solid rock.
The caves in Ajanta are home to several remarkable paintings which include Padmapani and Boddhisatvas. The most engrossing among them are the Jataka Tales that illustrate the stories related to the previous incarnations of Lord Buddha. The paintings that adorn the walls and ceilings of the caves depict incidents from the life of Lord Buddha.
Cave number 10 is the oldest among the lot. Cave number 17 has best preserved and most diverse paintings. Famous images include a flying apsara and Buddha returning home from his enlightenment to his wife and son.
Ellora also houses astonishing sculptures in different caves which includes meditating Buddha. Cave 10 with its arches and figures reminded me of a Roman basilica.
The most prominent among them is Cave number 16 which is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is known as Kailasa Temple. It is the world’s largest megalith with the gateway, sanctum, pavilion and assembly hall, all cut out of one single rock.
Then there is Cave number 10 which is also known as Sutar ki jhopdi.
The whole ambiance tempts you to click more and more pictures. But inside the caves, flashes are not allowed to prevent deterioration of the paintings by the reaction of light. So you have to be careful while clicking pictures.
Attractions in and around Ajanta Ellora Caves
Local attractions can be visited at any time of the day, as suitable for travelers. Sightseeing can be done which will take one or two days. The main attractions include rock cut caves, Buddha Statues, Kailash Temple, Buddhist Caves, Jain Caves, Indra Sabha and some of the other caves. Apart from these magnificent Caves, the shopping plaza is another major tourist attraction in Ajanta.
This place is captivating as the region is prolific in the art and culture of several communities. There are semi-precious stones, sculptures of Lord Buddha, artifacts, silver objects and other exhilarating things for all you history lovers! These streets are always buzzing with visitors from across the world.
One should also visit Bibi Ka Maqbara built by Azam Shah, Daulatabad Fort constructed by the Yadav Clan and Grishneshwar Temple. They are located in close vicinity to the Ajanta and Ellora Caves.
Ajanta Ellora Aurangabad Festival
The Ajanta Ellora Aurangabad Festival is held in the Soneri Mahal since 2002. It aims to put historical sites in and around Aurangabad in the spotlight.
India’s renowned artists perform in this festival to showcase their talent in music and dance which also includes mushairas, instrumentals, vocals and a lot more.
Experiencing such glorious performances in the backdrop of the Ajanta Ellora caves will surely be an enthralling experience.
There is also a crafts haat in Aurangabad—Kalagram which organizes an event known as Lokotsav. If you have a thing for antiques, crafts, local cuisine then you should definitely come and visit Lokotsav.
Local Food and Cuisine of Aurangabad
The cuisine of Aurangabad is a mix of North Indian and Hyderabadi cuisine as this place was once ruled by the Mughals and Nizams. It is a food lover’s delight especially for non-vegetarians as it is well known for Nawabi Biryani, Kebabs and other delicacies. But the restaurants here also serve amazing vegetarian food.
MTDC Ajanta restaurant is located at the entrance to the Ajanta Caves and it serves delicious food. There is Kailash restaurant which serves Indian, South Indian and Chinese cuisine. Some of the other well-known places where you can gorge on lip smacking food are Bhoj Restaurant and Vrindavan Pure Veg Restaurant.
The Ajanta Ellora Caves are results of the work of men who possessed great skills and talent. Turning mountain faces into art, temples and working only with natural light is truly commendable. One should definitely visit these heritage sites for an everlasting experience.
Muskan Bindra is a law student pursuing BALLB(H) from Amity Law School and is currently in her fourth year. Her hobbies include listening to music, travelling, watching movies and clicking pictures of the places which she visits. Muskan also has an inclination towards nature photography. Making note of her travel experiences is her treasured pursuit. Whenever Muskan finds time, she travels, even to the remotest of places. Travelling makes her stay contented.