Recognized as the gems that represent Indian history displaying impressive artistry of the foregone era, the Ajanta and Ellora Caves consist of 64 rock-cut caves, located nearby from the city of Aurangabad. History states that the Ajanta caves were made between the second century BCE till 650 or 480 CE, whereas those of Ellora were made between the 5th century CE and 10th century CE. Today the caves are UNESCO World Heritage Site and are on the bucket list of travelers and history buffs from different parts of the world. So if they are on your bucket list as well, here’s a complete guide to making your trip stress-free.
How To Get There
The caves are situated in Northern Maharashtra which is around 400 kilometers from Mumbai and owing to their popularity are also easily accessible by various modes. Here are a few details for a hassle-free exploration.
- By train – The closest transportation service can be found via the Aurangabad railway stations. The caves of Ellora are only at a 45 minutes distance while those in Ajanta are 1.5 hours away. You can travel from Mumbai till Aurangabad in just 6 or 7 hours. The fastest train is the Dadar – Jalna Jan Shatabdi Express that takes around six hours and ten minutes. Once you reach the Aurangabad Railway Station, you can book a taxi from Aurangabad to Ajanta Ellora and reach your destination in no time.
- By Flight – You will need to travel to Aurangabad airport and the caves are at a distance of 100 km from the airport. The airport is well connected with major cities in India.
- By Road – Aurangabad is easily reachable via road from different neighboring places like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Aurangabad, and Ahmedabad. You may take a bus or travel in your car to the caves.
Key Attractions Of The Ajanta And Ellora Caves
The caves are historical and architectural marvels and are a treat to witness. Let us introduce you to these archaeological gemstones.
Ajanta Caves comprise 30 rock-cut caves, displaying a portion of the finest works of art and figures at any point recorded in Indian history. However, the ones you shouldn’t miss out on are Cave 1, Cave 2, Cave 4, and Cave 17.
Cave 1 is the standout amongst all the caves mainly because the artwork depicted on its walls is authentic. It has a grand doorway which is adorned with Bodhisattva murals and the sidewalls depict two important phases in Buddha’s life, the moment before his enlightenment and when he turned himself into many images. Cave 2’s ceiling has intricate abstract and mind-boggling designs of devils, birds, fruits, and flowers making it the highlight. one of the biggest religious communities in Ajanta Cave 4 is known to still give off a magical vibe, despite being an incomplete creation.
Comprising of 34 caves, having its unique, the Ellora Caves are a marvel to behold. It might not be possible for you to visit them all hence we recommend Cave 1, Cave 2, and Cave 16 especially if you are short on time and don’t want to miss out on the best ones.
Cave 1 a Buddhist temple also known as a Vihara and highlights 8 religious cells. Home to 12 ornate pillars and Lord Buddha seated on a lion Cave 2 is also an impressive location. A carving of Maitreya Buddha, along with Padmapani holding a lotus adorned its glorious doorway. Cave 16 or Kailesh temple is an important pilgrimage spot for the followers of Lord Shiva. The gopurams here which is a large pyramidal tower signify Mount Kailash which is the abode of Lord Shiva.
Things You Can Do On Your Visit
If you want to do things besides visiting the caves, here are a few fun things you can do on your visit.
Ajanta Ellora Festival
Organized annually in November The Ajanta and Ellora Festival by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation attracts travelers from across the world. Dance and music performances, increase the charm of the caves. The festival showcases the talent of the young folk and classical artists, along with the craftsmanship and architectural brilliance of the monuments in Aurangabad.
Splurge On Paintings
Shopping and travel go hand in hand, and the Ajanta and Ellora caves allow you plenty of opportunities to enjoy the joys of shopping. There are many open-air markets where you will come across beautiful Buddha sculptures handcrafted by the local artisans, along with semi-precious stones and silver ornaments, footwear, clothing.
Few Tips For A Wholesome Trip
- Make sure you have a guide when you are exploring because every painting and sculpture in the Ajanta and Ellora has a story and without one, you will not be able to appreciate their significance.
- Inside the Kailasa Temple at Ellora and climbing up the hill around it will let you be privy to an excellent view.
- When visiting Ajanta, ask your driver to drop you at the viewpoint and meet you at the car park. Walk downhill from the viewpoint and enter cave eight. From there, walk right to the end and start at cave 28. This will enable you to see nearly half the caves without the crowds
- Many of the caves are quite dark and the lighting is poor so make sure to carry a flashlight.
- Reach the caves early, preferably before 10 am to avoid crowds.
Experience Beauty Of The Wonder Years
The best time to visit Ajanta Ellora Caves is June to March as the pleasant weather makes the exploration a delight. Till September the region receives an average of plenty of rain showers, which also make for a beautiful day. The caves have a historical significance which attracts tons of history buffs and if you wish to connect to the past these caves make the perfect destination. So the next time you wish to experience the deep-rooted history of India, do visit the Ajanta and Ellora caves for a fulfilling experience.