Treasures at Ajanta Caves, Aurangabad, Maharashtra

25th Dec 2007 at Ajanta caves. Aurangabad to Ajanta caves a distance of 106 kms, it took us around one and half hours. The taxi goes only till the foothill; we had to rush to catch a bus from there to the caves a distance of 4 km. It was Tuesday. Since Ajanta caves are closed to public on Monday and the day being 25th Dec, tourists were pouring in huge numbers. We spent good three and half hours there.
The Ajanta caves is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are 30 caves, only the first 26 caves are open to public, caves 27, 28, 29 and 30 are inaccessible. We were told they were incomplete too. No flash photography and video recording permitted. Initially I was quite disappointed for not being able to capture the paintings. Too many flashes would heat up the paintings and the deterioration would be fast, they said. There is seepage of water in the mountain walls, that too was destroying the paintings little by little.

Thankfully we had two torches so we could view the paintings part by part. The interior lighting provided inside the cave is not sufficient. Caves are maintained well and clean, no footwear permitted inside.

Bodhisatva Padmapani-the most famous painting of Ajanta caves. Sadly this is the maximum I could capture in my lens.Cave 2 similar to cave 1, has lovely painted ceilings, wall paintings depict the legend of Buddha’s birth.Work in these 30 monastic caves and prayer halls started in 2nd century, Buddhism was at its peak then. Estimated to be completed in 5th century.

Cave 4 is the largest monastery(Vihara) of Ajanta caves. It has 28 pillars with beautiful designs, sculpted images and paintings on walls depicting the story of life of Buddha.
Cave 5. An image of Buddha in Sanctum. The picture left is the sculpture of river goddess standing on a crocodile.
Cave 6 is the only double storeyed Vihara. Images of Buddha in Abhay Mudra. This Vihara has the unique musical pillars.

…numerous Buddha figures in various studies…(Bhagwan Buddha appeared in thousand forms at a time in Sravasti)

Cave 8 was closed. Inside cave 9. This is a Hianayana chaitya cave. There were plenty of holes on the floors of the caves like this picture below.Probably they served as pallets or they were filled with water to reflect light to light up the interiors of dark caves. There is no image of Buddha in the Stupa.

Cave 10 is similar to cave 9 and is the oldest of the Chaityas.

Caves 16 and 17 has beautiful paintings. They are regarded as Mahayana monuments.The stairway in the picture left leads down to the river. This may have been the approach to the temples those days.
The remnants of beautiful paintings on the ceilings ….and the partial photograph of “Wheel of Dharma”. Of all the 30 caves only four 1, 2, 16 and 17 are entirely covered with
paintings. The Jataka tales, life story of Lord Buddha and a variety of other subjects all depicted in detail.With time these precious frescos will dissolve into the walls…but until then everybody should visit these timeless wonders at least once.
Cave 18 is the smallest one with just an water tank.
Cave 19 is one of the biggest Chaitya hall of the Mahayana period. The facades are carved with large Buddha figures.
The scuptures on the just above are that of Nagaraj and Nagrani. The one on left is the Dharmachakra Pravartan Mudra.

There are large number of stone figures inside the cave 19. It is also called “the sculptor’s treasure chest” by the historians.

Cave 20 has attractive sculptures on the verandah pillars.

Caves 21 to 25 are incomplete.One of them may have been a dining room with raised platforms in rows.

There are beautiful designs like this in each of the pillars.
This is the cave 26. The Mahayana Chaitya- Griha. There is a big hall. This cave is also full of sculptures like cave 19.

To the left of the hall is a 7m long statue of reclining Buddha.

View of Waghora river from the caves. We spent three and half hours here, going in and out of the carved and painted caves feeling proud of India’s rich and eloquent history,
More information at: Ajanta Caves
Getting there:
By air- Chikalthana airport at Aurangabad 106kms.
By Rail – From Jalgaon railway station 59kms.
By road – From Mumbai 392kms. Taxis and autorikshaws are available.
Where to stay:
MTDC Holiday resort: Location: Station road, Aurangabad
The Ambassador Ajanta: http://www.ambassadorindia.com/

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3 Responses to “Treasures at Ajanta Caves, Aurangabad, Maharashtra

  • Your pics are also treasures! Thanks for sharing.

  • Indrani,
    Thank-you for letting me into your blog. Had a fantastic journey through the caves (oops! not caves, temples of art if i may say so!) sitting in Bangalore. I have always been planning a trip there. Your blog has inspired me to make it happen! Great work and thanks for sharing!
    Shubhangi

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    Genial brief and this mail helped me alot in my college assignement. Gratefulness you on your information.

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