Ajanta and Ellora Caves Tourism
Ajanta and Ellora caves are magnificent works of architecture and represent finest example of ancient rock-cut caves. These caves showcase a perfect blend of Jain, Buddhist, and Hindu culture and are embellished with splendid fresco paintings, carvings, and sculptures. The hand carvings on the walls of these caves are considered to be the best-known example of ancient Indian architecture.
Ajanta Caves is situated 99 km away from the city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra and Ellora Caves lies 15 km to the West of the city. Ajanta Caves was used as a retreat by the Buddhist monks and hence, you will find many Buddhist shrines scattered within the complex. Similarly, many Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain sites are present in Ellora Caves. The Ajanta caves have 29 sites which were constructed between 2nd century BC and 6th century AD and the Ellora Caves have 34 sites which were built between the 6th and 11th century AD.
These caves have now been nominated as a World Heritage Sites by UNESCO and are also one of the top-rated tourist destinations in India. Interestingly, these rock caves are hand-carved and were built under the direction of rulers of ancient times. Nestled within the thick tropical rainforest, the most visited site in this region is the Kailash Temple. You will be thrilled to know that it is the single largest monolithic structure in the world.
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History of Ajanta and Ellora Caves
Ajanta and Ellora Caves are the most beautiful caves in the country, adorned with beautiful paintings and sculptures that represent the finest forms of Indian classical art. Once you walk past the rock carvings and different sites, you will get a whole new set of experience of ancient India.
These caves date back to 2nd century BC and 6th century AD. There are 29 cave sites in Ajanta Caves that comprise of various paintings and sculptures depicting instances from Buddhist scriptures and Jakata Tales. Five out of 29 caves are Chaityagrihas and rest are Viharas. The caves belong to two different periods of Buddhism, the earlier Hinayana period which lasted between 2nd century BC and 1st century AD; and the later Mahayana period from the 5th century AD to 6th century AD.
Ellora Caves constitutes 34 caves that represent a perfect amalgamation of Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist culture. It is also famous across the globe for a temple named Kailash Temple, which is carved out from a single large monolithic rock. The 12 caves comprise of Viharas (monasteries) and shrines of Bodhisattva Saints. The most popular cave is the Chaitya Hall, also known as Carpenter’s Cave. A humongous statue of Lord Buddha, as tall as 15 feet, is installed in the middle of Chaitya Hall.
If you want to experience how it feels to travel back in time then you should visit Ajanta and Ellora Caves. The most striking feature of these caves is the architecture and even today it is near to impossible to replicate such architectural style.
Restaurants and Local Food in Ajanta and Ellora Caves
The restaurants around the city of Aurangabad offer a wide range of scrumptious North Indian and Hyderabadi cuisine as the city was under the reign of Mughals and Nizams in the past. You should try the delicious Nawabi biryani, which is offered by most of the restaurants in the region. Aurangabad is known for its non-vegetarian cuisines such as kebabs and tandoori chicken.
One day travel Itinerary
You can explore both the caves in one day, however, it is not advisable to do that as you will miss out on the real essence of enjoying the caves. The caves are situated quite far from the main city and hence, requires a significant amount of travelling time, especially if you want to travel to Ajanta Caves. Moreover, you should travel to the caves anytime between Wednesday and Sunday. This is because Ajanta caves are closed on Monday and Ellora Caves are closed on Tuesday.
Nonetheless, you can still hire a private taxi and explore the caves in one day. In order to reach Ajanta Caves, start from Aurangabad early morning around 5:30. The caves open at 8 am sharp and you will be there within two and a half hours.
You can explore the place for two hours and leave for Ellora caves by 10:30. You need to travel to Aurangabad city first and then head to the caves after lunch. It will take around half an hour to travel to this place from the city. You will reach Ellora Caves by three and then you can spend your time exploring the beautiful shrines and sculpture in the monument complex.
Two Day Travel Itinerary
Two days are more than enough to explore both the caves via public transport. In this way, you will save on the additional cost of hiring a private taxi.
Day 1: On the first day you can visit Ellora Caves. This place is well-connected with deluxe state bus services that start from Aurangabad Railway Station Road sharp at 9:30 am. These luxurious bus services also provide the passengers with an opportunity to explore other interesting tourist sites in Aurangabad. Once you are done exploring the caves, you can head back to your hotel in Aurangabad and take rest. Alternatively, you can explore the local market and shop a few traditional items.
Day 2: Earmark the next day to explore Ajanta Caves. You can take a bus from Aurangabad Central Bus Station and it will take around three hours to reach the caves. You should carry enough water and snacks to much on while the journey.
The bus will drop you at Ajanta Caves Road Entrance. From here you will have to interchange and take another local bus to the main entrance of the caves. It will hardly take 10 minutes to reach the caves.