Tourist Places in Ajanta Ellora Caves
Cave shrines are quite interesting to check out, especially those of Ajanta Ellora Caves. These caves are located in Maharashtra at Aurangabad. As architectural and historical wonder, the caves are a real attraction to visitors from all over the world. The cave shrines at Ajanta and Ellora Caves are made out of hand cut rock. As per the historical records, these caves and the shrines were made between 2nd century BC and 8th century AD. During an expedition in 1819, these caves were discovered by John Smith. He was a British Army Officer who discovered the Ajanta and Ellora Caves along with his team. The caves lie amidst the Sahyadri hills. This neighbors the Waghora River. The caves are today honored as world heritage sites. These are among the must visit destinations of the nation and considered as one of the seven wonders of India.
Located deep inside the Sahayadri hill region, Ajanta Caves are a beauty to visit. The caves are known for their beautiful depiction of Buddhist Jatakas. These Jatakas are a string of stories about reincarnation of Lord Budhha. There are about 29 caves in Ajanta. In ancient times, because of their secluded locations, these were used by the Buddhist monks for religious practices. Cave paintings are yet another feature of the Ajanta Caves. These are masterpiece work created using hammer and chisel as tools. Well known cave paintings at this magnificent tourist destination include Avalokiteshvara, Boddhisattvas and Padmapani. Images and sculptures of the great Budhha too are worth noticing. You can also find images of nymphs and princesses on the walls of the caves.
There are about 34 caves in Ellora. These are found 30 kilometers from Aurangabad. The caves are known for their architecture with interesting interiors depicting the faiths of Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. There are structures that were carved out of rocks and created during 350 – 700 AD. Out of the 34 caves at Ellora, 5 caves in northern part belong to Jainism, 12 caves in the southern part belong to Buddhism and of the remaining 17 caves belong to Hinduism faith. At the Buddhist caves, you will find sculptures of Lord Buddha, which give the exact picture of the great saint. At cave 10 and 6 you will find pictures and depictions from the faith of Buddhism and Hinduism. There is a cave dedicated to Lord Vishvakarma. It is a Vihara as well as Chaitya. This has the sculpture of the great saint seated in the stupa. There are other images depicting joy and celebrations.
Ajanta and Ellora Caves Location :
The caves are in northern Maharastra, around 400 kilometers ( 250 miles ) from Mumbai.
Getting to the Ajanta and Ellora Caves :
The closest railway stations are in Aurangabad for the Ellora caves ( 45 minutes away ) and Jalgaon for the Ajanta caves ( 1.5 hours away ). There’s also an airport in Aurangabad. It’s possible to hire a car and drive between the two cave sites. Traveling time is around 2 hours.
Ajanta and Ellora 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. However, try to avoid visiting then as the crowds can be maddening and you won’t have a peaceful experience.
Ajanta and Ellora Caves Cost :
Admission for foreigners is $US10 for the Ajanta caves. The Ellora caves are free to enter except for the magnificent open air Kailasa temple which charges $US 5. Children younger than 15 years are free at both places.
Ajanta and Ellora Festivals :
The four day Ellora Ajanta Festival is held at Soneri Mahal ( Golden Palace ), an historic 17th century architectural marvel in Aurangabad near Ellora, in the last week of November each year. The festival features some of the most distinguished singers and dancers of India.
Ajanta and Ellora Caves Travel Tips :
The most incredible thing about these caves is that they were crafted by hand, with only a hammer and chisel. While the Ajanta caves are rich in paintings and sculpture, the Ellora caves are renowned for their extraordinary architecture. You can get an excellent view and perspective of inside the Kailasa temple by climbing up the hill around it. Its immense size covers twice the area of the Pantheon in Athens and is one and a half times as high. Bring a torch with you to the Ajanta caves as many of them are quite dark and lighting is poor. The best time to visit is from November to March when it’s cooler and dry.
Ajanta and Ellora Hotels :
The Hotel Kailas is located right opposite the Ellora caves. It’s a relaxing, tranquil place with stone walls and a scenic landscape. Rates are 900 rupees ( $20 ) for a hostel room, 1500 rupees ( $35 ) for a cottage, and 2000 rupees ( $50 ) for a cottage facing the caves. The hotel has plenty of amenities for guests including a restaurant, internet access, a library and games. You can also go paragliding. Quality accommodations at Ajanta are limited so if you need to stay in the area, it’s best to head to the Maharastra Tourism Development Corporation’s Holiday Resort in nearby Fardapur.
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