The Ajanta caves consist of 30 Caves
including the unfinished ones, dating back from 200 BC to 250 AD. These
caves are situated 104 kms from Aurangabad and 52 kms from Jalgaon Railway
Station. The caves are cut from the 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, while on a hunting expedition.
Ajanta provides a unique combination of architecture, sculpture and
paintings. Two basic types of monastic Buddhist architecture are preserved
at Ajanta, the Chaitya or prayer hall (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.
Timing : From 09 hours to 17:30 Hrs or
Sunset whichever is earlier (Closed on Monda