Did you know that Ajanta Caves were declared as India’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983? These comprise various worshiping halls and monasteries of different Buddhist traditions. Various sculptures of Buddhist deities are also carved into the 246 ft wall of rock.
The caves are believed to be used as a monsoon retreat for monks and a place to rest for most pilgrims and merchants visiting the area in the ancient time. You can find several mentions about these caves in multiple medieval-era memoirs by Chinese Buddhist travelers and by one Mughal official during Akbar’s reign.
Located almost 321 km away from the city of Mumbai, it is concealed in the lush hills of north-west India. It also appears like a horseshoe around the River Waghora. These caves are the perfect example of the country’s exemplary artistry in rock-cut temples. Some of the Ajanta Caves built by Buddhist monks date back to 2nd century BC.
Ajanta caves are often described as the gems that represent Indian history and its impressive artistry that existed in the bygone era. It consists of some 30 odd rock-cut caves, which are on the top of the wishlist of travelers who love all things history.
A Brief History
According to a popular History scholar, Walter M. Spink; these caves were built in two phases, one during the Satavahana period (200 BC to 100 AD) and the other during the Vakataka period (Around 5th century AD). Many of the caves were not completed while the others had their construction started for a limited time.
The Ajanta Caves were abandoned with time, the area was covered with thick forest and was discovered around 1819 by a British officer. After being recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site, it now has the attention of the tourists it so rightly deserves.
Major Attractions in Ajanta Caves
The iconic Ajanta caves paintings are one of the finest in the world and known for their intricate details. You will also find pictorial narratives of Aryasura’s Jatakamala in these paintings. With vivid colors and murals, these are one of the finest examples of Indian wall-paintings.
Caves 1, 2, and 4 especially draw the majority of tourists. The grand doorway of cave 1 is beautified with some Bodhisattva murals and you can see two important phases of Lord Buddha’s life depicted on the sidewalls. Stunning abstract designs of birds, flowers, fruits and devils are present on the ceiling of the cave 2. Although the 4th cave is left incomplete, it still sparks the magic because of its unique artistry and is one of the largest monasteries in Ajanta.
When is the Ideal time to Visit?
Ajanta Caves are a delight to visit, especially during the rainy season as the entire area turns lush green. You must avoid traveling during the peak summer months, which are from March to May, as the temperatures here can get extreme. A trip between October and February can be ideal too as the climate is not very cold in this part of the country.
Ajanta Caves are perfect for people who love exploring ancient sites to know more about the foregone era. One visit to this gorgeous place can leave you awestruck and you’ll be mesmerized by the intricate detailing in its architecture.
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