The Stonehenge in the United Kingdom, Easter Islands in Chile and the great pyramids in Egypt are some of the most enchanting pre-historic monuments around the world. But closer to home, many such monuments portray our history, rich culture and heritage to the world.
One such mesmerizing place is Ajanta and Ellora, a UNESCO world heritage site and an abode of intricate scriptures and carvings that are a sight for sore eyes.
Ajanta and Ellora are rock-cut cave monuments, which date back to 480 BCE in the city of Aurangabad, in the state of Maharashtra.
Ajanta and Ellora caves, as they’re popularly called as are two different pre-historic locations that are several kilometres apart. Nevertheless, their unmatchable beauty together puts them at the pinnacle of prehistoric locations in India.
How to reach Ajanta & Ellora Caves?
Airways: Aurangabad airport is the nearest Airport which is well connected to important cities such as Mumbai and Delhi.
Railways: nearest railway station in Jalgaon, about 60 kilometres away from the caves.
Roadways: Aurangabad is easily accessible and well connected to various cities like Mumbai, Hyderabad and Ahemdabad.
Best places in Ajanta and Ellora
Ajanta and Ellora caves are around 100 kilometres apart from each other. But that won’t stop us from igniting the travel bug in you that’ll lead you to discover this marvellous world.
Must see in caves in Ajanta:
Carved into a horseshoe-shaped mountain face in a river valley, the caves of Ajanta will surely leave you spellbound.
The 30 rock-cut out caves are famous for its splendid architecture of the Buddhist Vihara of king Harishsena, sculptures of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain religious figure and Brahmi inscriptions that’ll make your visit a memorable one.
Cave 1: a grand doorway adorned with sculptures depicting important elements of the lives of Lord Buddha welcomes you to one of the grandest caves of Ajanta.
This cave is worth your time as you get to witness authentic paintings and age-old scriptures and inscriptions.
Cave 2: the main highlight of this Mahayana Monastry cave is its ceiling, intricately designed with carvings of serpent kings and their followers, natural elements like birds fruits and flowers.
Cave 4: despite the unfinished vihara planned on a grandiose scale, the monasteries of cave 4 are exquisitely beautiful and one of the most visited caves in Ajanta.
Cave 17: consisting of well-preserved paintings, this Mahayana monastery cave has a doorway depicting the seven Manushi Buddhas, a spacious hall surrounded by 17 cells on three sides, adding to the charm and grandiose of this creation.
Must see caves in Ellora:
Locally known as ‘Verul Leni’, the Ellora caves is the UNESCO world heritage site, consisting of about 100 rock-cut out caves in the form of temples, monuments and monasteries depicting religious figures and deities, these sculptures, carvings, and creations of the Hindu, Jain and Buddhist culture that will surely leave you awe-inspired.
Caves 1-12: these caves consist of Buddhist caves and monasteries, spacious prayers halls and Buddha viharas. The monasteries also have shrines of Gautam Buddha, Bodhisattvas and saints.
Cave 13-29: these caves depict Hindu monuments of deities and Hindu mythological characters. They were constructed partly during the Kalachuris period and partly during the Rashtrakuta period.
It consists of some notable monuments such as the Dashavtara cave, depicting the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu and Cave 16 being the Kailasa temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Caves 30-34: located at the north of Ellora, these caves depict the Jain deities and religious figures. Among these is the ‘Chota Kailasa’, a temple bearing similar carvings and architecture as the Kailasa temple. It has also had the ‘Indra sabha’ a two-story monolithic shrine and the Jagganath sabha, the largest of the Jain caves.
Frequently Asked Questions About Ajanta & Ellora Caves:
Q. Where is Ajanta Ellora?
A. Ajanta Ellora caves are in Aurangabad in the state of Maharashtra
Q. Are Ajanta and Ellora the same?
A. No, they both are different pre-historic locations, about 100 kilometres apart from each other. The caves in Ajanta are close by whereas the caves in Ellora are scattered.
Q. How long does it take to cover Ajanta Ellora?
A. one should invest an entire day at each location when visiting Ajanta Ellora caves. Since they are 100 kilometres apart, it takes about 3 hours to cover the distance and about 2 hours to cover each location separately.
Q. Which caves are better, Ajanta or Ellora?
A. Both Caves possess exuberant beauty and provide a memorable experience. Ajanta caves are much closer and have majorly sculptures and paintings depicting Buddhism whereas Ellora caves are scattered and are based on Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist cultures
Q. Is there an entry fee for the visit?
A. Yes. At Ajanta caves, the entry fee is INR 10 for Indian nationals and INR 250 for foreign nationals.
At Ellora caves for Indian citizens as well as tourists from SAARC and BIMSTEC countries, the entry fee is INR 30, whereas other tourists have to pay INR 500 for entry. There is no entry fee for children up to 15 years of age.
Q. What is the best time to visit Ajanta Ellora caves?
A. the caves are open all year round and the most preferable time of visit is from June to March. The best time to visit Ajanta Ellora caves would be during the Ellora Ajanta International Festival, showcasing Indian culture and folklore that takes place during October.
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