Ajanta Caves, Ajanta & Ellora

Ajanta Caves

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in Ajanta & Ellora
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108 Ratings & 51 Reviews

About Ajanta Caves

88%
voted as clean
    • Entry: Paid
    • Not Allowed: Pets
    • Timings - Opening & Closing: Monday - Friday: 9.00 AM - 6.00 PM , Saturday: 9.00 AM - 6.00 PM , Sunday: 9.00 AM - 6.00 PM , Public Holidays: 9.00 AM - 6.00 PM

The Ajanta Caves showcase the Buddhist stories of the period between 200 B.C. and 650 A.D. This group of caves was discovered by few British Officers, who went for a tiger hunt in the site.

There are 29 caves in Ajanta, constructed by some Buddhist monks, using tools like chisel and hammer. These caves were habited by the Buddhist monks, who imparted knowledge and performed rituals in the Viharas and the Chaityas, the age-old seats of learning.  The paintings and sculptures of the caves portray stories from the Jataka tales. The caves also feature images of princesses and nymphs.

Cave One:

Ajanta Cave One is built on the eastern end of the horse-shoe shaped scarp. This cave features intricate carvings on its façade, depicting the life of Buddha. Several sculptures are engraved on the entablature and ridges, along with the decorative motifs.

The cave has a front-court that comprises cells fronted by pillared lobby on both the sides. It also features a porch that has simple cells on both the ends and three doorways. In order to brighten up the interiors, two square windows have been carved between the doorways.

Inside the cave, each wall is around 12 metres long and 6.1 metres high. The ceiling inside the cave is supported by twelve pillars that make the aisles along the walls spacious. Towards the rear wall, a shrine has been carved to seat the image of the Buddha in the Dharmachakra Pravartana mudra.

All the walls in the cave are covered with paintings depicting didactic, devotional and ornamental scenes. The scenes are based on the stories mentioned in the Jatakas, which revolve around the life of Gautama Buddha.

Cave Two:

Ajanta Cave Two, which lies adjacent to Cave One, is renowned for the paintings on its walls, ceilings and pillars. This cave has pillared lobby on both the ends and a porch, which is supported by pillars that are ornamented with design. The paintings on the ceilings and walls depict the tales of Jatakas, which are stories of the life of Buddha in his former existence as Bodhisattva.

The doorway on the rear wall of the porch leads to a hall, which features four colonnades. These colonnades support the ceiling and stand in the centre of the hall surrounding a square. Capitals on the rock-beams that are kept above and below the colonnades are carved in ornamental, human, animal, vegetative and semi-divine forms.

Except the floor, every surface of the cave is painted with narratives of the Jatakas tales, to teach visitors about Buddha's preaching and his life. Visitors can read the narratives, which depict various episodes of his life.

Cave Six:

Ajanta Cave Six is the first important cave of the Mahayana phase. This cave is supported by octagonal pillars that do not bear any capital or base. The pillars are extended at the end of the front and the rear aisles, which allow pilgrims to round about the Buddha's throne.

This cave also features an image of Buddha sitting with his feet squat on the base, in a rigid pose. The porch doorway of this cave has carvings of female figures. The passage between the entrance and the interior of the building houses an intricately carved medallion.

In the middle of the cave there is a painting of Bhikshu with Lotus, which belongs to the 5th century. The painting depicts round bellied worshipper, who has calm expression on his face. Cave 5 and cave 7 are located adjacent to this cave and are known for T-shaped porched doorway and verandah, respectively.

Cave Nine:

Ajanta Cave Nine is known among tourists for its Chaitya gathering hall and two early paintings, namely the Frieze of Animals and Herdsmen Naga Worshippers. This cave also features Giant Horseshoe Window on the façade. The carving of this window and pillars are similar to that of wooden structures in earlier times.

Cave Ten:

Ajanta Cave Ten was constructed at the same time as cave nine. This cave houses a Chaitya gathering hall, which is 28.5X2.3 m wide and 11 m high. The cave also has a stupa shrine, which is surrounded by an ambulating passage. Visitors in this cave can see the famous ‘King with His Retinue’ paintings that are similar to the relief carvings at Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh.

The painting on the left wall depicts King worshipping the Buddha tree, along with his group of advisor.  On the other hand, the right wall has series of paintings, one of which depicts the Shada-danta Jataka and Buddha in his elephant incarnation. Right wall of the cave also has one painting that shows Elephants in the jungle, including six-tusked elephant, which is supposed to be Buddha in his previous incarnation.  

