Ajanta Caves are one of the most magnificent Buddhist caves in the whole of India. They are situated at a distance of approximately 100 km from Aurangabad and 40 km from Jalgaon. Counted amongst the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Maharashtra, these caves have been found to date back to the 2nd century BC. There are approximately 30 caves at the site of Ajanta, of which cave number are 9, 10, 19, 26 and 29 are chaitya-grihas. The rest of the caves have been found to comprise of monasteries.
Ajanta Caves were discovered in 1819 AD and some of the paintings
discovered inside them were made between 5th and 7th century AD. Almost
each and every painting found inside the premises of these caves centers
around Buddhist religion. Some of them portray Lord Buddha, some
Bodhisattvas, while some other are based on the Jatakas tales and
incidents from the life of Lord Buddha. Mud-plaster ground, built as per
the tempera technique, forms the base for the paintings seen at Ajanta.
Situated far away from inhabitation, amidst isolated surroundings,
these caves were built in the middle of a huge rock. The main aim behind
the construction of the Ajanta Caves was to provide a dwelling and
praying place for the Buddhist monks, who were dedicated towards the
mission of spreading the principles of Buddhism throughout the world.
All of them have been carved with precision and adorned with exquisite
architectural details. The sculptures seen here seem to be the result of
These caves have also been found to be ornamented with scenes that
depict the semi-mythological history. One can find a few paintings based
on Greek and Roman compositions and proportions. Then, there are some
others that can be said to resemble Chinese style. However, the majority
of them continue to be based on an Indian style, seen nowhere else in
the country. One can easily divide the Ajanta Caves into two parts, on
the basis of the time period when they were constructed.
The older caves situated at Ajanta were constructed centuries before
the birth of Christ and belong to the time when the Hinayana sect of
Buddhism was flourishing in India. The second group caves date to
somewhere around the later part of 2nd century AD, by which time
Buddhism had been divided into two different sects. This time period can
be said to be the one, after the fourth General Council was held under
the rule of the great king, Kanishka. Whenever you are in Maharashtra,
make sure to visit these awesome caves.