Visiting Ajanta Caves in India.

About the old Buddhist Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra State, India.

Set in the shape of a horseshoe and dating back to the 2nd century, Ajanta Caves are a series of 30 monasteries which have been cut out of rock and are famous because of their murals and carvings. The caves were occupied by Buddhists during the Indian monsoon season and used as accommodation areas or as prayer halls. Every cave was made accessible by stone steps and each of these flights of steps lead down to the Waghora (narrow stream). Some of the carved pillars, verandahs and halls are in quite reasonable condition however quite a lot of the painted artwork has become corrupted or in some cases completely disappeared.
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Ajanta caves Waghora - Ajanta, India. The Buddhist Ajanta Caves in India. Ajanta caves area - Ajanta Caves, India. Ajanta Caves - India.

How to actually get to Ajanta Caves in India.

The first thing to note is that Ajanta Caves are shut on Mondays!. Probably the nearest place to stay at in order to take a day trip out to the Ajanta Caves is at Aurangabad - the caves are around 110 kms from there. If you ask for a car and driver at one of Aurangabad's hotels they will probably come up with some stupid amount - maybe as much as 4000 Rupees. Ask at the desk for the telephone number of a local taxi driver and usually they will give you this or else just stop a taxi on the road and ask. You can then negotiate a proper price directly - which probably should be around 1800 to 2000 Rupees (cash of course and excluding tip).
It is a little involved getting to the actual caves - parking has to be done at a large car park and from there you have to walk through a tourist market area of stalls to reach a shuttle bus. The bus will then - for a fee of a around 20 rupees - take you the rest of the way to Ajanta Caves Ticket Office. The entrance fee to the caves is 250 Rupees for non-Indians. To get to the first Cave namely Cave 1 you have to walk up quite a few steps - if you don't fancy this then there are plenty of Dholi Wallas waiting to carry you up.
The Caves are split into two groups from an origin point of view - the earliest ones are from the 2nd to 1st century BC and are Buddhist and the later group date from the 5th and 6th century and are from the Mahayana Period. The Caves are either Chaitya-Grihas (prayer halls) or Viharas (monasteries). Prayer Halls have vaulted ceilings with octagonal columns dividing the central hall and also have a stupa whilst the monasteries have a verandah and a hall with sleeping cells and inner shrines usually containing huge Buddha images.
At around 35 x 28 metres in area Ajanta Cave 1 (a Mahayana Monastery) contains an open courtyard, hypostyle hall, verandah, inner sanctum plus it has an antechamber and cells. The monastery is heavily ornamented with beautiful carved pillars and doorframe - originally the entire cave was painted. The sanctum features a statue of Lord Buddha in a preaching position and he has Bodhisattvas either side, disciples and a wheel which is flanked by deer. Generally the paintings, which are virtually all over the cave, reflect Lord Buddha's life.
Ajanta Cave1 Padmapani - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 1 Padmapani
Ajanta Cave1 painting - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 1
Ajanta Cave1 flora painting - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 1
Ajanta Cave1 pillars - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 1
Ajanta Cave2 Buddha - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 2
Ajanta Cave2 carved pillars - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 2
Ajanta Cave2 - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 2
Ajanta Cave4 pillars - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 4
Cave 2 at Ajanta measures around 36 x 22 metres and seems to be dated to around the 6th or 7th century. The Mahayana Monastery's sanctum has a statue of Lord Buddha and he is flanked by Bodhisattvas and celestial nymphs. Other parts of the cave contain a verandah, hypostyle hall, chapels and various small shrines. As with Cave 1 the huge pillars and doorframes are beautifully carved with designs and paintings - in fact much of the cave is painted and the ceiling is particularly good.
Ajanta Cave 4 Buddha- Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 4
Ajanta Cave4 - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 4
Ajanta Cave 6 - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 6
Ajanta Cave 6 seated Buddha - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 6
Ajanta Cave6 carvings - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 6
Ajanta Cave 6 rock carvings- Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 6
Ajanta Cave 9 verandah carvings - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 9
Ajanta Cave 9 wall painting - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 9
Ajanta Cave9 - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 9
Ajanta Cave10 Stupa - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 10 Stupa
Ajanta Cave10 painted pillars- Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 10
Ajanta Cave 10 Stupa - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 10
Ajanta Cave16 - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 16
Ajanta Cave16 pillar carvings- Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 16
Ajanta Cave16 seated Buddha - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 16
Ajanta Cave17 wall painting - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 17
Ajanta Cave17 Buddha - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 17
Ajanta Cave19 - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 19
Ajanta Cave19 - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 19
Ajanta Cave19 interior - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 19
Cave 19 is fairly small in size - it has a beautifully decorated facade and the interior has 17 pillars which are carved with the figures of Lord Buddha and other motifs. There is also a stupa which has an elongated drum and a globular shaped dome sits against the apse. The sides of the cave are covered with many figures of Buddha whilst the barreled ceiling has been completely painted with flora motifs which are themselves interwoven with paintings of animals and birds.
Ajanta Cave19 Buddha - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 19 Buddha
Ajanta Cave19 outer carvings - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 19
Ajanta Cave19 vaulted ceiling - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 19
Ajanta Cave 19 verandah - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 19
Ajanta Cave 21 Pillars - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 21
Ajanta Cave21 rock carvings - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 21
Ajanta Cave21 carved pillars - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 21
Ajanta Cave21 carvings - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 21
Ajanta Cave21 sleeping cells - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 21
Ajanta Cave 21 monastery - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 21
Ajanta Cave21 wall painting - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 21
Ajanta Cave 21 seated Buddha - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 21
Ajanta Cave 21 verandah - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 21
Ajanta Cave26 reclining Buddha - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 26
Ajanta Cave26 carved ceiling - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 26
Ajanta Cave 26 Pillars - Ajanta Caves, India.
Cave 26
Ajanta Cave 26 dates back to the 6th century and this monastery has a really excellently carved verandah, sanctum and antechamber plus various cells. The barrel shaped hall roof is "supported" by 12 huge pillars which have detailed carvings of fauna, flora, worshippers and celestial figures. The sanctum contains a Buddha who is in a seated position and he is typically flanked by Bodhisattvas - there is also the figure of a reclining Buddha along one side of the hall.
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