Ellora Travel Guide

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This Ellora travel guide will help you make the most of your visit to this historical dig site. Noted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the caves found at Ellora are an intricate design of three religions woven together into one geographical wonder. 

Getting There

Getting to the site needs to be done by road. Trains, buses and planes come as far as Aurangabad, with some offering connections to Ellora, but once in the city, you'll need a car or separate bus line to get you to the cave site. Make sure to plan your trip according to the times when the caves are open to visitors. The normal operating times are Tuesday-Sunday from dawn until dusk.

The Caves

The caves at Ellora play major roles in three major world religions. Followers of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism are each represented here in the caves adorned with rock shrines. The caves themselves are a network of 34 individual caves excavated between the fifth and thirteenth centuries. Despite their ancient ties, the caves remained a well kept mystery until accidentally discovered in 1819 by a hunting party. Today the caves are protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. The landscape itself is breath taking, with many of the caves overlooking lush green valleys.

Buddhist Caves

Followers of Buddhism can also see wall murals depicting events in the life of Buddha. In all, there are 12 Buddhist caves. These are the oldest of the caves at Ellora. Cave number 1 is thought to be the best cave for these paintings. Other notable paintings are found in caves 2, 16 and 17. Aside from just paintings, the caves boast many sculptures and shrines. Caves to visit for the most awe inspiring sculptures are caves 1, 4, 17, 19, 24 and 26.

Hindu Caves

There are 17 Hindu caves to explore. These caves were carved when Hinduism was thriving in India, between 600- 870 A.D. All caves are dedicated to major God Shiva, though there are many depictions of Vishnu throughout. The keystone caves for the Hindu religion include cave numbers 21, 25 and 29. Cave 21 is thought to be the oldest cave in all of Ellora. Cave 29 tells a story of Shiva destroying a demon. This cave is sometimes framed by a seasonal waterfall.

Jain Caves

With only 5 caves dedicated to Jainism, this religious plays a smaller role in Ellora. These caves are not as large as the others, but the artwork within is incredibly detailed. The most notable of these caves is number 32 which showcase intricate carvings including a ceiling lotus flower etching.

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October 12, 2007 new by sf

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