Ajanta Caves Travel Guide

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The Ajanta Caves are a historical landmark being named an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ajanta is a village in Maharashtra, India and the caves are found in a wooded horseshoe shaped ravine where the river Waghur flows at the bottom. There are officially 29 caves that form 35 to 110 feet from the river and the last one, not included in the official count, was re-discovered in 1956. They date back to about 200 BC and were found during the 19th century by soldiers hiding under thick vegetation.

There is something interesting concerning the outside of the caves. They resemble the ancient American Anastazi caves in that they were at once dwellings and the facades have been altered. Some are simple with just a porch and others are ornate with pillars and windows. There is a large veranda that cuts across the front of the caves and has arches and pillars.  

Traditions

It was a tradition when in use, that some halls were to be lived in by monastic Buddhists and their students while other halls were for gathering together. Shrines were built in the back walls to honor Buddha and often show him sitting and teaching. The ceilings and walls in the caves are decorated with paintings and carvings most of which depict the life of Buddha. The limestone of the caves was carved into incredible monuments to Buddha. Some remind one of the magnificent stone cathedrals built in the British Isles. These murals and carvings are quite elaborate and very beautiful. When you think this was all done by hand you realize what a wonder it really is.  

Festivals

A festival is held at the Soneri Mahal or Golden Palace in Aurangabad the last week of November. It is great to visit the caves during that time and stay in the town of Aurangabad (about 1 hour away from the caves) so you can see the singers and dancers the festival brings to the area. It is best to visit from November to March when the weather is cooler and a bit drier.

Hotels and Lodging

The caves are open from 9:00 am to around 5:00 pm and are not open on Mondays.   It is free to go on Fridays and the regular fee is $10. Although there aren’t too many hotels at the caves, one being the Ajanta Travelers Lodge, you can find hotels to match any budget in Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad, Ahmendagar, and Dhule. There is a resort near Aurangabad railway station. Many hotels and other travel agencies coordinate tours to the caves.  

Contributors

August 05, 2005 change by reen

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