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Home > Explore by Theme > Buddhist Circuit > Buddhist Sites in Maharashtra
 
 
 
 
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Buddhist Sites in Maharashtra
 

Ajanta and Ellora are the pride of Maharashtra. The rock-cut caves of both these sites are world famous and illustrate the degree of skill and artistry that Indian craftsmen had achieved several hundred years ago. Ajanta dates from 100 B.C. while Ellora is younger by some 600 years. The village of Ajanta is in the Sahyadri hills, about 99 kms. From Aurangabad; a few miles away in a mammoth horseshoe-formed rock, are 30 caves overlooking a gorge, each forming a room in the hill and some with inner rooms. All these have been carved out of solid rock with little more than a hammer and chisel and the faith and inspiration of Buddhism. Here, for the Buddhist monks, the artisans excavated Chaityas (chapels) for prayer and Viharas (monasteries) where they lived and taught. Many of the caves have the most exquisite detailed carvings on the walls, pillars and entrances as well as magnificent wall paintings.

   
  Ajanta Cave
 
It is a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India and has been listed in the World Heritage list of monuments. The 30 caves of Ajanta were created over a span of some 600 years.
   
 
In their range of time and treatments they provide a panorama of life in ancient India and are a source of all kinds of information... hair styles, ornaments, textiles, musical instruments, details of architecture, customs etc. It was from this collection of classical Indian art that a particular style was formed that traveled with Buddhism to many parts of the world. Similar paintings can be seen in Sigiriya in Sri Lanka, Bamiyan in Afghanistan, temples and shrines in Tibet, Nepal, China and Japan. Royal patronage made Ajanta possible. Professional artists carried out much of the work and each contributed his own individual skill and devotion to this monumental work.
   
 
Visitors often ask how the artist who painted the detailed frescoes and chiseled out the intricate carvings, managed to work in the dark interiors of the caves. It has been noticed that the caves are illuminated by natural light for part of the day and it is presumed that metal mirrors or sheets of white cloth were used to reflect sunlight into the inner recesses.
   
  Listing of Caves
 

Phase I: 2nd century BC to 1st century BC
Caves 9 & 10: Chaitya Halls or shrines
Caves 12 & 13: Viharas or monasteries

   
 

Phase II: 5 th century AD to 6 th century AD
Caves 19, 26 & 29: Chaitya Halls or shrines
Caves 1-7, 11, 14-18, 20-25, 27 & 28: Viharas or monasteries
Unfinished Caves: 3, 5, 8, 23-25, 28 & 2

   
  Getting There
 
There are plenty of tours operated from Aurangabad to the Ajanta Ellora Caves. These tours cover all the other attractions enroute the caves from Aurangabad.
   
  Nearest airport is Aurangabad 108 kms.
  Jalgaon, 58 kms. on Central Railway is a convenient railhead.
 
Mumba-Ajanta, 491 kms. via Jalgaon. Mumbai-Ajanta, 487 kms. via Manmad. State Transport and luxury buses run from Aurangabad and Jalgaon to Ajanta.
   
  Accommodation
 
MTDC Hotel at Ajanta- a choice of single (2 blocks) and double (2 blocks) rooms. Fardapur : self contained (1 block-14 beds) Fardapur (Kanhaiya Kunj self contained rooms (12 blocks) group. Accommodation (2 block 18 beds).
   
  Ellora Cave
 
The cave temples and monasteries at Ellora, excavated out of the vertical face of an escarpment, are 26 km north of Aurangabad. Extending in a linear arrangement, the 34 caves contain Buddhist Chaityas or halls of worship, and Viharas, or monasteries, Hindu and Jain temples.
   
 
Spanning a period of about 600 years between the 5th and 11th century AD, the earliest excavation here is of the Dhumar Lena (Cave 29). The most imposing excavation is, without doubt, that of the magnificent Kailasa Temple (Cave 16) which is the largest monolithic structure in the world. Interestingly, Ellora, unlike the site of Ajanta, was never 'rediscovered'. Known as Verul in ancient times, it has continuously attracted pilgrims through the centuries to the present day.
   
 
Ellora has been designed as a World Heritage Site, to be preserved as an artistic legacy that will continue to inspire and enrich the lives of generations to come.
   
  Listing of Caves
  Buddhist Caves: 5th century to 7th century AD
Caves 1 to 12 at the southern end
Hindu Caves: 8th century to 10th century AD
Caves 13 to 29 in the middle
Jain Caves: 9th century to 11th century AD
Caves 30 to 34 at the northern end
   
  Accommodation
 
It is recommended that tourists stay at Aurangabad. There are Daily tours to Ellora from Aurangabad.
   
 
 
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