Ajanta is the pride of Maharashtra. The rock-cut caves of the site illustrate the degree of skill and artistry that Indian craftsmen had achieved several hundred years ago.
The village of Ajanta is in the Sahyadri hills, about 99 kms, from Aurangabad; a few miles away in a mammoth horseshoe rock, are 30 caves overlooking a gorge, `each forming a room in the hill and some with inner rooms. All these have been carved out of solid rock with little more than a hammer and chisel and the faith and inspiration of Buddhism. Here, for the Buddhist monks, the artisans excavated Chaityas (chapels) for prayer and Viharas (monasteries) where they lived and taught. Many of the caves have the most exquisite detailed carvings on the walls, pillars and entrances as well as magnificent wall paintings.
The 30 caves of Ajanta were created over a span of some 600 years.
These caves were discovered by an Army Officer in the Madras Regiment of the British Army in 1819 during one of his hunting expeditions. Instantly the discovery became very famous and Ajanta attained a very important tourist destination in the world. The caves, famous for its murals, are the finest surviving examples of Indian art, particularly painting.
These caves are excavated in horse-shoe shaped bend of rock surface nearly 76 m in height overlooking a narrow stream known as Waghora. The location of this valley provided a calm and serene environment for the Buddhist monks who retreated at these secluded places during the rainy seasons. This retreat also provided them with enough time for furthering their religious pursuits through intellectual discourses for a considerably longer period.
Listing Of Caves
Phase I: 2nd century BC to 1 st century BC
Caves 9 & 10: Chaitya Halls or shrines
Caves 12 & 13: Viharas or monasteries
Phase II: 5 th century AD to 6 th century AD
Caves 19,26 & 29: Chaitya Halls or shrines
Caves 1-7, 11, 14-18, 20-25, 27 & 28 : Viharas or monasteries
3, 5, 8, 23-25, 28 & 2