Ajanta Caves
Information about Ajanta Caves

The Ajanta caves consist of 30 Caves including the unfinished ones, which belongs from 200 BC to 650 AD. These caves are situated about 104 kms. away from Aurangabad. These Buddhist cave temples and monasteries are cut from the rocks and volcanic lava of the Deccan in the forest ravines of the Sahyadri hills and are set in beautiful sylvan surroundings. They were discovered accidentally by a British Captain, John Smith in 1819, on a hunting expedition. The Ajanta caves provides a unique combination of architecture, sculpture and paintings. The caves are mainly known for their wall paintings, depicting scenes from life of Buddha. Two basic types of monastic Buddhist architecture are preserved at Ajanta, which are the Chaitya or prayer hall (Cave 9, 10, 19, 26 and 29) and Vihara or monastery (remaining 25 Caves). These caves suggest a well defined form of architecture, broadly resolving into two phases with a time gap of about 4 centuries from each other. In the Hinayana Phase two Chaitya Halls (Cave 9 and 10) and 4 Viharas (Cave 8, 12, 13 and 15A) are included. In the Mahayana Phase, 3 Chaityas (Cave 19 and 26 and 29 being incomplete) and 11 exquisite Viharas (Cave 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 11, 15, 17 and 20 to 24) are included. While, the Ajanta sculptures of the Mahayana Phase establish a formal religious imagery and contain paintings and sculptures, the Hinayana phase is virtually devoid of carvings.

Caves in Ajanta

Cave 1 is one of the finest monasteries in Ajanta and its interior paintings are greatest. Graciously posed Bodhisattvas namely Padmapani and Vajrapani with elaborate head dressed flanks the antechamber doorway. The walls on the side of the antechamber depict the assault and temptation by Mara and the miracle at Sravasti. Scenes from the Jataka tales such as Shibi Jataka, Samkhapala Jataka, Mahajanka Jataka, and Champeyya Jataka are depicted in the walls of the cave.

Cave 2 monastery repeat the basic scheme of Cave 1, and is also known for its painted ceiling. The painting include variety of designs, scrollwork, geometric patterns, miniature seated Buddhas, dream of the Buddha’s mother, Maya and the birth of the Buddha, procession of female devotees carrying offerings and scenes from the Hamsa Jataka and Vidhurapandita Jataka. Caves 4 and 6 are Viharas or Monasteries of architectural interest.

Caves 9, 10, 12, and 15A are Chaitya Halls of the Hinayana period. Cave 10 is among the first excavations at the site and is one of the most impressive early Buddhst Chaitya Halls in Western India which belongs to the 2nd Century BC. This cave contains the earlier and later groups of paintings. Scenes from the Sama Jataka and Chhaddanta Jataka are depicted on the caves. Cave 12 has lost its façade, due to which the interior square hall is exposed. In cave 15A only portions of the front wall survive.

Caves 14, 15 and 16 are Viharas which belongs to the Mahayana Phase. Cave 14 was planned on a large scale, but was never finished. The verandah of cave 15 has mostly fallen. Above the doorway is a stupa sheltered by a canopy of serpent hoods. Buddha images appear in the shrine and on the rear wall of the hall. Cave 16 is one of the finest monasteries at Ajanta. Within the hall on the left wall is an illustration of the conversion of Nanda, Buddha’s cousin. Other paintings include the miracle of Sravasti, elephant procession, Buddha begging for alms from his wife and son, Gautam’s first meditation, scenes from the Hasti Jataka and Maha Ummagga Jataka.

The Cave 17 vihara preserves the greatest number of wall paintings which includes a row of eight Buddhas, a much damaged panel of Indra flying through the clouds accompanied by his troupe of celestial dancers, apsaras and musicians, Buddha subduning Nalagiri, the furious elephant sent by his jealous cousin, Devadatta and scenes from various Jataka tales like the Chhaddanta Jataka, Mahamapi Jataka, Vessantara Jataka, Sutasoma Jataka, Matiposaka Jataka and Nigrodhamiriga Jataka. Cave 19 is a perfectly executed rock-cut Chaitya. Cave 20 is a small monastery in which the antechamber protrudes into the hall and there are no columns.

Caves 21 to 24 represents the last examples of the work at Ajanta. They all are in different stages of completion. Cave 26 is a Chaitya Hall larger than Cave 19, but is similar in its arrangements and decorative scheme.

How to get there

By Air:
The nearest airport is situated in Aurangabad, about 104 kms. from Ajanta Caves.

By Rail:
The nearest railway station is situated in Jalgaon, about 58 kms. from Ajanta Caves.

By Road:
Ajanta Caves are directly connected by road to Mumbai, Jalgaon and Aurangabad.


Frequent group departures...

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