Maharasthra trip 7: Ajanta

27 December 2007

The day started early again for us. We left Aurangabad at 5:30 in the morning towards Ajanta. The distance from Aurangabad to Ajanta is about 100 kms. We had breakfast on the way in a Dhaba. We were at Ajanta MTDC bus stop at 8:30AM and were the first ones to stand in the queue.

Vehicles are not allowed for the last 4 km of the Ajanta caves. People have to take MTDC buses to reach the entrance of the caves. This is to prevent pollution near the caves which affects the paintings.

Ajanta caves are the rock cut caves depicting paintings of Buddhist era. The caves are located in a horse shoe shaped ravine. The caves are 29 in number, divided as Virahas and Chaityas. The work in the caves started before Christ and continued till 5th century. After 5th Century, the Buddhist influence in India started waning and these caves were deserted. For the next 14 centuries these case were unknown to the people. A British who had come for hunting found these caves and then these caves were excavated.

While Ellora is the best case of rock cut architecture, Ajanta is for its paintings.

Most of the caves look similar. There is a Buddha statue or a Stupa at the centre with small rooms at the sides for the Buddhist monks and there are paintings on the walls and roof.

The painting of Padmapani in cave1. Usage of flash is banned inside the caves making it tough to take the snaps.
Entrance of a cave.
One of the paintings. Many of the paintings have gone bad. ASI is struggling hard to preserve them.
Another one.
Inside a cave.

While others took rest, I climbed up a nearby hill, where one can see the entire cave complex. I was surprised to find out that I was the only guy on the hill. Later couple of foreign tourists turned up. A few shots from that place.

A close up shot.

Another one.

The last one.