The story behind the deep, dark and fascinating Ajanta and Ellora Caves

Posted on April 9, 2017 by

Artistically carved inside a hillside huge rock, stands this amazing reminiscent of how amazing the hard work and talent can turn out to be. There are about 34 caves in Ajanta and about 29 of them in Ellora and together they constitute one of the world’s greatest wonders. The caves at Ajanta are mainly Buddhist when it comes to the religious significance, while the caves at Ellora are a decent mixture of Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain beliefs. They have made a secure place in the list of UNESCO world heritage sites.

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How to reach

The railway is the best way to reach Ajanta and Ellora caves. Aurangabad is the nearest station to the Ellora caves at about 45 minutes away while Jalgaon station makes it to the Ajanta caves as the nearest and it takes about half an hour to reach there. It’s best to hire a taxi or a cab to reach the caves from the railway stations.

Those who prefer to reach here by flight should note that Aurangabad can be reached directly from Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur and Udaipur airports. The place is about 99 km from Ajanta and 30 km from Ellora.

What to expect

The most brilliant and surprising thing about the caves is that they are totally manmade. No equipment was used in their formation, the manpower and a hammer and a chisel were the only things that were involved in the making. The Ajanta caves are slightly more artistic in nature than Ellora caves as they feature some rich paintings and sculpture while the Ellora caves are known best for their architectural significance.

Let’s begin with the sightseeing.

The Ajanta Caves

The Ajanta caves are series of 29 Buddhist cave temples, some of which date from the 2nd century BC.  The walls inside the Ajanta caves give a great glimpse of the different phases of the life of Buddha and other Buddhist divinities through sculpture and paintings. Out of the most interesting tales that the walls inside tells are the Jatak tales.

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The Ellora Caves

The Ellora caves are known for their amalgam of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism emotions. The wall carvings depict the stories of Hindu mythology and feature some great artistic talents of the creators. The site features over 100 caves, of which 34, are allowed to be visited by the public.  These caves consist of 12 Buddhist caves, 17 Hindu caves, and 5 Jain caves, all of which present the respective deities and mythologies prevalent in the ancient times.

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Kailasa Temple

It is one of the largest rock cut ancient Hindu temples located in Ellora. What makes the temple at Ellora so special is that is carved out of a single rock. Do not miss the incredible view of this temple, from the top of the rock; A little climb could get you to see massive scale of it all. However, bringing a torch to explore the caves is advisable as the lighting is quite poor inside.

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Jain Caves, Ellora

There are in total 5 Jain caves at Ellora and that date back to the ninth and tenth century AD. The important ones are the Indra Sabha (cave 32), Chhota Kailash (cave 30) and the Jagannath Sabha (cave 33).

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Where to stay

Hotel Kailas happens to be located right on the opposite side of Ellora caves. Ajanta T Junction guest house and Ajanta tourist resort are two places that cater the most of the tourists.

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Time to visit

Although, a trip can be made any time a year but the time between November to March is considered to be the best for having a trip as the season is cool and dry.

Restaurants and Local Food

The cuisine of Aurangabad emanates the flavor of North India and Hyderabadi cuisine. Kailash Restaurant, Tandoor Restaurant, and Bar Bhoj Restaurant can be explored here.

Ajanta Ellora festival

Tourists planning to visit the Ajanta Ellora caves should not miss the three-day international festival, the Ajanta Ellora festival celebrated in the city of Aurangabad. The festival organized every year between the months of November and March is truly a treat to the senses. Various artists will be seen performing in this prestigious festival. A mixture of cultural competitions for children, youth women, and senior citizens are also planned on this occasion.

For those who love to travel the past and get an insight into the ancient India, Ajanta and Ellora caves by the river Waghora, are the best sites which bring the ancient India into the limelight

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