- 110km :
wondrous cave temples are cut into the rocky sides of a dramatic
crescent-shaped gorge, at the head of which is a waterfall that drops
over the mountain rim in a series of seven steps to a pool far below -
the Saptakund. Dating back to the 2nd century B.C, they cover a span of
800 years where under royal patronage of ruling dynasties, professional
artists helped Buddhist monks to create magnificent murals narrating the
story of Buddha in his cycle of incarnations. Etched and painted in
vegetable and mineral dyes, the paintings have a langourous stylised
beauty and magical eloquence. The Ajanta Caves are a World Heritage
famous caves of Ajanta
Caves 1,2,16 and 17 have the best preserved paintings and required days,
not hours to appreciate. The magnificent depictions of the Bodhisattvas,
Avalokitesvara and Padmapaniin in Cave 1 are particularly well known.
A court scene in Cave number 1, possibly the story of conversion of
Nanda, a fellow prince like the Buddha, decided to join the Buddha's
monastic order. His dilemma was leaving his wife Sundari and pleasures
of princely life for one of austerity, sacrifice and discipline.
In Cave 2, ceiling and wall paintings illustrate events associated with
the Buddha's birth.
A cameo of a woman at her toilet is universal favorite. For instance, is
the scene of Buddha's birth showing his mother, Maya, standing in the
place garden at Lumbini. Also in the same cave is the scene from the
Mahajanaka Jataka, where the queen and her attendants tempt the
shipwrecked price with all the art of this world.
In Cave Number 7, a sculptured frieze of miracle of Sravasti, when the
Buddha multiplied himself a thousand times.
The paintings at Ajanta in Cave 17 depict stories from the Jatakas or
tales of the previous incarnations of the Buddha. The doorway in the
verandah of Cave 17, is a row of enormous couples above which is a row
of seated Buddhas. The raised right hand, with the palm facing the
viewer, is a symbol of abhaya, reassurance and protection.
Cave 19 at Ajanta is amongst the best surviving examples of a rock cut
chaitya griha. The elegant porch is topped by the distinctive
'horseshoe' shaped window, which is flanked by yakshas or guardians,
standing Buddha figures and elaborate decorative motifs.
The interior of Cave 19 is profusely carved with pillars, a monolithic
carved symbolic stupa and images of Buddha which heralded the
introduction of Mahayana phase. The story of Buddha life served as a
perfect example of philosophy of compassion. Born as a prince, young
Siddhartha renounced his wealth and position to find the meaning of
The Parinivana (ultimate enlightenment or liberation) came when Buddha
left the world- as depicted in the 7m (23ft) image of the reclining
Buddha in Cave number 26.
Ajanta provides a unique opportunity to study the early phases of
Buddhist sculpture, painting and architecture, which later influenced
artistic traditions in central Asia and Far east.
Ellora : 14 km
The famous rock cut caves temples of Ellora depict the Hindu, Buddhist
and Jain faiths, and were constructed between the 5th and 8th centuries
A.D. Of particular interest is the architectural marvel of the
monolithic Kailasa temple, carved out in the rocky cliffside from top to
bottom. In December, MTDC organises the Ellora festival of music and
dance at the Kailasa Temple. The Ellora Caves have been declared a World
The Caves Temples of Ellora
34 cave temples of Ellora can be divided into three groups and roughly
three periods: Buddhist, Hindu and Jain. The Buddhist caves came first,
about 200 BC - 600 AD followed by the Hindu 500 - 900 AD and Jain 800 -
Only 12 of the 34 caves are Buddhist, but even these incorporate Hindu
and Jain theme, demonstrating the gradual decline of Buddhism. The
Buddhist caves all belong to Mahayana phase of the religion and contain
of the religion and contain some of the most impressive images of
Buddha. The ceilings of the caves were carved and often painted with
geometric designs, while walls and pillars carried narrative sculpture
and murals pertaining to the life of the Buddha. Sculptured images in
the caves at Ellora are of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist deities and their
consorts, auspicious symbols of apsaras, tree nymphs, attendant of gods,
animal motif, tree and plants.
The first three caves, all dating to the seventh century are lofty,
pillared halls with carved Buddha images fashioned on a large scale.
Cave number 4, a vihara is two storeyed, but in rather poor condition
today. The pillars here have rather interesting pot and foliage motifs.
The tenth cave in this group is known as the Vishvakarma cave because ,
some say, it was so beautifully fashioned that it came to be known after
the artisan of the gods; other say it is called this because it is
popularly believed to have been great favorite of those belonging to the
Cave 11 was known for a long time as Do Tal (Two stories) to distinguish
it from the next cave which was called Teen Tal (three stories).
Three tiered Cave Number 12 known as Teen Tal, is a Buddhist chaitya or
prayer hall and vihara, or monastery. But it was subsequently discovered
that Do Tal was in fact Teen Tal and that the basement had been buried
by several centuries of earth.
The ultiate culmination of rock-cut architecture in terms of sheer
mastery of technique and dazzling conception, is Cave 16, better known
as the Kailasa temple.
Of the remaining caves in the Hindu series, Cave 21, known as Rameshwara
must be singled out for its beautiful sculpture. The goddesses Ganga,
Jamna and Parvati, and the gods Siva and Kartikeya all figure on the
Cave 29, Dhumar Lena, is said to be influenced by the pattern of caves
at Elephanta near Bombay. It is certainly amongst the most imposing on
the site and dates to the late sixth century.
Cave 30 is known as Chota Kailasa for rather obvious reasons. It is
rather stunted copy of cave16 but about a quarter of the original size.
Inside are images of the Tirthankaras and of Mahavira Jain on his Lion
Cave 32, the Indra Sabha, is so richly carved and decorated that it
occasionally become rather overwhelming. The sides of the temple are
covered with elaborate carving of Elephants, Lions and vases.
One of the most beautiful elements in the caves at Ellora is the variety
of carved pillars. The columns are all sturdy and have massive
proportions to suit the size and scale of the caves in which they
belong. Some pillars are plain, others have carved bases, capitals,
brackets and fluted shafts.
One of the most fascinating cities in the western India,
Aurangabad has a charm of its own. Reputed as the gateway to the famous
Ajanta an Ellora caves, the city offers a variety of tourist attractions
such as Panchakki, Bibi Ka Maqbara and others. A fast growing industrial
town in India, Aurangabad has successfully retained its glory over the
Daulatabad Fort : 7 km
Originally the mountainous Deogiri fortress, it was an old Hindu
stronghold, finally captured and plundered by deceit in the 13th
century. Made the capital of the Delhi Sultanate a 100 years later by
Tughlaq, it was the prime fortress of many succesive dynasties in the
Deccan. Daulatabad is famous for it's series of trick defences, secret
escape routes, 5 km long wall and artificial scarping. Important
monuments within the fort include the Jami Masjid - now the Bharat Mata
Mandir, the Chand Minar, Elephant Tank and Chini Mahal or Chinese
Location : Aurangabad