Travelling to the Maharastra? Then you should not miss the magnificent Ajanta and Ellora caves.
Visit these world heritage sites, the Ajanta and Ellora caves which are situated 30 kms from Aurangabad.
This is one of the finest examples of ancient Indian rock art architecture. They have been made by chipping away boulders of rock by generations of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monks.These caves served various purposes; they were all monasteries, chapels and temples. The sculptures are very detailed, thus enhancing their artistic beauty.
Unlike the caves at Ajanta, which are carved into a sheer rock face, the Ellora caves are lined at a 2 km long cliff. This cliff allowed sculptors and architects to build an elaborate courtyard infront of the shrines. Its magnificence is awe inspiring and this rightly earned the tag of UNESCO world heritage site.
The 34 caves at Ellora and the 29 caves at Ajanta remained in obscurity for over a millennium, till John Smith, a British Army Officer, accidentally stumbled upon them while on a hunting expedition in 1819. Ajanta and Ellora are protected monument sites under the Archaeological Survey of India and have been included in the World Heritage list of monuments.
Ellora has 34 caves in all: 12 Buddhist (AD 600–800), 17 Hindu (AD 600–900) and 5 Jain (AD 800–1000).
The grandest of them is the magnificent Kailasa Temple (cave 16). It is the world’s largest monolithic sculpture which has been made by 7000 laborers over a 150 year period. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this is one the best examples of ancient Indian architecture.
This site in the ancient times represented the renaissance of Hinduism under the Chalukya and Rashtrakuta dynasties, the subsequent decline of Indian Buddhism and a brief resurgence of Jainism under official patronage.
The various Tantric influence can also be seen in these sculptors showing that various religions co- existed in peace.
Official guides can be hired at the ticket office in front of the Kailasa Temple for Rs750. Most guides have an extensive knowledge of cave architecture, so it would be a good idea to hire one.
If you are travelling on a tight schedule, Ellora should be a ‘must visit’ in your itinerary.
The entry fees charged is Rs 10 for Indians, Rs 250 for foreigners. Free entry for children below 15 years. Still Photography: Free, Video Photography: Rs. 25