Ajanta Ellora Tour Package
The fascinating Ajanta and Ellora caves are located in Maharastra
around 400 km from Mumbai. The caves are astonishingly carved
into hillside rock in the middle of nowhere. An incredible feature
of these caves is that they were crafted by hand with only a
hammer and chisel. They comprise some of the most outstanding
specimens of ancient Indian architectural heritage. The Ajanta
Ellora caves situated near the city of Aurangabad have always
inspired artisans and painters alike since times immemorial.
There are 34 caves at Ellora, dating between 6th to 11th century AD and 29 caves at Ajanta dating between 2nd century BC and 6th century AD. The caves at Ajanta are all Buddhist, while the caves at Ellora are a mixture of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain. While the Ajanta caves are rich in paintings and sculpture, the Ellora caves are renowned for their extraordinary architecture.
The 29 Ajanta caves were discovered in the 19th century deep within the Sahyadri hills above the Waghora river. They depict the story of Buddhism, spanning a period from 200 BC to 650 AD and were built as secluded retreats of Buddhist monks. Many of the caves house panels depict stories from the Jatakas, a rich mine of tales of several incarnations of the Buddha. The elusive Ajanta cave paintings are not to be missed that include images of nymphs and princesses amongst others, elaborately portrayed. It is suggested that you bring a torch with you to the Ajanta caves as many of them are quite dark and lighting is poor.
The Ellora caves are carved into the sides of a basaltic hill and are the finest specimens of cave - temple architecture, housing elaborate facades and exquisitely adorned interiors. Carved between 350 AD to 700 AD, the 12 caves to the south are Buddhist, the 17 in the center dedicated to Hinduism, and the 5 caves to the north are Jain. Caves 6 and 10 house images from the Buddhist and Hindu faith, under the same roof, the latter dedicated to Vishwakarma, the patron saint of Indian craftsmen.
The Ellora caves served as chapels (Chaityas), monasteries (Viharas) and temples for the monks. The most striking is cave no. 16, which has the Kailashanath temple with breathtaking architecture. Starting 760 AD under the Rashtrakutas, it took 150 long years to be built! The Kailashanath temple is said to be the largest monolith in the world. The temple is covered with exquisite sculptures depicting scenes from great Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata.
You can get an excellent view and perspective of inside the Kailasa temple by climbing up the hill around it. Its immense size covers twice the area of the Pantheon in Athens and is one and a half times as high.
The best time to visit Ajanta and Ellora is from November to March when it's cooler and dry. Note that an annual four day Ajanta Ellora Festival is held at Soneri Mahal (Golden Palace), an historic 17th century architectural marvel in Aurangabad near Ellora, in the last week of November. The awesome festival features some of the most distinguished singers and dancers of India.
Getting to Ajanta and Ellora is easy. Aurangabad airport has flights to Delhi and Mumbai. The Aurangabad railway station is a major junction. As for travel by road, there are regular state buses from Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Shirdi, Nasik, Dhule, Indore, Hyderabad etc.