Another painting on this wall depicts a princess seated on a stool, who faints after looking at the six-tusked elephant brought to the king. In the same painting, next scene shows that the queen wants this elephant killed and when the tusks of the killed elephant are being brought before the court, she faints.

This cave also has painting of Bodhisattva on the pillar, which shows two monks kneel in front of Buddha. This painting also has flying angels above his head, indicating that the monks are being lifted to the heaven. Another painting in this cave depicts Buddha and a one-eyed monk.

Cave Eleven:

Ajanta Cave Eleven is themed around the transition from Hinayana to Mahayana. This cave houses one of the earliest images of Buddha at Ajanta. In this cave, Buddha shrine is attached to a stupa, which depicts a compromise between stupa worship and image worship. Religious significance of this cave is that it depicts the transition from the earlier Hinayana phase to the later Mahayana phase of worship.

Cave Sixteen:

Ajanta Cave Sixteen is known for its porch doorway that has images of two Goddesses carved on the pilasters. This cave features life-size figure of Buddha seated with his feet down the base. The large veranda in the cave leads to the hall, which houses six cells on each side.

The inner shrine of this cave houses a Giant Statue of Buddha in Abhaya Mudra, which is also called the teaching gesture. Painting on the left wall of this cave is considered to be one of the finest paintings in the world art. This painting depicts the wife of Gautama's cousin, Nanda, who is suffering from the shock after hearing the news of her husband becoming a monk.

Some of the other paintings on the walls of this cave include Buddha with a begging bowl, Prince Siddharth stretching the bow and descents of Buddha from the Tushita heaven. Another painting in this cave, called the Sutasama Jataka, narrates the story of the previous incarnation of Bodhisattva and the son of the King of Indraprastha, Sutasama.

Cave Seventeen:

Ajanta Cave Seventeen features a porch doorway, which has painting of seven past lives of Buddha with Maitreya. The painting on the left door is entirely different from that on the right door. Doorway of this cave is T-shaped and has an image of goddess supported by pilasters.

The shrine in this cave is supported by pillars, which are carved as well as painted. This shrine has image of Buddha seated in the Yogasana and hands held in the Dharmachakra Mudra. The image also has Bodhisattva attendants holding fly-whisks and dwarfs bringing garlands.

The floral work and geometric paintings in the cave depict that this cave was painted in the transition phase between Hinayana and Mahayana. Wall of this cave has a painting of Apsaras and the Flying Spirits floating across the sky. The popular painting of Indra and the Apsaras is among the major attractions of the cave. Another famous painting in the cave shows a king and queen with their attendants participating in a royal procession.

Painting that depicts another version of the Shada-danta Jataka, as that in cave 10, can also be seen in this cave. Wall of the cave is also adorned with painting of Prince Sinhala, who conquered Lanka and a scene showing the return of Buddha as a beggar to meet his wife and child.

Cave Eighteen:

Ajanta Cave Eighteen is famous for the painting of princess looking at her mirror. In this painting an Indian woman is shown grooming herself in front of a mirror. Another scene in this painting depicts the woman after she has done her grooming and her female attendants holding a tray. In this painting, a little child is looking at the woman from below.

Cave Nineteen:

Ajanta Cave Nineteen basically houses a Chaitya gathering hall, along with disfigured paintings and sculptures. The Chaitya gathering hall in this cave has intricate carving and pilasters. In the centre of this hall, there is a big stupa, on the base of which dancing dwarfs are carved.

Under the arched Chaitya window, the sculpture of solemn Buddha is carved. Below the Buddha are the carvings of urchins, who have a cheerful expression. Another attraction of this cave is the statue of Standing Buddha atop the tall stupa, which is crowned with an umbrella that touches the roof. The painting of Naga king with his queen and attendants is another major attraction of the cave.

Cave Twenty One:

Ajanta Cave Twenty One also features a Chaitya gathering hall that dates back to 5th and 6th century AD. The verandah (gallery) of the hall opens into a court, which comprises colonnade that is supported by 26 pillars to form aisles. This hall also houses a cylindrical stupa with a passage for circumambulation.

The left wall of the cave has a large statue of dead Buddha, which is known as Buddha in Parinirvana. On the same wall there is a relief sculpture called ‘Temptation of Buddha’, by the demon Mara.

