The Majestic Ajanta and Ellora Caves of Maharashtra
The Ajanta and Ellora Caves in Maharashtra are regarded as one of the wonders of India. Tourists flocking to Maharashtra make it a must to visit these caves for sure. Talking of the stupendous Ajanta Caves, it is situated about 100 kms from the town of Aurangabad and 60 kms from Jalgaon. Winding roads and thick forests lead you to the stairs climbing which you reach the caves of Ajanta. History has it that the Ajanta Caves were lost for centuries just like the temples of Khajuraho. In the middle of the 19th century an Englishman discovered it. The caves are reminiscent of the Buddhist culture and its uniqueness leaves you spell bound.
The rock cut caves date back to the 2nd century BC and they contain sculpture and paintings that are termed as masterpieces of the Buddhist art and universal art. In 1983, the Ajanta caves were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The area around the Ajanta Caves is a good picnic spot and you can enjoy a nice day put with family and friends. There are also some small restaurants and a shopping arcade. In the caves you can find the beautiful paintings including the portrait of the Bodhisattva Padmanapi; other paintings depict the life of the Buddha and his various incarnations. If you have a passion for Indian culture then the caves of Ajanta are your calling. Go with a tour guide and you will be enthralled to know the stories behind each painting and sculpture in the dimly lit caves.
Next comes the Ellora Caves which are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and just a 45 minute drive from Aurangabad. The caves date back to the 5th century BC and include a total of 34 caves some of which remind you of ancient Hindu culture while some give you an idea of old Jain and Buddhist culture. The stately Kailasa temple divides the Hindu caves from the Buddhist caves. The intricate carvings and detailing of the sculptures is indeed a sign of achievement in those days in terms of engineering and architecture. The sculptures were not actually built but carved from massive pieces of rock and it is this quality that is awe inspiring to the fullest. The giant chariot carved from a single piece of rock is a huge attraction. The sculptures depict scenes from ancient Hindu epics such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata. You can find the portrayal of Ravana shaking the Mount Kailasha and the descent of the river Ganga which are certain to leave you thrilled for their artistic perfection. The big temple was built in honor of Lord Shiva and is named Kailasa after the name of his abode on the Himalayan Mountains. The temple holds distinction by being the largest single monolithic structure across the world. The temple covers an area which is double the size of the Parthenon in Athens.
So if you want to have a taste of India’s rich cultural heritage then make a trip to the Ajanta and Ellora Caves of Maharashtra soon!