Back in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, the first Buddhists cave appeared in Ajanta. This trend will extend to the Gupta period in the 5th and 6th centuries AD. The much later caves were more richly decorated than the original group. For several centuries, the paintings and sculptures in Ajanta influenced the India and Java. They are considered masterpieces of the Buddhist religious art.

Ajanta Caves
Ajanta Caves

Back in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, the first Buddhists cave appeared in Ajanta. This trend will extend to the Gupta period in the 5th and 6th centuries AD. The much later caves were more richly decorated than the original group. For several centuries, the paintings and sculptures in Ajanta influenced the India and Java. They are considered masterpieces of the Buddhist religious art.

The caves and their paintings and sculptures are an exceptional testament to the evolution of Buddhism and Indian Art and their place in intellectual and religious circles in India is undoubtedly the greatest.

Location

The caves are located 104 kilometers from Aurangabad, 52 kilometers from Jalgoan Railway Station and 100 kilometers north east of Ellora. The caves were carved from Deccan in the Sahyadri Hills and are set in the scenic and idyllic sylvan surroundings. The caves contain painting and sculptures depicting Buddha. They are considered to be the classical art of India.

History

There are 29 caves in total in the Ajanta cave systems. They are said to have been carved in 100 BC. The caves would later be abandoned in the AD650 in favor of Ellora. Of the 29 caves, 24 were monasteries and 5 were temples. The monasteries were the residences of some 200 monks and artisans. Gradually, the caves were abandoned by the locals until they were rediscovered by the British in the 1819.

How to get there

The Ajanta caves meander around the Waghora River. They are accessible by road that runs through the cliffs to the caves. Each of the caves can be accessed by a stairway at the edge of the water.

Attractions worth noting

You are well advised to start off your tour with the 5 temples or the Chaitya-grihas. They are to be found on caves 9,10,19,26 and 29. Also worth noting is the monastic complexes, also called the viharas. You are especially advised to check out the doorways that are surmounted by horse shoe shaped bay. The ground plan of the monastery is basilical and features naves from the side aisles.

Whatever else you do, make sure you get to visit the beautiful caves of India...It will take you back not only to the Indian culture but also to the Persian art.


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