Cave Twenty Four:

Ajanta Cave Twenty Four is known for its unfinished pillars that are situated in the front of an aisle. This cave is ideal for learning about the evolution of the pillar style, as visitors can find simple earliest pillars as well as complex octagonal pillars.

This cave also features pilaster at right end of the porch, which has beautiful carvings on them. The carvings at this cave are incomplete as patronage at Ajanta was ceased in the late 7th century.

Cave Twenty Six:

Ajanta Cave Twenty Six dates back to 5th century and has the Chaitya Horseshoe arch where various images of the Buddha are sculpted. These caves have circumambulatory passage, walls of which feature paintings that depict Sravasti Miracle.

Another painting that forms a major attraction is of the Nagas, Nanda and Anupananda, who are shown holding a stem of lotus. The stem of lotus flower has been depicted as the cosmic axis on which the Buddha is seated.

Inside the caves, the first pillar on the left side has a carving of goddess standing under a fully blossomed tree. Furthermore, the caves also feature Buddha head with curly hair and large ear lobes.

Cave Twenty Seven:

Ajanta Cave Twenty Seven boasts a Naga Dwarpala on the outer flank of the shrine. This cave also features a porched doorway, which resembles the shrine doorway of cave 2.


What travellers are saying about Ajanta Caves

Experience scale
  • Excellent 30
  • Very Good 14
  • Good 4
  • Average 3
  • Below Average 0
  • Poor 0
  • Terrible 0
Travellers recommend
  • Best Time:  During Day
  • Length of visit:  More than 3hrs
Facilities available
  • Food available for purchase
  • Bathroom facilities
  • Camera/Video allowed
  • Wearing of shoes/footwear allowed
  • Lockers/Storage

51 traveller reviews for Ajanta Caves

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Parag Joshi

  • Connoisseur
  • Parag Joshi
  • Lives in Pune
  • 54 photos
  • 45 Reviews
  •  31 helpful votes
  •  33034 readers

"Nicely carved architecture"

  • 7.0/7
  • Posted Mar 3, 2017
These caves are 100 km from Aurangabad. When one reaches caves entrance one has to take bus from gate to caves as it is 4km distance. There are total 30 caves in there out of which 1, 2, 15, 16, 26 are most important. One has to walk 4 km to watch all caves and if one can't walk this much they can hire doli.
Overall this place is very beautiful with scenic nature and nice architecture one will ever see.
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Ashwathi Kaimal

  • Connoisseur
  • Ashwathi Kaimal
  • Lives in Mumbai
  • 5 photos
  • 30 Reviews
  •  115 helpful votes
  •  52072 readers

"Excellent"

  • 7.0/7
  • Posted Jan 8, 2017
The whole trip was very overwhelming. Even if you have a personal vehicle, the travel to Ajanta is by State transport buses.
The climb to Ajanta is a bit difficult based on your age and health. But there are Palkhi systems available for 1000/person.
Once you have reached the 1st cave then no more motivation is required to go further. Cameras with flash are not allowed. Although I felt the lighting provided inside was poor, I believe it spoils the paintings and that is why I recommend to carry a good torch. You do not realize how time passes as each and every one of the cave is exceptionally splendid.
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Rudraswamy   Y j

  • Scout
  • Rudraswamy Y j
  • Lives in Bangalore
  • 4 Reviews
  •  4 helpful votes
  •  3709 readers

"Incredible india - Ajantha Caves crafted using hammer and chisel"

  • 7.0/7
  • Posted Dec 30, 2016
VISIT TO AJANTHA TO EXPLORE CAVES OF INDIA!

I read about mysterious caves of the world. Cave of the Ghost at Venezuela and Cave of the Swallows at Mexico were wonderful naturally formed ones. The caves at Ellora, Ajantha, Badami, Junagadh, Elephanta, Udayagiri and Khaneri are distinct from other caves across the world in the sense that they are man-made.

Last year I visited Badami Cave temples. A week back I visited Ellora and Ajantha.

Ajanta caves are rich in paintings and sculpture. All around there were 30 caves in Ajanta. The paintings at Ajanta dates back from 200 Century BC to 6th Century AD and still preserved in excellent conditions.

While walking on the pathway outside Ajanta, they look like the simple caves carved out in the hill. But they aren't just caves;inside big rooms with many pillars and carvings of deities. The caves at Ajanta are all Buddhist, while the caves at Ellora are a mixture of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain. The Japanese government funds the maintenance of the Buddhist Ajanta caves, so they're in noticeably better condition than neglected Ellora.

