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Home >> Buddhist Destinations India >> Ajanta Caves

Ajanta Caves


Why would one go to caves, inhibit there, and leave it abandoned? That is a historical question but the present, nevertheless, is far more interesting to experience, visiting the caves of Nalanda, thought to be the masterpieces of Buddhist art and architecture and inhibited by the Buddhist monks for many centuries.

These caves are believed to see the rise and spread of both the two sects of Buddhism, the Hinyana and the Mahayana, and enough examples of architecture are available still in the caves. The 30 caves, including the unfinished ones, seem to carry a distinct charm and represent the true faces of the flourishing Buddhist architecture, art, and obviously the religious influence at that period of time.

The fact that these caves were inhibited by Buddhist monks and religious devotees for more than 800 years is, in itself, enough to support it become a UNESCO world heritage site. Even then, there are lots of other specimens to support its uniqueness and importance in archaeology as well as history.

Visiting these caves is like travelling back to the past.

The location
The caves are in the state of Marathas, Maharashtra, in the Aurangabad district. Located between Latitude 2032' North and Longitude: 7545'East. The caves are by the river Waghora, in the midst of the Sahyadri hills burried by thick forest all around.

Attractions
The Ajanta caves are important mainly to see the fine line of transfer of the Hinyana and the Mahayana sect, as for the fact he Hianyana did not worship any god or goddess but they used stupas, and other rock forms to represent Buddha. Mahayana on the other hand, used idols of people they worship. Interestingly, the caves include both Chaitya(Prayer Halls) and monasteries and have both types of architecture and art besides paintings and scriptures, of the two sects Hinyana and Mahayana. Caves numbered 8,9, 10, 12, 13 and 15 are of the older sect, Hinayana. Mahayana related vcaves are numbered 1, 2, 16, 17, 19 and 26 where, 19 and 26 are Chaityas.

There are some unsurpassable paintings in the caves 1 and 2, mainly depicting the Jataka Tales. Buddha preaching in sitting position is the other common example of sculptures. Cave 10 is also quite attractive for its Buddha images and the depiction of Jataka tales. Cave 16 and 17 are monasteries full with images of Jataka tales, child and youth of Buddha, the Sravasti tales etc and are good examples of architecture. Caves 1,2,3,5,6,8, 14, 15,16 and 17 are Viharas or monasteries, 19 and 26 are prayer halls while caves 20 to 25 were used for residential purposes.

Though all the caves are interesting to watch and noteworthy, if one has only a little time in hand caves, remember 1,2,16,17, 19 and 26 are must see.

Excursions

Ellora caves :Ellora caves too have some fantastic rock cut sculptures and is in the same district with that of Ajanta namely, Aurangabad. The caves are always rhymed with the Ajanta Caves for the architectural similarity and location. The cave is a symbol of representation of high tolerance of India from the ancient days, as well as pointing towards the common thread running through Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

Nasik : The green belt city of Maharashtra is well known for the 12-Year Mahakumbh and the varieties of fruits produced here. The city is related with Ramayana and is a very fast growing industrial destination in India. Shirdi, Trmbakeshwar, Dudhsagar waterfalls, Bhandardara, Jawahar, etc.

How to reach

By Air : Aurangabad, 99 km away is the nearest airport. Direct flights available from Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur etc.

By Rail : Aurangabad is nearest railhead, Jalgaon, 59 km away, is good for catching swanky trains.

By Road : Well-maintained roads link Ajanta to Mumbai, good buses are also available.


Buddhist Destinations India
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Buddhist Caves in India
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