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Ajanta Caves

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Trip back in time and rediscover the multi-hued facets of India. You will simply fall in love with what awaits you !

Trip back in time and rediscover the multi-hued facets of India. You will simply fall in love with what awaits you !

Trip back in time and rediscover the multi-hued facets of India. You will simply fall in love with what awaits you !
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Location : Aurangabad (100 km), Maharashtra

About Ajanta Caves
Ajanta Caves in Deccan plateau Maharashtra IndiaJohn Smith, a British Captain stumbled upon the Ajanta caves in the year 1819. The caves are carved out of the volcanic lava of the Deccan. Set in picturesque surroundings, the Ajanta Caves are the masterpieces of the Buddhist architecture. The caves are located at a distance of 104 km from Aurangabad and 52 km from Jalgaon railway station. The Ajanta Caves are a collection of 30 caves counting the unfinished ones. The caves are open for the visitors from 09 hours to 17 hours except Mondays. Entry fee for Indians who are above 15 years is Rs 10.00 and for foreigners it is Rs. 250 per head. Free entries are provided on Fridays. October to March is the best time to visit the caves.

History
The history of the Ajanta Caves dates back from 200 BC to 250 AD. As John Smith was on a hunting expedition, he chanced upon these fantastic collection of monastic caves. The Ajanta caves can be divided into two categories namely the Mahayana and the Hinayana caves. These two groups of caves have a gap of around four centuries between them. The excavation of the Hinayana Caves occurred during the rulership of the Vakatakas and the Guptas. The inscriptions relate that cave 16 was dedicated to the Buddhist Sangha by Varahadeva, the minister of the Vakatakas king. The image of Lord Buddha in cave 4 was gifted by some Abhayanandi from Maharashtra.

Architecture
The Ajanta Caves are an epitome of Buddhist architectural brilliance. As per the construction, the caves fall into two groups- Chaitya or the prayer hall and Vihara or monastery. Cave nos. 9, 10, 19, 26 and 29 are all prayer halls while the remaining 25 caves are all monasteries. 2 Chaitya halls and 4 monasteries fall into the Hinayana Phase caves. The Mahayana Phase caves include 3 Chaityas and 11 Viharas. Cave 1 is considered to be one of the finest monasteries. The cave, in question, bears exquisite interior paintings. The Bodhisatvas namely Padampani and Vajrapani add astound beauty to the ante chamber doorway. The cave walls depict various scenes from the Jataka tales such as Shibi Jataka, Mahajanka Jataka, Champeyya Jataka etc. Cave 2, a monastery, has beautifully painted ceiling. The paintings on the ceilings include various designs, geometric patterns, processions of devotees and miniature pictures. The Chaitya halls of the Hinayana period include cave nos. 9, 10, 12 and 15A. Cave 10 dates back to the 2nd century BC and is among the first excavations at the site. The walls of this cave depicts scenes from the Sama Jataka and the Chhaddanta Jataka. The Viharas of the Mahayana phase caves include cave nos. 14, 15 and 16.

Other Attractions
The Nirvana Buddha and 26 Cave Ajanta » Cave 26 - The cave belongs to the Mahayana Phase and is a Chaitya or prayer hall. The key attraction of the cave is the reclining image of Lord Buddha symbolising his moment of death. The cave also has a Stupa with an image of Buddha in a pavillion.

» Cave 17 - The cave falls into the Mahayana category and is an exquisite monastery. The walls of the cave bear beautiful paintings and the ceiling has the pictorial representations of celestial musicians and maidens. Various gods and goddesses adorn the doorway.

» Cave 16 - The cave is a Mahayana monastery. The cave bears an exquisite painting that shows the fainting of princess Sundari as she learnt that her husband was going to be a monk.

» Cave 2 - Cave 2 is an enchanting Mahayana monastery. The frontage of the cave depicts the king of Naga along with his entourage. There is a glorious Mandala inside dominating the ceiling held up by demons. The ceiling is well decorated with birds, fruits, flowers and other abstract designs.

» Cave 1 - Of all the monastery caves at Ajanta, cave 1 is the most popular and the finest. Two great Bodhi Sattavas adorn the doorway to the ante-chamber. The antechamber's sidewalls depict scenes from Buddha's life.



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