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Ajanta and Ellora Caves – A Time Travel in the Past


For a history buff and an architecture lover, Ajanta & Ellora is a place where one would get lost in the pages of history through the cave paintings and ancient temples.

Aurangabad is the 5th largest city in Maharashtra state, named after the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. It is also famous as a tourism hub as many historical monuments are close to the city. It includes UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Ellora – Ajanta caves, Bibi Ka Maqbara, Jayakwadi Dam and many more places.

Ajanta and Ellora Caves – A Time Travel in the Past-1

There is a very pleasant vibe about these caves built in the 2nd century. They speak a thousand stories with intricately carved paintings and sculptures. The air is filled with purity and wisdom. There is peace, positivity, religion, faith, art, and culture all speaking in one language. Humanity. There are Hindu caves along with Buddhist caves and Jain temples. This unique symbolism sends a message of harmony and religious peace in those times.

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Ellora and Ajanta Caves are located 30km and 110km away respectively from Aurangabad. Ellora consists of 34 "caves" that are actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills. Buddhist, Hindu and Jain rock-cut temples and viharas and mathas were built between the 5th-century to 10th-century. Ajanta consists of 30 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BCE to about 480 or 650 CE. Carvings and paintings inside the caves are masterpieces and proof as to why this place is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Ajanta caves are cut into the side of a cliff that is on the south side of a U-shaped gorge on the small river Waghur.

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This UNESCO World Heritage Site is believed to be built by Rashtrakuta Rulers and locally known as Verul Leni. While Ajanta is famous for wall paintings, Ellora is famous for rock-cut architecture. It has 34 rock-sculpted temples created between the 4th and 9th centuries. There are 12 Buddhist, 17 Hindu and 5 Jain caves containing rock-cut temples and monasteries. The Cave nos. 2, 5, 10 and 12 are of the Buddhist group, Cave nos. 14, 15, 16, 21 and 29 are of the Brahmanical group and Caves 32 to 34 are of the Jaina group. These caves are carved out of 2 km long cliff-face, running north-south. The Jain Temples are at the northern end, the Hindu caves and temples in the center and finally the Buddhist ones at the southern end.

Out of all the 34 caves, the star attraction is Cave No.16, a single rock cut *Kailashnath Temple*. The Kailasha is a great monolithic rock cut temple isolated from the surrounding rock and excavated from top to bottom and scooped out all through from outside to inside. This is designed to recall Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva – looks like a freestanding, multi-storied temple complex. This temple is situated just in front of main entrance. The temple is a splendid achievement of Dravidian art.

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Apart from the temples of Ajanta and Ellora, Daulatabad Fort is another amazing place to visit, a 12th-century structure situated about 15 kilometers from the city of Aurangabad. This fort was built in the 12th century by the Yadava King of Bhillima V and was called Devgiri. Devagiri was also known as “Devgad”, “Surgiri” and “Dhargiri”. In the early 14th century, Sultan Mohammed-bin-Tughlak moved his capital from Delhi to Devgiri and renamed this fort city as Daulatabad. Fort consists of multiple layers of massive walls, deep water trench around the fort and complex arrangement of entryways for a strong defense.

For a traveler, Aurangabad is filled with surprises. You need at least three days to explore Ajanta, Ellora and Daulatabad Fort as a whole. There are frequent buses connecting the prime locations. For stay, you can choose from the hotels and resorts in Aurangabad itself.
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