Ajanta Caves, these caves inspire prayer
The Ajanta Caves were Buddhist monasteries, for living, learning and prayer, dating from the 2nd century to the 5th century BCE. But what is fantastic about these caves is that the monks did not just retreat here; they made the space their own with amazing sculptures cut into rock and some of the finest mural paintings, depicting stories from Buddhist Jakata literature and court life.
The caves, situated 97 km north of Aurangabad district in Maharashtra, were discovered in 1819 when a British officer in the Madras Regiment stumbled on them on a hunting expedition, in what was then a heavily forested area. He immediately picked up on the historical value and beauty of the discovery, and it has since become a famed tourist destination. These elaborately carved caves are in horseshoe-shaped bend of rock surface, nearly 76 m in height, overlooking a narrow stream known as Waghora.
It’s not difficult to see that the monks, who retreated here during the monsoon to pursue their religious aspirations through intellectual discourses, were lured by the serene location of the valley. Each cave was connected to the stream by a flight of steps, which are now almost obliterated, except a few traces.
Visiting hours: 0900 to 1700 hrs and is closed on Mondays.
The caves are situated about 97 km from Aurangabad via Aurangabad-Phulambri-Sillod Rd. Bus services are available from Aurangabad or Jalgon in Maharashtra.
Nearest railway station: Aurangabad, about 98 km
Nearest airport: Aurangabad International Airport, about 98 km.