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Ajanta Caves...

    About 107 kms from the city of Aurangabad, the rock cut caves of Ajanta nestle in a panaromic gorge, in the form of a gigantic horseshoe. Among the finest examples of some of the earliest . Buddhist architecture, cave paintings and sculptures, these caves comprise Chaitya Halls, or shrines dedicated to Lord Buddha and Viharas or monasteries used by buddhist monks for meditation and the study of Buddhist teachings.

The thirty rock-hewn caves at Ajanta, cut into the scarp of a cliff are either Chaityas (chapels) or Viharas (monasteries). On the walls of the caves are paintings, many still glowing with their original colours. The outer walls are covered with brilliantly executed sculpture. The Buddhist theme of the Ajanta paintings recounts the life of Lord Buddha and tales of his previous earthly experiences.

The view point from where John Smith first glimsed the caves, provides a magnificent sight of the U-Shaped gorge and its scenic surroundings.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. The caves including the unfinished ones are thirty in number, of which five (9, 10, 19, 26 and 29) are chaitya-grihas and the rest are sangharamas or viharas (monasteries). After centuries of oblivion, these caves were discovered in AD 1819.They fall into two distinct phases with a break of nearly four centuries between them. All the caves of the earlier phase date between 2nd century BC-AD. The caves of the second phase were excavated during the supremacy of the Vakatakas and Guptas. According to inscriptions, Varahadeva, the minister of the Vakataka king, Harishena (c. 475-500 AD), dedicated Cave 16 to the Buddhist sangha while Cave 17 was the gift of the prince, a feudatory. An inscription records that- Buddha image in Cave 4 was the gift of some Abhayanandi who hailed from Mathura.

A few paintings which survive on the walls of Caves 9 and 10 go back to the 2nd century BC-AD. The second group of the paintings started in about the fifth century AD and continued for the next two centuries as, noticeable in later caves. The themes are intensely religious in tone and centre round Buddha, Bodhisattvas, incidents from the life of Buddha and the Jatakas. The paintings are executed on a ground of mud-plaster in the tempera technique. Timeing Of Caves :- From 09 hours to 17:30 Hrs or Sunset whichever is earlier (Closed on Mondays) Entry Fees :- 1) For Indians above 15 years : Rs. 10/- per head 2) For Others above 15 years : US$ 5 or corresponding to Rs.250/- per head

How To Reach Ajanta Caves:-
By Air :- Nearest airport is Aurangabad 108 kms ,Pune Airport 350 Kms & From Mumbai International Airport 404 Kms.
By Rail :- Aurangabad 108 KM Jalgaon, 58 kms.also Bhusaval on Central Railway is a convenient railhead.
By Road :-Aurangabad Ajanta 108 KM Mumbai-Ajanta, 491 kms. via Jalgaon. Mumbai-Ajanta, 487kms. via Manmad. Mumbai-Ajanta, State Transport and luxury buses run from Aurangabad and Jalgaon to Ajanta.