The caves rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments which date back the 2nd century BCE to about 480 Common Era in Aurangabad city of north-central Maharashtra state in India
The 1st Buddhist cave monuments at Ajanta date from the second & first centuries B.C. on the Gupta period, more richly decorated caves were added to the original group.
The paintings statue of Ajanta is considered as masterpieces of Buddhist religious art.
The caves of Ajanta are described within the memoirs of several medieval era Chinese Buddhist travellers to India by a Mughal-era official of Akbar era in the early 17th century.
28 April 1819, a British officer John Smith, of the 28th sabres, while hunting tigers, search for the entrance to Cave No. 10 when an area shepherd boy guided him to the location the door.
The caves were acknowledged by locals already. Captain went to the village asked the villagers to return to the location with axes, torches, drums, to cut down the tangled jungle growth that made entering the cave difficult.
Ajanta Caves are dug out in the horse-shoe shaped bend of rock surface nearly seventy-six mt tall overlooking the Waghur River.
Built using only hammer chisel, these caves served as secluded retreats for Buddhist monks for about 9 centuries, then abruptly abandoned.
The complex consists of 30 rock-cut cave monuments inbuilt two distinct periods, out of which one a part of the complex was developed during the Satavahana period the against was done during the Vakataka period.
Caves 9, 10, 12, 13 15A were inbuilt the first phase during Satavahana dynasty they belong to Hinayana phase of Buddhism. of those Cave ninth & tenth are chaitya grihas Cave twelve, thirteen, & fifteen A are viharas.
These caves are datable to the pre-Christian era, the earliest among them being Cave tenth dating from the second century BC.
The second period of construction was administered during the rule of Emperor Harisena of the Vakataka dynasty. close to 20 cave temples were simultaneously built which resemble the modern-day monasteries with a sanctum at the rear end of the structure.
Though all the caves are interesting to observe, Cave first, second, sixteen, seventeen, nineteen, twenty-six are must-see attractions in Ajanta.
The caves are carved out of flood basalt rock of a cliff, a part of the Deccan Traps formed by successive volcanic eruptions at the top of the Cretaceous geological time.
The rock is layered horizontally, somewhat variable in quality. This variation within the rock layers required the artists to amend their carving methods plans in places.
The Ajanta Caves constitute ancient monasteries worship-halls of various Buddhist traditions carved into a 75-metre wall of rock.
The caves also present paintings depicting the past lives rebirths of Buddha, pictorial tales from Aryasura’s Jatakamala, rock-cut sculptures of Buddhist deities.
The majority of the caves are vihara halls with symmetrical square plans. to every vihara, the hall is attached smaller square dormitory cells turn over the walls.
The paintings within the Ajanta caves predominantly narrate the Jataka tales.
These are Buddhist legends describing the previous births of Buddha.
These fables embed ancient morals cultural lores that also are found within the fables legends of Hindu Jain texts.
The Jataka tales are exemplified through the life example sacrifices that Buddha made in hundreds of his past incarnations.
The Ajanta artworks provide a contrast between the spiritual life of monks who had given up all materialistic possessions versus the sensual life of those it considered materialistic, luxurious, symbols of wealth, leisurely high style.
Location – Near Jalgaon, Aurangabad.
Entrance Fee: Rs. 25 for Indians Rs. 250 for Foreigners.
Timings: 9 AM to 5 PM on all days except Mondays.