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Ajanta and Ellora Caves - Wonders of Incredible India

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The Ajanta Ellora caves are fine specimens of ancient rock-cut cave temples. Located in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, the Ajanta Ellora caves are UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sites. Even though Ajanta and Elora are often mentioned in the same breath, the cave temple clusters in these locations are different from each other in many aspects.

The caves are in northern Maharastra, around 400 kilometers (250 miles) from Mumbai. The 34 caves at Ellora and the 29 caves at Ajanta, were remained shrouded 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 Caves
It was only in the 19th century, that the Ajanta group of caves, lying deep within the Sahyadri hills, cut into the curved mountain side, above the Waghora river, were discovered. They depict the story of Buddhism, spanning a period from 200 BC to 650 AD.

The 29 caves were built as secluded retreats of the Buddhist monks, who taught and performed rituals in the Chaityas and Viharas, the ancient seats of learning, and nerve - centers of the Buddhist cultural movement.

Ellora Caves
The Ellora caves, 34 in number, are carved into the sides of a basaltic hill, 30 kms from Aurangabad. The finest specimens of cave - temple architecture, they house elaborate facades and exquisitely adorned interiors. These structures representing the three faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, were carved during the 350 AD to 700 AD period. The 12 caves to the south are Buddhist, the 17 in the centre dedicated to Hinduism, and the 5 caves to the north are Jain. The sculpture in the Buddhist caves accurately convey the nobility, grace and serenity inherent in the Buddha.

Caves Opening Hours
9am until sunset (around 5.30 p.m.). The Ajanta caves are closed on Mondays, and the Ellora caves are closed on Tuesdays. Both caves are open on national holidays.

Ajanta Architecture
The rock-cut Ajanta Caves are renowned masterpieces for their unique architecture and the profusion of sculptures and paintings. The walls and ceilings of the Ajanta Caves are chiseled.

Ajanta Paintings
The Ajanta caves are treasure troves of exquisite paintings that depict scenes from Jataka tales and the life of Lord Buddha. Beautiful murals adorning the walls, ceilings and the pillars bear.

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