I wonder why the caves were scooped out on this particular horseshoe rock, in the middle of the Deccan Plateau. And secondly I am perplexed why colored paintings inside caves although Gautama Buddha (600 BC) was against painting and Sculpture. Finally it took 500 years to scoop the entire rock system where it took 15 to 20 generation of people to finish the task. How the architecture information transmitted among generation to generation.

Advice to travellers:

Apart from water seepage through the rocks and insects eating into the fibrous base of the ancient paintings and visitors kept touching the painted surfaces. My serious concern is radiations of camera, torch and Mobile phone may damage the paintings inside the caves. My humble request to you all, do not take photograph inside caves.

Things you must carry:

Do not carry water bottles. Filtered water facility is good. Carry Fruits of required quantity. Do not carry plastic bags.
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Arun sivam

  • Tourist
  • Arun sivam
  • 4 Reviews
  •  257 readers

"Must visit once in life time"

  • 7.0/7
  • Posted Dec 5, 2016
Ajanta and Ellora caves are very beautiful. It's a must visit once in lifetime. You need to walk and climb lot of steps. Take good amount of water and eatables. Would not recommend to go with old people or kids as there is lot of walking to be done and it would tire them out. Kids less than 8yrs might not enjoy. Bargain very well if you want to buy souvenir. It takes minimum 3hrs in Ellora and 5hrs in Ajanta. On the way to Ellora is Daulatabad. It is also worth visiting. Keep Daulatabad, Ellora and Aurangzeb tomb for one day and next day you can visit Ajanta, Bibi ka (mini Taj Mahal). Avoid going in summer. If you are wearing shoes then wear one that is easy to remove as in some caves they ask to remove shoes.
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Bhakti Karkare

  • Scout
  • Bhakti Karkare
  • Lives in Pune
  • 12 Reviews
  •  3 helpful votes
  •  3808 readers

"Beautiful day trip to the beautiful caves"

  • 6.0/7
  • Posted Jan 25, 2016
I went to see Ajanta Caves last year during Winters. The caves are beautiful and overwhelming. Take lots of water and food items. A good camera will always help. Also carry a lot of sunscreen. Even in Winters its pretty hot there. Wear comfortable shoes as well. You will be enchanted by the fact that way back in time, somebody carved those beautiful caves!!
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  • 2 votes

Majid Shaikh

  • Tourist
  • Majid Shaikh
  • Lives in Jalgaon
  • 2 Reviews
  •  1 helpful vote
  •  954 readers

"Great place to visit in Summer"

  • 7.0/7
  • Posted Jan 12, 2016
Ajanta Caves are awesome to visit in Summer. If you are addicted to explore new places you should must visit this place in life time.
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  • 1 vote

Pooja Mathur

  • Tourist
  • Pooja Mathur
  • Lives in Delhi
  • 1 Review
  •  721 readers

"Oldest caves with heavy religious paintings"

  • 5.0/7
  • Posted Jan 9, 2016
These are one of the oldest caves (2nd century) of our country, one of the finest work I have seen. All the paintings show heavy religious influence and centre around Buddha. The painting are executed on a ground of mud- plaster in the tempera technique. These are very marvellous worth watching also the weather was so awesome. But if you are going in summer then you have to carry water.
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Sagar Wani

  • Scout
  • Sagar Wani
  • Lives in Kolhapur
  • 1 Review
  •  732 readers

"Good place with historical works and arts"

  • 6.5/7
  • Posted Jan 5, 2016
Good place for visiting a historical works and arts. Also waterfall is attractive. Wide mountain range and beautiful nature. Housing facility and good condition of toilets are also available.
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Diljit  Durga

  • Scout
  • Diljit Durga
  • Lives in Kurukshetra
  • 1 Review
  •  664 readers

"Historical Caves"

  • 7.0/7
  • Posted Dec 30, 2015
This cave is full historical, we see this cave with my wife. In this cave there are too many murties in it, when we go there its very beautiful scene we enjoy our tour. I recommend to my friends and family to see this cave.
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Kadir Shaikh

  • Scout
  • Kadir Shaikh
  • Lives in Aurangabad
  • 5 Reviews
  •  2727 readers

"Really good to visit"

  • 5.5/7
  • Posted Dec 28, 2015
This place is really good to visit to! It's near to Aurangabad and can be reached within hours. The caves are situated in the greenery of the nature. I would love to visit again.
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