Planning a vacation? Do check out the Ajanta and Ellora Caves Guide for the Perfect Trip

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If you are someone who loves visiting monuments and exploring their history, then you cannot miss this place named Ajanta and Ellora caves in India. The Ellora caves and Ellora caves are one of the largest rock-cut Hindu temple and Buddhist cave complexes in the world and are also listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In this article, we will be talking about the masterpieces of manmade creation i.e. Ajanta and Ellora caves. So without further ado, let’s know in detail about them.

Ajanta caves

Ajanta Caves

This beautiful piece of art is excavated out of a vertical cliff. The Ajanta caves in the Ajanta hills are situated above the river Waghora. The excavation process was not undertaken at once but in two different phases. Moreover, there was a significant gap of around four centuries between these two phases. The total number of caves in Ajanta is 30; including the ones which remained unfinished. The impeccably designed staircases that are cut out from a rock connect the caves to the river. 

Notably, Ajanta caves is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in India and it is one of the oldest ones. The paintings and carvings in the caves are the epitome of Indian classical art. The Archaeological Survey of India is the agency that takes care of these caves. Located in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, these caves are no less than a masterpiece.

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Best time to visit Ajanta Caves

The best time to visit the caves is during the Monsoon season. That is basically starting from June to September. Or you can also visit this place during the winter season; which is between November to February. Because during this time the weather is quite pleasant to roam around. Moreover, you must avoid visiting these places between March to May as the temperature rises as high as 40 degrees celsius, which can actually hinder your exploration.

Timings:

Anytime between 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Interesting Facts about Ajanta Caves:

  1. It is claimed that the Ajanta caves were painted by the monks who stayed there during the monsoons as they were forbidden to travel further. They used that time to bring out their creative side and thus, they painted the caves.
  2. There’s another story about the Ajanta caves, that a British official named Jon Smith saw the structure of the cave when he was hunting a tiger in the Deccan Plateau region. The structure intrigued him and he crossed the River Waghora to explore the same. After his visit, the news related to the discovery of these caves spread like wildfires across Europe.
  3. As far as the Ajanta caves are concerned, the first phase of construction took place during the reign of the Satavahana Dynasty. In that phase, sanctuaries known as the Chaitya-grihas were built in the canyons of the Waghora River. 
  4. The construction of the second phase was undertaken during the rule of Emperor Harishena of the Vakataka dynasty. At that time, around 20 cave temples were built and these structures resemble the present-day monasteries.
  5. Notably, after the rule of Harisena ended, these caves were almost forgotten and abandoned. They were camouflaged by the forests surrounding them.

Ellora Caves

Ellora Caves is a collection of 34 monasteries and temples that spread across an area of 2 Kms. Situated in the Charanandri hills of western India’s Maharashtra, these caves are not too far from Aurangabad in Maharashtra. So, you can plan a visit to both the caves at the same time. Inside the caves are extremely unique carvings and other artistic creations. Most of the illustrations deliver a message of tolerance, which is a significant characteristic of ancient India. Moreover, these caves are very diverse when it comes to illustration, as in, some of them are dedicated to Brahmanism, some to Jainism, and others to Buddhism. If we talk about structural innovation then nothing is as beautiful as cave 16. That is the Kailasa Temple. We will be discussing the mysteries concerning the same in the next section.

Best time to visit Ellora Caves:

Just like Ajanta caves, the best time to visit the caves is either in the Monsoon season starting from June to September, or during the winter season, between November to February. Because during this time the weather is quite pleasant to roam around. Moreover, you must avoid visiting these places between March to May as the temperature rises as high as 40 degrees celsius, which can actually hinder your exploration.

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Timings

Ellora caves are open from dawn to dusk all days of the week. It is only on Tuesdays that the visitors are not allowed to go inside.

Interesting Facts about Ellora Caves:

  1. These caves are also referred to as ‘Verul Leni’.
  2. Do you know? The biggest single exhuming in the world is the 16th cave of the Ellora caves.
  3. With regards to cave 16, that is, The Kailasa, it is believed that when discovered it was completely covered by white plaster. It looked like Kailash mountain, that’s why it was given the name “Kailas Temple.” The same is dedicated to lord shiva.
  4. This temple is a megalith which means it is entirely carved out of a single rock. It was not made by adding stone blocks. This temple is the only Monolithic temple the world has ever seen.
  5. The roof of the Kailasa Temple is the largest cantilevered rock ceiling in the world.
  6. Interestingly, the Muslim ruler Aurangzeb employed 1000 workers to destroy the temple, however, he failed to do so, his workers could only distort certain carvings. Such is the power of Kailasa Temple.

How to reach Ajanta and Ellora Caves?

The Ajanta and Ellora Caves are 100 km apart from each other. It takes hardly 3hrs to reach from one cave to another. You can easily reach Ajanta and Ellora caves from Mumbai and Aurangabad. There are many buses, flights, and trains for Aurangabad as well as for Mumbai.

  • By train: If you want to go to Ajanta Ellora caves by train then the nearest railway station is the Aurangabad railway station. The Ellora caves are just a 45 minutes distance and Ajanta caves are 1.5 hours away from Aurangabad railway station. If you war coming from Mumbai to Aurangabad, you can reach here by train in just 6 or 7 hours.
  • By air: The Aurangabad airport is the nearest airport to Ajanta and Ellora caves. You can easily reach to this airport from your city or country by air. The caves are just 100 km from the airport. You can take private cabs or public transport to reach these caves. 
  • By road: Many roads and highways are there from neighboring cities including Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and Hyderabad to Aurangabad. You can take a bus, private cab or travel in your own car to visit the caves. Prefer to go by bus as you get multiple options for price, timings, and amenities.

Read more, List of 38 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India

MYSTERIES AROUND THE ELLORA CAVES:

Notably, there is an air of mystery surrounding Ellora caves. Even though there are a lot of stories about the construction of the Kailasa Temple, nobody knows when exactly it was constructed and by whom as there are no shreds of evidence to support the same. Some researchers believe that a huge underground civilization exists under the temple. There are multiple reasons behind their claim. Firstly, after the construction of the Kailasa Temple, the stone wastage was nowhere found. So, where did it go? 

Secondly, this might surprise you but some people believe that this temple was constructed by the Aliens. Yes, you heard that right. This is because there are a lot of tunnels inside the temple that are as high as two feet and most of them are directed towards the Earth. And as per scientific research, such tunnels can only be constructed by going inside them. What is the use of these tunnels and who constructed them is still a mystery. Many of these tunnels were closed by the Indian Government for safety purposes.

Thirdly, there are a lot of holes on the floor of this temple. They are as deep as 40 feet and after that, they either turn leftwards or rightwards. Nobody knows where it leads to and its purpose. Once, a tourist’s key fell into the hole and was never recovered. After that incident, many of such holes were blocked. 

Fourthly, the water which is offered to the idol of Lord Shiva goes directly into a tunnel. And even if gallons of water are poured into that tunnel, it never overflows. It is because of these above-mentioned factors that scientists believe in the existence of an underground civilization.

This is all about Ajanta and Ellora caves, I hope this article intrigued you to discover more about this place.

NOTE: Cover photo by Danial Chitnis

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